This year the first robin of spring came in the winter—before even the red-winged black birds had arrived.
My husband has mowed the lawn, and the boys of summer have not yet taken to the field for the first game.
And, even our clocks sprang ahead one hour before the spring equinox had occurred.
In the third week of March my tulips are up, blooming and past their prime. I saw a butterfly as I pulled the already well-established weeds from the flower bed on Sunday. My irises, which shouldn’t be poking their heads out of the ground until the end of April to blooming in June, are already a foot tall on the south side of the house. Frogs that shouldn’t start calling until April, started calling over a week ago.
The normally subtle Midwest spring that I have come to love over the last years for its teasing and tantalizing gifts and promises that it reveals ever so slowly has come roaring in with no subtlety at all. Grass greened overnight. Flowers popped out everywhere—daffodils buttering the landscape around me in an instant.
Nobody was prepared for this, except for a few retailers that did have bathing suits on sale in January. I guess they saw this coming. But the garden centers and nurseries didn’t. They didn’t have tree spikes to feed the early budding and growing trees, or weed block paper, or any of the things that you need to prepare your gardens, because let’s face it, who gardens in southern Wisconsin in March? You are usually enduring the last hurrah of winter, the gale-force winds that blow in the last 16-inch snow fall.
And it’s not just around here that spring has come early. Washington’s cherry blossoms will have come and gone long before the festival begins. In Atlanta, people are only semi-jokingly wondering if the pollen counts, in the thousands, could possibly lead to black lung disease.
I hate steering grocery carts through snow-filled parking lots. I desire commutes unmarred by snow-slick roads, and I long to shed the parkas and the snow boots. Even so, I have a hard time getting excited by a spring that comes way early with temperatures that are reminiscent of July by the second week in March. It bothers me that the timing of the spring phenology is so mixed up.
As I prepare for Easter, which is coming a little earlier this year than last, I look back on pictures of last year’s Easter Egg Scramble—windy and cold with little ones completely wrapped up in coats in an attempt to stay warm on the cold, cold morn. This year? Who knows?
Our average date of last frost is the second week in May, so it could end up being quite cold. All of these flowers and bees and frogs and butterflies that are getting an early start on things are putting themselves at great risk. While a cold snap would help with the mosquitos, deer ticks and wasps; it would harm bees, flowers, beneficial insects and many animals.
While normally I would be suffering greatly from spring fever by this time of year; this year I am not. Spring is here, in full glory. And I am left to scratch my head and wonder how on earth the weeds took over my flower beds so quickly. They are growing faster than kudzu, and that’s just not right.
© 2012 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.