Locust Winter 2015

42 degrees.

That’s what the thermometer said when I peeked at it with uncaffeinated eyes this morning at 6:30.

So, I rubbed my eyes, slipped on my glasses, and looked again.

42 degrees.

Three sips of coffee later – it still says 42 degrees, but it’s not as fuzzy.

And, after three openings and closings of the outside door, I don’t need the thermometer to tell me the third “winter” of this Spring has slipped in upon us.

Locust winter is here.

Brrrrrrr.

And, yes.  Locust trees are blooming.  I saw one Sunday on the way to church – the racemes were just beginning to lengthen, turn white, and open.

(Can’t help but wonder about the Honey Locust trees at the Zoo.  If they are blooming, the aroma there would be delightful!!)

Redbud, Dogwood, and now Locust – that’s three “winters.”  The next will be Blackberry.

I’ve located two blackberry bushes, both of which are full of swelling buds.  It won’t be long before the bushes are dotted with white flowers. Perhaps, they will bloom during this week’s prolonged cool down and we can strike two winters off the list before May slips in and Summer’s heat begins to tease.

Not one to wait for Cotton Britches Winter to send winter wear packing to the attic, I’m already sporting shorts and sleeveless shirts. But, I’ve kept out a jacket and a sweater – just in case.  And, this morning it feels like a mighty good idea.

Dogwood Winter 2015

Slow down, Spring.  Please, slow down.

Your longer days bid me linger in your presence.

But, you’re passing so quickly I hardly have time to enjoy you.  I’ll blink twice and you’ll be gone.

Stay with me…settle in and pass some time with me.  Stay a while and let me soak up your sweetness and savor your beauty.

Red tulips. Yellow daffodils.  Grape hyacinths.  Flaming forsythia.  Violet violets. Pink peach blossoms. Hot pink redbuds. Green clover. New leaf green.

You’re in such a hurry – rushing toward Summer…. Slow down.

Let me touch you…smell you…feel you…inhale you…enjoy you.

Pear blooms – nearly gone.  Redbud burst blooms a week ago.  Peach blossoms…dropping.

And, now…now Dogwood spreads its bracts, wider each day, pale green, greenish white, whitish green, whitish tan, whiter…then white as the flowers within them bloom.

Today, a cold front rolled through with rain and storms and wind.  Tonight the temperature will feel more like Winter than Spring and offers a promise of frost for Easter morning.

Dogwood Winter is upon us.

That’s two down.  Three more Winters to go.

Spring’s Confusing Winters

While out and about with Mom last week we noted the Redbuds in full bloom – gorgeous deep pink – and Dogwoods, showing their first bright flash of white.

“This must have been Redbud winter that we just had,” Mom commented.

“Um…you said Redbud winter arrived two weeks ago,” I cautiously reminded her. “Dogwoods were coming into bloom.  Are you certain that wasn’t Dogwood Winter?”

“No, it’s not Dogwood winter yet,” she assured me.  “The next cold snap will be Dogwood Winter.”

And, so it appears Dogwood Winter is NOW upon us. (It was 36 degrees when I greeted the day and tonight the temperature will drop into the mid 20’s.  That’s a little BRRR for mid April.)

I’m sure in another week or two a new cold snap will slip in after a cold front and chill us again.

If Locust trees are coming into bloom, then it will be Locust Winter. And, if not?  Well…I don’t know…just consider it a reminder that Spring can be confusing at times.

Apparently there is a cold snap that occurs as pear trees are coming into bloom.  And, another that occurs when “Tulip trees” are in full bloom (usually a killing freeze).  And, there’s another that occurs when pear trees are in full bloom, just as peach begins to bloom.

And, as Redbud begins to show color, there’s a cold snap and when it’s in full bloom (I suppose that’s when Redbud Winter is declared)…another. And, at some point between Redbud’s first blush of color and its full glory, Dogwood begins to show color and we have another cold snap.

And, then when Dogwood shimmers full and white, there’s another Winter and we (apparently) declare it Dogwood Winter.

It gets a bit confusing…all these cold snaps. I’m not sure how cold it needs to be if we’re to declare it a Winter.

As we leave April behind and slip into May, things will get a little less confusing as temperatures rise and the promise of Summer can be heard clicking her heels as she steps closer with each day’s move on the calendar.

Spring’s Winters…they are dependable…coming about every 10 days it seems.  Call them what you will…they keep us guessing – about what to wear, when to plant….

