Monday, March 26, 2012

Sprummer, No Longer

I remember the first day of school, nearly every year when I was a kid.
Not being able to sleep the night before.
Waking up early, much earlier than I had the whole summer, in the dark.
One of the few days of the year that I'd turn the lights on when I got up.
Dressing in "school clothes" for the first time in weeks.

There was a sense of excitement, of "newness," as if the first week of September was the "New Year."

By the second day, or maybe the third, the newness would have worn off. No more restless sleep, no getting up extra early, no turning on the lights. 

My kids will never have that experience.
They'll never know that odd urge to buy new notebooks and pencils at the end of August.
They'll never do "back to school shopping."

Instead, our lives follow a pattern of seasons, governed by the rotation of the earth, rather than someone's decision about when the "school year" starts.

The current season here is... a very good question.

We have been having the strangest weather I can remember for about the last year.
Last April, we had a tornado- in a place that never has tornados.
While it's not exactly weather, we had a small earthquake- in a place that doesn't have earthquakes.
Last summer, we had a spate of days over 100 degrees, and that rarely happens.
Then, in the Fall, we had flooding, very serious nearby, and not-as-serious-but-still-a-pain-in-the-butt here.  As in right here. Our house.

So I suppose it shouldn't be any surprise that the odd weather is continuing.
After the mildest winter I can recall, contrary to the prediction made by Punxsutawney Phil, we've had an amazing early Spring.

For the entire month of March, we've had above normal temperatures. First in the sixties, then seventies, and eighties.
We've seen more sun than we usually see here in the land of grey skies.
We've dreamed of gardens, made plans to plant early, wondering- hoping, even- if we might be about to have the longest growing season ever.
We've seen fat chipmunks and red squirrels scampering across the lawn.
Birds making a racket every morning.
Brush fires popping up all over the county, about a month earlier than usual.
A structure fire where we were far more concerned about the heat than we usually need to be this time of year.

We've done yard work, started up a new compost pile, and have planned hikes and other outdoor activities. We've had the camera out, taking pictures of daffodils and magnolia. I've slept with the windows open, and the fan on. In March.  When the temperature was forecast to go above 90, I had to consider whether I would even consider air conditioning this time of year.

I didn't. :-)

It isn't even Spring weather. It's bordering on Summer. Sprummer.

Some of it is very interesting.
Lots of things are blooming- but not everything. Some plants bloom and grow according to the temperature, but others are dependent on day length.
There are flowers everywhere... but not bees. What's going to happen with that?
Some places are "greening up" nicely, which makes the risk of brush fire much less... but not uniformly. Some kinds of grass are growing like mad, and others aren't.
Sugaring was crazy this year- earlier, shorter, and if you missed it, you missed it.
Farmers aren't sure what to do. Plant early? Wait? Our "average last frost" date is still SEVEN WEEKS AWAY.
The ground, which would normally be frozen, or, at best muddy and cold, is warm and primarily dry. The little bit of rain we got today was more than welcome.

We've had pesto, sweet corn (imported, but it just felt right!) and salt potatoes. Plenty of ice cream. All those summer foods, falling just short of firing up the grill.

I think we've already had a better summer than we usually have in the summer.

It's crazy.
I wonder how the actual summer will go.
Are we in for a hotter than usual summer? Will it make no difference in the long run, this being some sort of "aberrance" that will fade away into history, to be recounted years from now, when my kids are telling their kids about "that weird year"?

And now, suddenly... we're being thrown for another loop.
I've checked the weather forecast nearly obsessively, and it had been holding on with predictions of highs in the fifties for another week or so. Cooler than it has been, still warmer than average for this time of year.

Until today.
Suddenly, whoever is making those forecasts is telling a VERY different story.
The predicted low for tomorrow night has been dropping all day.

It now sits at EIGHTEEN degrees.
A hard, hard freeze.
Likely to devastate any fruit trees that have started to blossom, and who knows what else.

Not an unusual temperature for this time of year in most years, but it's going to be a shock to the system THIS year.

So what IS this season, exactly?
Is it about to be the winter we barely had?
What will "Spring" be like when it finally, relentlessly, comes?

I can't help but be struck by how suited this "season" has been to our lives.
Not exactly like everyone else's.
Not exactly going according to the typical cultural blueprint.
A "bit" unpredictable.
Very interesting.
Maybe a little crazy-making at times.

Clearly, the weather doesn't have memories of those early mornings, heading to school.
If there ever was a time that something hasn't "read the textbook"- this is it.
And like the rest of us, if the weather wants to have an off the wall "sleep schedule," I'm good with that.


  1. This is a lovely post. It's exactly the same here in England. One week it was so hot I had to buy suntan lotion and a sun-hat for my daughter; the next there's frost on the ground and freezing cold. I'm so glad I'm not a gardener!

  2. An update:
    I happened to re-read this nearly a year later.
    We did, in fact, have "winter" in April.
    Including a big, sudden snowstorm on April 22nd- my date of "we are finally to the date where we probably won't get any more snow this year." I never think that before that date, and now, I guess I have to adjust accordingly, to a few days later.
    It devastated some fruit crops.
    So far, this year, things have been more "typical," if there is such a thing. The winter has held many days on which it snowed, but not generally a lot of snow at once. Sugaring weather has been good, a little above freezing most days, then just below at night. There are the usual "When will Spring ever get here?" cries from many people. Personally, I feel like the winter has gone by way too fast. Time is flying.