False Spring

I walked outside into the bright sunlight this morning to be welcomed by the hum of a thousand bees visiting our tree in the front yard. I watched the little creatures as they visited one dangling pollen branch after another in an aerial dance that has gone on for millions of years. I turned to see that both my wife’s white SUV and my dark green Cavalier were both covered by the light green pollen that reminded me of the pine pollen that regularly coated our vehicles when we lived up in the mountains. On the other side of our driveway is a narrow patch of earth dividing our yard from the neighbors where I had planted an apple, apricot, and plum tree. As I inspected these trees that had only shed their leaves in November I was surprised to see that they wore their spring buds. Surprised and dismayed because the first day of winter was not even a month ago.

It must be tough to be a plant in times of climate evolution when it is the mechanical responses to the change of seasons that appear to be responsible for their behavior. We have had frosts, sleet, and marble-sized hail in the fall, El Nino rains in January, and now short-sleeve Southern California sunshine barely a third of the way through winter. Whether you refer to it scientifically as Global Climate Change or, as in the popular press, Global Warming it is certainly instilling chaos with the flora and fauna of our neighborhood and I suspect many more neighborhoods about our shrinking planet. We are just over 2,500 feet above sea level and I know of a woman who maintained a number of avocado trees at an altitude of 3,000 feet. However, just yesterday, I learned from my neighbor that his Mexicola Avocado, thought to be one of the heartiest withstanding temperatures as low as 18-degrees, had perished in the last frost. That ended my plan to plant one in our own yard this year.

My wife and I went to run some errands this afternoon and it seems everywhere we drove there was the signs of spring: shrubs blooming with bushels of warm yellow flowers, dark red flowers lining the Canyon Road, and the sheer numbers of active birds make me wonder if they are already preparing for the nesting season. What a cruel joke that would be since our weather forecasters continue to predict severe weather for Southern California as this El Nino winter develops. As of yet it seems that Northern California has taken the brunt of El Nino’s fury but I am sure that our turn will certainly arrive just as it arrived when our son Matthew was five-years-old and either my wife or I stood with him in day-to-day deluges while we waited, in the bitter cold under an umbrella, for the school bus that would ferry him to his kindergarten class.

Yes, the signs of spring are everywhere they should not be in what should be for many a time of dormancy. All too soon I fear we will get another unsettling frost and even more sleet and hail to once again beckon winter’s sleep and I pray that all will fair well.

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