Tuesday, March 20, 2012

2012 heat wave: Spring has never been so early here!

Lately the news has been full of photos of cherry blossoms and daffodils blooming a month early in places like Washington, DC.  Here in Pine County, Minnesota, things are not that far along yet, but signs of spring are still unseasonably early. 

On the right you see a bouquet of budding twigs that include (from left to right) forsythia, false spirea, pussy willows and black maple.  For many years it has been our custom to cut a bouquet like this for Passover, then watch as the buds slowly open during the eight days of the festival.  Well, this year we are going to have to do something different, because Passover is still almost three weeks away and buds are swelling now.

Nor are budding trees the only early signs of spring.  The Canada geese are back, along with robins, starlings,  red-wing blackbirds, song sparrows, juncos, mourning doves, and the phoebe who nests in the rafters of our shed each year.  Pheasants are calling, grouse are drumming, and last night -- believe it or not -- I heard spring peeper frogs and the ones we call "clacking frogs" calling in the marsh across the road.  This is the absolute earliest that any of this has happened here as far as I can remember.

Those swelling maple buds meant that I didn't get any maple syrup.  Normally you start tapping the trees when the days are around 40 degrees and the nights are still below freezing.  But when the temperature soars into the high 70s like it has done this March (smashing local records for days in a row), the nights stay warm, the trees bud out, and the sap flow stops.  Everybody I've talked to around here says the same thing:  Their maple trees dried up overnight.  I never even bothered to tap mine.  Which is probably just as well, because we are also in a drought.  All of our snow seems to have moved way down south.  Arizona is getting buried, while Minnesota stays high and dry.  We only got one decent snowstorm here all winter, and within days it had melted away.  Yesterday we got a nice steady rain, which was a good thing, because with all that dried grass around, not to mention some very early lightning storms, the fire danger was extremely high.

All of which adds up to one thing:  Climate change is real, and it is here.


dogbaker said...

we have a Lilac festival and I believe there will be no lilacs when its time. More importantly I am worried that our soft fruit orchards will suffer from the early spring if winter comes back. CNY

Yonassan Gershom said...

I hear you. The buds on my lilacs are already leafing out. Flower festivals all over the country are going to miss their mark. And I, too, am worried that if my fruit trees bloom too soon, they might get frosted later. Especially the wild plums, which tend to bloom very early anyway. I have a big thicket of those that I usually use to make jelly and wine, but last year we had a late frost and I did not get one single plum. Nor were there man y wild raspberries. This year I fear for the wild blueberries, because they rely on snow cover to protect the buds. Not only us humans, but a lot of birds are gonig to be short of food if this keeps up. (I ndo wonder what that phoebe nesting in my shed is eating, although I suppose there are already some flies and mosquitoes hatching out.)

Anonymous said...

clay ny no lilacs this year on well established shrubs