They make life interesting, keep us on our toes, and remind us that we aren’t in charge or in control.

Oh, better cover up your tender vegetation tonight…forecast is for a hard freeze. 😉

Happy Dogwood Winter!

Spring’s Tease

A couple days of warm sunny weather teased me into thinking Winter had packed up and slipped out.

All to quickly, I was ready to haul out the plants I’d stored in the garage and shop for tomato plants.

A walk around my neighborhood provides a needed reminder that Spring may have arrived on the calendar but Winter has not yet released its grip.

Bradford Pear trees are in full bloom.  I suppose the cold snap we just experienced corresponds to them. Dare I call it Bradford Pear Winter?? 😉  (Mom says it’s Redbud Winter because Redbuds are just beginning to break bud.  I’ll stick with pear…when redbuds are in full bloom we will have another cold snap….)

Ahead of us lie Redbud Winter, Dogwood Winter, Locust Winter, Blackberry Winter…Cotton Britches Winter –  no, Winter is not yet done with us.

After spending over 30 years in South Georgia, I still expect Spring-like weather to be deeply entrenched by now and for Summer to be just around the corner.  I grew up here and lived in Tennessee for over 20 years – and have been back for a year and a half.  But, still I find myself reacting as though I’m in the rush to get it all done by April 1.

I need to slow down…breathe easy.  Relax.  Spring is only a few days old. There are still frosts, freezes and even the possibility of snow before all is said and done (and planted and pruned).

Providing myself time to simply enjoy the season and my place in it is important.

Perhaps…as important as all I might accomplish.

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.

Dogwood Winter

Monday morning, as Hubby and I walked in dawn’s early light, I noticed the local dogwood trees were sporting a little color and I suggested we were in for a cold snap later this week.

I knew the buds were larger Sunday afternoon, but no color was noted and I assumed it would be several days before they began to relax and open and a few beyond that before the petals began to grow and lengthen.

But, warm nights and warmer days tend to speed things along and each day I noticed the color becoming more prominent and changing from a dark creamy off-white to a clearer/cleaner white.

Dogwood Winter couldn’t be far off and all it took was a glance at the forecast to know that a cold snap was set for this week’s end with temperatures dipping to the upper 30s at night and dancing around 60 in the daytime.

Redbud Winter is past.  Dogwood Winter is upon us.

I smile as I watch life emerge around me, as I feel the brisk air and the warmth of the sun, as I hear Spring’s impromptu jam session swinging in the tree tops.  🙂

Spring’s Winters

Redbuds trees are blooming.

Finally!

Accustomed to early Spring in the DEEP South, after 30+ years life experience there, I’ve found it difficult to adjust to the delayed Spring here even though this is where I spent the first 20 years of my life.

As a child, I grew up to the various “Winters” of Spring.

  1. Pear tree winter
  2. Redbud winter
  3. Dogwood winter
  4. Locust winter
  5. Blackberry winter

The temperature would rise to Spring-like warmth and various plants would break bud, show color and then a cold snap would hit and we would experience Winter again for several days.

This year the Winters of Spring have been delayed.  And, so has Spring’s floral parade.

Redbud trees should have bloomed weeks ago. Dogwoods should be in regal attire by now.  But, Redbuds are experiencing their first blush as Dogwood buds swell with promise.

Pear Winter has come and gone.  Pear trees, still bearing white blossoms, are showing green as new leaves begin their growth.

Redbud winter can be checked off the list and this next week of Springtime warmth will prompt a quick response in the remaining actors in Spring’s display.

If the rain holds long enough and the ground drys fast enough, I’ll get the garden tilled this week, or next, and begin working it in preparation for planting.  Some things can go into the ground after Dogwoods bloom.  Other things, like tender tomatoes, will wait until Blackberry winter passes.

Moving is an adjustment on all counts – and even more so when so much of who you are and what you do is in tune with where you are in the seasons of the year.  For the past 30+ years I’ve experienced Spring’s arrival by the end of February and planting season by the first of April.  “Easter Freeze” was considered the last opportunity for a wintery snap that could threaten tender growth – that is, as long as Easter came in March and didn’t wait until April.

If I’m in tune with the seasons, I’m in tune with life – and find that when my rhythm matches that of nature around me, I’m happiest and most productive.

I’ve clicked off Redbud winter and am watching the local Dogwoods for color.  And, I’m beginning preparations for the period of growth ahead.  I want to move with nature, in sync, in harmony, enjoying the rhythm of life and the living of it.