Wednesday, March 28, 2018

How should Spring arrive? #phenology

Willow trees have taken on golden hues. (We finally lost hope and patience and bought a handful of pussy willow boughs this morning.) Male goldfinches are starting to show patches of bright yellow. Our formerly ice-coated driveway is now readily passable. Slowly, sometimes surely, with occasional misdirections, Spring creeps Northward.

male goldfinch starting to show breeding colors
male goldfinch starting to show breeding colors
Photo by J. Harrington

This year in the North Country, Spring seems to be taking longer than "normal." We suspect that's because several of our past Springs have arrived sooner and warmer than historical trends would indicate. We don't recall seeing any analysis about increasing volatility in seasonal transitions, although we haven't looked very hard. The animation above shows some areas where Spring is early and others where it's tardy. We're concerned about whether it actually stays "Spring" once arrived. Late season snowstorms, if not to heavy, can usually be taken in stride by our hardy natives. Late season hard freezes are a different story.


USANPN
Spring leaf index anomaly

Once upon a time, when we were much younger, we remember thinking that Spring's arrival in our native Massachusetts, although often early or late, was pretty much a gradual progression more than a sudden arrival. Clearly that's not the case this year. A careful examination of the animation makes it clear that neither Massachusetts nor Minnesota has, as yet, produced enough evidence of Spring to compare with past years. Sigh! That does leave us much to look forward to, including the possibility of a sudden change of season replacing this dreary pattern we're in.

                     Willow


By Anna Akhmatova
Translated by Jennifer Reeser

...and a decrepit handful of trees.
—Aleksandr Pushkin

And I matured in peace born of command,
in the nursery of the infant century,
and the voice of man was never dear to me,
but the breeze’s voice—that I could understand.
The burdock and the nettle I preferred,
but best of all the silver willow tree.
Its weeping limbs fanned my unrest with dreams;
it lived here all my life, obligingly.
I have outlived it now, and with surprise.
There stands the stump; with foreign voices other
willows converse, beneath our, beneath those skies,
and I am hushed, as if I’d lost a brother.


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