GIFTS ARE ARRIVING. Some are so colorfully wrapped - the great golden splashes of forsythia or the pink profusions of cherry blossoms - that the packaging itself is artistry. Others, like the slow opening of buds among the cottonwoods or maples, create artwork that is more durable than dazzling. But in whatever form the bounty pours forth - or pours across or pours out - the purpose of April is being fulfilled. A renewal is overtaking the land. That is one of the differences between the natural world and the human world: Nature renews what is old, man discards it. The calculation in nature's system is that the final sum is less important than the reality of adding in all that is countable. It is all pluses and misuses, whether the figuring is in insects, plants, wildlife, water, soil, sun or air. In the economy of nature, nothing can be wasted. The locust with a lifespan of a few days is as essential as the oak that lives beyond a century.

We talk of the balance of nature, but in April it is the unbalance that engulfs us. Green prevails, gray vanishes. Songbirds in a woodland push out silence. The instincts of animals become drives for proliferation that are heedless of the odds for survival. Days are longer than nights. The nerves and muscles of nature are more loose than tight. No legerdemain is occuring now, as when by sleight of hand snakes disappear in the autumn to hibernate through the winter and then slide forth in March as though only a day had passed.

In April the magic is in the boldness of renewal. The weakest being has a place in the warm sun, and no questions are asked, unless it is the happy one raised by Marianne Moore in her poem "Nevertheless":

The weak overcomes its menace, the strong overcomes itself. What is there like fortitude! What sap went through the little thread to make the cherry red?