A Daffodil in March

A daffodil is blooming in my garden. In March. Anyone who is not from eastern Idaho will not appreciate the amazingness of that statement. People in other places think there are four seasons--summer, autumn, winter, and spring. In eastern Idaho we have six seasons--summer, autumn, winter, fake spring, second winter, and "ugly but real" spring. Summer, autumn, and winter here are like in other places, but then in March fake spring comes. It is usually a week or two of nice weather, during which the snow melts and newcomers to the area rejoice that winter is over. Those of us who have lived in eastern Idaho a long time feel a little smug about our knowledge of how nature works here. We say things like, "Don't let it fool you. Winter isn't over yet." A few years ago in March I heard a college student, who was from here, say her roommate, who was from California, was convinced that spring had arrived, but she warned her, "No it isn't. It will snow five more times." I counted, and sure enough it snowed five more times.





Which leads to second winter. Normally we have just enough fake spring to get us hankering for the real thing, and then BAM, second winter hits. Sometimes it is severe, sometimes not, but no matter, wind and cold and snow are involved. This leads to "ugly but real" spring. It involves wind and cold, and sometimes rain and sometimes a little more snow. Then BAM, about the middle of June, it gets hot overnight and summer has arrived. That is the normal cycle of the seasons around here.

But this year something odd has happened. Fake spring came early and has lingered a long time. Bushes and trees are leafing out. Daffodils are blooming. And it's only March! We "oldtimers" are concerned. What is happening? Is this going to last? What has happened to second winter?

I have a degree in horticulture, so people keep asking me, "What is this going to do?" Sadly, my degree did not come with a crystal ball, so I don't know. "What if it gets cold again, will it hurt our plants?" That depends on a lot of factors--how cold, the kind of plant, the stage of growth it is in. I will say I am concerned about my fruit trees, that they might bloom early and get frosted and I won't get any apples or apricots. What am I doing about it? Not much I can do.

Let me tell you how we are handling this odd weather at our house. We put up our trampoline (which we always take down in winter so the weight of the snow won't stretch the springs), we put out our patio furniture so we can sit outside and enjoy the lovely evenings, and yesterday my husband went so far as to put on a pair of shorts. We've been cleaning out planting beds and pruning, and today I am planning on mowing my lawn. In other words, we are pretending the calender says "May" instead of "March."  Crazy, I know.

 There are places in this world, far away and exotic places like Boise and Salt Lake, where plants leaf out and daffodils bloom in March, and people think that is normal. Perhaps climate change is turning us into one of those places. Or perhaps this year is just an anomaly. Or perhaps in a week Mother Nature is going to cry, "Gotcha!" and throw a foot of snow at us. Meanwhile, forget what the calender says and enjoy the beautiful weather.

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