The end of summer usually brings a sigh of relief. It means that the oppressive heat and humidity of summer is almost done and cooler brisker days are ahead. The long dry spells that normally stretch through July and August will be gone. Here in the Midwest we’ve had three summers in a row that have been hot and miserable, with a drought that started in 2011 and didn’t really end until this year. But not this year, 2014 started off with a long cold miserable winter that just wouldn’t quit. It dragged on for months, stomping on spring and kept its hold on Mother Nature forcing late blooms and delayed planting.
This year after winter finally withered away, leaving spring a mere shadow of its self, summer came waltzing in lightly warming the days. We had ample rain early on staving off the need for watering the garden vegetables I planted. The days were really quite pleasant with temperatures reaching the high eighties with a few days in the low nineties, not the normal high nineties with days creeping into the hundreds. This summer has been a very nice gift from Mother Nature. Maybe she felt bad about the miserable past winter.
The down side to a cooler summer meant a late start on the vegetables I planted. It was well into July before my cucumbers, zucchini and squash started bearing fruit. I had lots of blooms but no fruit. I was beginning to think nothing was getting pollinated. I wondered where the bees were. I learned that because of the long hard winter and the milder summer it was taking longer for the ground to warm up enough for hot weather vegetables and fruits, like peppers and tomatoes, to get started. My cantaloupe didn’t start making baby cantaloupes until almost September. I will probably have a ripe cantaloupe about the time of the first frost.
Normally I look forward to the changing colors of fall foliage, but not this year. I want more summer. I want more time outside in the garden. This year when I look out the window and see the leaves starting to turn color I feel a sense of loss and a little sad, like something inside me is shutting down and dying. This was a great summer, one that I spent almost every weekend outside working in the yard and I’m not looking forward to the bitter cold and biting winds. I am not ready for fall not this year.
Maybe I feel this way because I’m coming up on my one year anniversary of being diagnosed with breast cancer. Maybe that’s why I’m feeling a sense of loss I don’t know, because I try not to let myself dwell on depressing things. Maybe I feel this sadness because I feel great and am working out, getting back in shape and am afraid of the other shoe dropping. You know the feeling that if you are this happy then something bad is going to happen, just to balance out the happy. Crazy, huh?
Maybe I’m just overthinking it, I don’t know. I just wish that summer wasn’t over yet. I guess I need to move to the Caribbean, it stays pretty nice there all year long.
We’re having the usual August heat wave, which seems so much more miserable because this summer we have been very lucky to have had very pleasant temperatures in the eighties instead of the usual nineties. But just in case we’re feeling sorry for ourselves and wishing for some cooler temperatures I just want to remind everyone of what is coming sooner than we want.
Just saying, it may be hot now but way too soon it will be cold and miserable.
I must be getting old. I’ve never been a super big fan of the cold, preferring to stay inside bundled up with about a hundred layers. I make the effort to take the dogs on their walks like a dedicated pet owner, but if there was a way to get them to hold it until say, March I wouldn’t complain. Of course that isn’t possible so I put on multiple layers and go tromping outside. But it is definitely not fun, since the temperatures have been bitterly cold the last few days with highs in the teens.
The up side is that both of the dogs are getting old too. Orso is now seven and Charlie is a senior citizen at nine. Neither one of them is too enamored with hanging outside too long. Charlie has short hair and gets cold quick and Orso is just a big sissy. This morning our first outing consisted of running outside after breakfast for a quick trot around the yard to do their business and a mad dash to get back inside where it was warm and carrots were waiting as treats. The second outing was later than usual around ten am, with us holding out hope for a heat wave, (didn’t happen), but at least the snow was very light by then. The temperature had warmed up to a sultry eighteen degrees Fahrenheit.
I had on a tee shirt, a flannel shirt, micro fleece jacket and a lined parka and that was just on the upper half of my body. The lower half I had on sweat pants and insulated wind pants, which work very well for keeping my legs warm and the wind out, I just swish when I walk. I even wore silk glove liners and down leather mittens. I am the bigger sissy here and I’m not afraid to admit it. I think it took longer to get dressed than it took for the walk. We did not dally on the walk, it was walk, get to the task at hand and get back home.
The third outing after they ate dinner was pretty much a repeat of the second outing, with me looking like a chunky monkey dressed in a gazillion layers with a drippy nose from the cold. Why couldn’t they have been litter trained like a cat? More importantly why don’t we live some place warmer?
We have hatchlings! Just about two weeks to the day that I discovered the Robin’s nest and the three eggs have now hatched. Now we have three tiny bodies that are all mouths chirping away mouths open waiting impatiently for their meals.
Everyday Mitch and I would peek out the kitchen window to check on mama to make sure she was still there and hadn’t abandoned the nest. Each time the nest was empty I worried that she wasn’t coming back. Weird huh, worrying about a bird and its nest? It’s not like Robins are close to extinction or that I’m an extremist ornithologist. Normally I don’t think twice about a bird’s nest and its contents. The only time I even notice one is when I see broken eggshells on the ground or the nest gets blown out of the tree.
