Field of Science

First flower of winter

December 25th, Christmas Day, 2015.  After a morning of exchanging gifts and eating breakfast, the Phactors took a 6000+ stride walk, according to Mrs. Phactor's new fitness accessory, basically TPP's round trip to campus, a lovely walk during which a friend photographed a black squirrel.  TPP knows about melanistic squirrels but had never seen one around here. Checked out the surrounding neighborhood to see where things were going well and where things need some work. But upon our return home and while picking up all the downed limbs from a recent windy night, you have perhaps heard of our oak tree that hates rhododendrons (an anti-rabbit fence made a save), well that limb had many companions around the property. But there it was defiantly yellow in the middle of our ecologically diverse lawn, the first flower of winter, and here it was only the 4th official day of winter, i.e., since the solstice.  Technically it's an inflorescence, so dozens of flowers, but  you know what TPP means. 
What an unexpected splash of color totally emphasizing the unusual nature of our weather of late. US weather services report so many temperature records and other stuff that December 2015 will go down as one of the most anomalous months in weather history.  So no wonder plants are confused, and in the long haul, confused plants are not a good thing. Now our lawn flora is nothing to worry about, but when fruit trees flower too early, you lose your crop to the cold snap that follows.  Highly unpredictable weather will have an impact on our food supply.  So yes, you may look upon the 1st flower of winter as a harbinger of things to come that will not be good. Welcome to the weather of climate change. 

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