Cotton Britches Winter

From childhood I knew of Spring “winters” – knew the names, what to watch for and how to designate which “winter” we were having here in Middle Tennessee. (Different locations experience it at different times – 400 miles South of here cranks things forward a month, maybe more, and squeezes them tighter together, time-wise.)

In my neighborhood, two Spring “winters” preceded the “official” winters – Tulip Magnolia Winter (mid to late February/early March) and Pear Winter (early to mid March).  Our next door neighbor had a beautiful Tulip tree – every year, while it was in full bloom, a hard freeze would turn the beautiful pink blossoms brown. You could count on it.  Across the street, lived a tall pear tree. If it came into bloom, I wore my heavy jacket to school without complaint.

Redbud Winter is the first official Spring “winter” recognized by the locals. It’s a hard cold snap that happens when Redbud trees bloom (late March, early April).

Within a few days, the weather returns to Spring-like temperatures for a couple of weeks and then bottoms out again when Dogwood trees bloom – Dogwood Winter (early to mid April).

Locust Winter follows Dogwood and often brings a late frost (late April to early May).

And, then Blackberry Winter arrives before Locust trees have shed their racemes, bringing the last chance of frost and alerting gardeners that it’s safe to plant okra (early to mid May).

Four official Spring “winters:”

  1. Redbud
  2. Dogwood
  3. Locust
  4. Blackberry

Yesterday, I learned there are five.

A local news weather prognosticator said the 80+ degree temperatures we’ve enjoyed the past few days will give way to cooler temperatures after the cold front moves through. By cooler temperatures he meant highs in the lower 70’s during the day and 50’s at night. He declared it “Cotton Britches Winter.”

I’d heard of Linsey Woolsey Winter. Folks in Eastern Tennessee and Kentucky know that’s when it’s time to pack away your winter clothes and pull out your summer (mid to late May)

Perhaps “Cotton Britches Winter” means we can put on our light weight cotton britches and pack away the wool ones. 😉 Or, perhaps it means we thought Blackberry Winter was the last cool snap and we got caught with our cotton britches down.

In any event, let’s not forget about Whippoorwill Winter (late May, early June). Summer doesn’t officially begin until June 21.

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3 thoughts on “Cotton Britches Winter

  1. Oh my. I never knew winter had all those names – and I’m quite a bit north of you. (But someone from the south once said we don’t have summer up here, just 3 months of bad sledding.) But as a kid, the club pool always opened Memorial Weekend and the water was heated to 72 degrees all summer! 🙂

    I do keep a winter coat and boots in my car through the end of May, just in case…I may err on the side of caution and go through July 4th this year.

    • It was a game my mom and I played – how many more “winters” until Summer arrives. We weren’t allowed out of the house without shoes until May 1. Of course, that didn’t mean we didn’t pull them off as soon as we were out of sight!

      A winter coat and boots through July 4th, huh? If you leave them there that long, you may as well leave them – winter will be just around the corner! Ha!

      Hmmm..I wonder if we have Autumn Summers here and what’s blooming when we do…. 😉

  2. Pingback: Spring’s Tease | suzansays

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