I think the reason this time is different is because the nest is so low to the ground, I can see in the nest standing next to the Hibiscus bush. Being five foot two is low to the ground. No concerns for overhead height restrictions here. We have watched and worried about predators getting too close. There are a lot of cats and snakes here. I have worried about the weather, the rain and the cool temperatures. You would think it was my nest and my eggs.
Now though we hatchlings and new worries. Will the predators get to them, will they go out and party missing bird curfew? I want to get close and take pictures but knowing mom and dad will be close by, I’m not that stupid. I like my head without any holes from bird beaks or worse I don’t want the parents to abandon the nest leaving the babies.
But for now we hatchlings and I get to watch them grow.
Dare I say the words? I don’t know. Maybe I shouldn’t even think it. I’m not a superstitious person, not usually anyway, but sometimes it just seems that from my mouth to Mother Nature’s ear. Last year everyone called it the “Winter that didn’t Happen” and this year it’s been the “Winter that won’t go Away”. It’s now May 5th, Cinco de Mayo, and we’ve been beset with snow and cold miserable weather across a fair amount of the country since February.
I wanted to plant radishes and lettuce while the weather was still cool, that didn’t happen. No cool weather, but lots of cold wet icky weather. So no fresh radishes or lettuce this year. Last week my son had to cover his beds with a cold frame to protect the young plant shoots of his onions, potatoes, lettuce, etc. Next weekend is Mother’s Day, the official day to plant tomatoes and other warm weather plants. But I don’t know, the highs have been only in the forties and fifties, so the ground hasn’t had a chance to warm up much.
Today, though the sky is brighter, there is still cloud cover but the temperatures are warmer. The high today is supposed to get up in the sixties, woo hoo. The forecast for the week is looking optimistic, highs in the seventies, okay I can live with that. One of our fears is that we will go from winter to summer, boom with no transition. Just one day it will go from cold to blazing hot.
Back to my original question, dare I say the words? I guess I’ll take a chance, here goes, “Maybe it is finally Spring”. There I said it, cross your fingers.
It’s the end of March, Spring has officially arrived but Mother Nature wants us to know who’s really in charge around here.
Photos by Susan Kelly using a 55-250mm lens
Thursday the weather forecasters finally got it right. We have been in a severe drought since last June, so there hasn’t been much for them to talk about. It has been so bad that the mere suggestion of the possibility of precipitation has brought a flurry (no pun intended) of continuous weather reports. Our weather forecasters were downright giddy throughout the day having successfully predicting the Great Snowmageddon of 2013. It was touted as the biggest single day snowfall in decades.
They started predicting that the storm would arrive at midnight on Wednesday dropping one to two inches an hour. We got up at 2:30 am and looked outside, no snow, what a disappointment. We figured the weathermen got it wrong, again. We would probably just get a dusting. Well the snowflakes didn’t start to fall until about 7:00 am on Thursday long after we had been up and at work. It snowed with a vengeance for about 5 hours coming down fast and furious.
People were getting their cars stuck in the middle of the roads or sliding off the roads into ditches and just leaving their cars where they got stuck, causing huge traffic jams and wrecks. It was as if a lot of people that have lived here for years had forgotten how to drive in the snow. People over-estimated their ability and under-estimated the conditions. It made for spectacular news coverage. Nothing like a massive blizzard to give the media something to talk about. The media had reporters out on the roadways taking pictures of snarled traffic throughout the city, interviewing stranded travelers and pretty much making nuisances of themselves, as usual.
We ended up with about nine inches of snow and in the process making tow trucks, body shops and car dealers very happy. Business is booming for them.
Oh and Orso thinks the snow is pretty awesome!
When it’s too cold to go outside, the best playground is our bed. The favorite game is King of the Bed.
“Just try and get up here”
I’ve been acclimatized! It all started last winter. We had a very mild dry winter, no complaints here. That weather pattern carried on into spring, delivering a warmer, drier than normal spring, still very few complaints. I was able to get my garden planted earlier, did a bunch of dividing and transplanting plants. I even fertilized and spread weed killer on the yard. That’s when the rain officially stopped here. Finally we have had the summer from hell, literally. This has been the driest year on record and one of the hottest in history. Absolutely miserable. We’ve had to water, water and water constantly, driving to me consider getting a second job just to pay the water bill.
Finally the sweltering heat dropped down from the hundreds to a more normal realm of the eighties and low nineties. Yesterday I walked out of work to go to lunch and was greeted with eighty six degree temperatures and thought it felt very comfortable and mild. Can you believe that, eighty six degrees and I thought it felt very comfortable and even a little cool with the wind blowing? I had to look at the thermometer just to confirm the actual temperature. This morning we took the dogs on their morning walk at 4:30 and it was sixty five degrees, where was my jacket? This does not bode well for me when we revert back to our normal freezing winter.
I may have to start wintering in Florida.