Field of Science

Spring in Lincolnland

Spring here in Lincolnland in the great American Midwest is more of a concept, a theoretical construct, than a reality. As if to prove my point nature provided our flowering bulbs and climatically stupid star magnolias with a snow covering and now plans to back up wintery threats with temperatures several degrees below freezing. And that’s the way it is here as often as not. Enough mild weather emerges from the cocoons of spring to raise your hopes and expectations with green buds and early flowers only to have them dashed down by one more cold front marching eastward like a chilly army bent on defeating spring.

No actual spring occurs here really. Just warring fronts, pushing back and forth, first mild, then bitter, back and forth again, and the war continues until suddenly one day in mid-May summer pushes through and exhausted by all the charging and retreating rests for five months. The weather war is repeated with the opposite outcome in November after summer hangs on well into October. It’s no wonder that those folks who live lives insulated from the reality of nature simply switch the thermostat from heat to cool without opening nary a window. And I know they do this because I’ve bought their houses and struggled to reopen windows painted shut all those years ago when central air was installed.

But no matter how buffered they are, I can’t live that way, so I fall for it every year. I emerge with the first whiff of mild weather to plant and prune and coax with the hopes of a spring and they get buried in a funeral shroud of white snow. Is there anything sadder than a magnolia festooned with drooping brown flowers? And the Phactor knows it’s really our fault for planting them too far north, but the alternative, to live without them, is unthinkable, and so for this reason the movement to landscape with only native plants will fail to capture my heart or enthusiasm. So you live for that one year in two, or three, if we are fortunate, that the magnolias will burst forth in flower without any critcal comment from old man winter.

What's left Tuesday will struggle back, sprouting up from its base, defiant. And the tough plants will once again show their toughness, their raison d'etre for being, yet, I think I shall provide my little coldframe with a bit of thermal assistance tonight, and we may yet enjoy some salad before May.

1 comment:

Larissa said...

There are no redbuds out here. That's a sign of spring I'm totally missing out on. The highway forsythia doesn't quite fill the void.