Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The spring thing

In keeping with the erratic weather we've had for the past two years, this year's transition to spring has been, well, erratic.

The big surprise was the heat wave. Mid-March, temps in the 60s and 70s! A full month early! Dry and gorgeous, day after day. It was a gift for everyone who like to be outdoors -- or, like us, who needs to be outdoors, in order to take care of huge yard and garden projects. We got a month's head start on what's normally a cramped season. We also put our canoes in the water on a record early date.

(That was weird . . . after the paddle, we went for lunch at a pub at the base of the local ski hill, where we sat inside in wetsuits with canoes and kayaks on top of the cars outside, while people trooped by in boots and parkas carrying skis and snowboards. The ground was brown, the hill was white, and all bodies of water were mixed ice and liquid. Typical March!)

Anyway, during this heat wave, the first perennials broke through and the earliest migratory birds returned and most everyone went nutty with spring fever. Meanwhile, while celebrating wearing T-shirts and shorts before equinox, we never stopped looking over our shoulders, haunted by the five feet of snow we got in the last ten days of March some years ago. Another year, an April blizzard. And another year, a killing frost on June 1 after everyone had planted their gardens.

And so it goes. We haven't gotten any blizzards yet, but we've swung back to "normal" weather, three weeks now of mixed precipitation, biting blustery winds, and blazing sun. The emerging perennials put on the brakes and are hanging in a state of suspension, waiting for the warmup to resume (though one crocus dared bloom and got away with it).

Real spring is just around the corner, and both mud season and maple sugar season are definitely over. Now gardeners are eyeing their plots, wondering if the seeds they've started can go out under cover, or if we still have to wait until Memorial Day to be sure . . .

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