Monday, April 23, 2012

Blackberry Winter: Phenology for 4/23/12

Here in the Blue Ridge Mountains, summer weather arrives by fits and starts. There are traditional names for the mini-cycles of colder and warmer weather. There's usually a January Thaw, then some more snow in February, then the February Thaw. Sometimes the February Thaw lasts long enough for the first few flowers of spring to appear. After the first flowers appear, the next freeze is Redbud Winter. After that there may be another short thaw, and short freeze, that may be known as Dogwood Winter, although redbuds and dogwoods usually bloom around the same time. Some years also include a Dandelion Winter. Usually it's the first week of May when blackberries blossom, and the last freeze is known as Blackberry Winter.

I mention this because Blackberry Winter is here today. I got up this morning scolding myself for not having got in more exercise yesterday (it was wet) and feeling sluggish and chilly. To my surprise, the outside thermometer was showing 37 degrees Fahrenheit, which really is chilly. I walked out to the computer center, anyway, and saw many flowers: tulip poplars, trumpet flowers, my irises in the yard, red and white clover, dandelions, buttercups, shepherds' purse, celandine, a roadside nuisance that has cute little yellow blooms before growing into a nasty burr-weed, phlox in one neighbor's yard, red-hot pokers in another neighbor's yard...and, on a hillside above a road, feral blackberry blossoms.

Won't some Gentle Reader out there please send me a digital camera. I would love to share these odd bits of weather with you.