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Signs of Spring

March 21, 2016

Yesterday was the vernal equinox, the first official day of spring. Usually at this time of year, the first sign of spring is the sound of snow melting off the roof under the influence of the season’s stronger sun and longer days. (See The Sound of Spring Arriving.) This year is different, however. spring bulbs emergingIn a pattern typical of El Nino years, our winter has been warmer than average (actually, much warmer than average), and it has been relatively dry as the prevailing storm track has taken most of the snow out to sea to the south of Maine. The result was that the snow was already pretty much gone, from both the roof and the garden, when spring arrived.

In response to our early warmth and snow melt, other signs of spring have arrived earlier than they would in a normal year. Yesterday, as I drove along rural roads, I noticed some maple trees with flower buds, and two robins flew low across the road directly in front of me. And in my garden, as though on schedule, I found these little nubs of spring bulbs poking up through the ground.

Today, those signs of spring are buried under a few inches of spring snow. But I know they are there and that they mean spring has arrived.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. Rusty Roessler permalink
    March 21, 2016 11:44 pm

    Warm here in western Washington also but not so in Alaska I have heard. Head north on the 13th. 35 years getting near the end.

    • March 24, 2016 8:28 pm

      Rusty, Is this your last season in Alaska? You might find it interesting to look at Mary Lloyd’s book Supercharged Retirement (see the reading page on my retirement blog). She argues that the key to a happy retirement is figuring out what aspects of your current life you want to keep or even have more of in your life, what you want to have less of in your life, and then figuring out how to make that happen. The book has exercises for helping you to answer those questions. I didn’t do all (or even most of) the exercises, but I’ve found this a very useful way to think about what I want for my retirement life.

  2. March 22, 2016 6:01 pm

    Spring snow is kinder? Bringing some welcome wet?

    • March 24, 2016 8:31 pm

      Diana, Spring snow is kinder to humans because it disappears quickly. It’s kind to plants because spring does tend to be a dry season here and because melting snow releases nitrogen into the soil to fuel spring growth.

  3. March 22, 2016 8:48 pm

    It’s interesting how varied the effects of El Nino have been, both in different areas of the country and around the world. The weather scientists still have a bit to learn about the phenomenon, though. Forecasts for SoCal were dire but our rain has fallen well short of “normal” levels, not to speak of last fall’s predictions, as the rain was driven northward. While wreaking havoc in portions of California’s Central Coast, it’s supplemented the NorCal snowpack and made a dent in our drought so the news here isn’t all bad. Selfishly, however, I can’t help wishing for just a little more rain for SoCal.

    • March 24, 2016 8:42 pm

      Kris, Does Southern California ever get “a little more” rain? I remember it as a more all or nothing rainfall pattern. My first glimpse of California was a night-time drive up the Pacific Coast Highway after landing at LAX. It was late March in a year of heavy rains (following a big fire season the previous year); my very vivid memory almost fifty years later is of the foundations of houses that had slid down out of the canyons and were now rubble along the side of the road.

  4. March 25, 2016 6:08 pm

    Yeaaaay! Those very first buds are such a heart warming sight Jean. An early spring here too and so far quite a dry March.

    • March 27, 2016 9:05 pm

      Anna, We’ve had a warm dry winter overall. Even though everything is actually early, the bare ground has been showing for so long that I’m very impatient for spring to start. More bulb shoots have been appearing; maybe I’ll even have some of them in bloom by bloom day.

  5. March 26, 2016 8:33 pm

    In no time I am sure your garden will be jumping into bloom.

    • March 27, 2016 9:06 pm

      Donna, I’m feeling very impatient. Intellectually, I know that everything is early — but it doesn’t feel that way because the snow has been gone for weeks.

  6. debsgarden permalink
    March 27, 2016 7:26 pm

    Spring is finding its way even to Maine! I guess you are a good six weeks behind us. It will be fun to relive it as I watch your garden awaken.

    • March 27, 2016 9:08 pm

      Deb, It takes forever for spring to start here; and then when it does, everything happens so fast that if you blink, you will miss it. No long,slow, sweet unfolding here.

  7. April 3, 2016 2:08 pm

    Hello Jean, your compressed growing seasons always fascinates me. Spring bulbs are a distant memory here but it won’t be long before we’re both neck and neck and towards the end of the season, we’ll be watching out for autumn colour while you’ll be waist deep in snow again. It’s like you garden in the fast lane, I distinctly noticed it reading your blog last year!

    • April 5, 2016 9:19 pm

      Sunil, I love your description of cold climate gardening as “gardening in the fast lane.” It’s so true; everything happens in double time compared to gardens in more temperate climates. It also means that I have fewer months to work on all those garden projects that we dream about in winter.

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