As my former classmates at Simmons College back in the late ‘60s may recall, this is the time of year when I would wander around the quad declaiming, in a loud voice, the immortal words of that well-known poet Ann Ona Muss:
Spring has sprung.
The grass has riz.
I wonder where da boidie is.
Some say da boid is on the wing,
But dat’s absoid.
Everyone knows da wing is on da boid.
And I’m not even from the Bronx.
Here in South Jersey, spring has definitely sprung, several weeks early. I was picking up supplies at a local wild bird store today, when the temperature was near 80, and found out that someone in my town had already seen a ruby-throated hummingbird – almost a month earlier than usual. I usually put out the sugar water feeders on April 15. I was thinking about doing it this year on April 1. Now I’m going to do it tomorrow, March 24.
The hummers probably won’t show up in my yard until later in the summer, after the trumpet vine blooms. What’s left of the trumpet vine, that is, after most of it was torn out when we had to replace our old fence, which was being held together by trumpet vines and bird droppings. But we did have two hummers most of last summer, and they tend to return to the same feeders every year, so I want to make sure I’m ready for them if they come back early.
I have to keep reminding myself we still have to get through another week of March and half of April before we can be fairly certain it won’t snow. And our official frost-free date isn’t until May 15, although I don’t recall a frost after mid-April for the past few years, a recollection confirmed by a Google search. It’s hard to think about the possibility of snow, though, when walking around outdoors in sandals in March.
There’s a downside to all this nice weather, though. Just talk to any owner of a ski resort or a snow removal company or a hardware store that stocks ice scrapers and sleds. I doubt they’re happy about this past winter.
And neither are the farmers. They are worried that fruit plants that are blooming too early – peaches and strawberries, for example – will suffer if there is a frost. And it is sad to see the magnificent blooms on a magnolia tree turn black overnight when the temperatures drop.
Farmers – and those of us susceptible to bug bites – are concerned, too, that insects whose numbers are controlled by their dying off over the winter have been enjoying the mild weather as much as we humans, meaning we may have a bumper crop not of plums but of mosquitoes and cabbage loopers and grubs and root worms and brown marmorated stinkbugs and ants and termites and ticks and . . . well, you get the idea. And I’ll get the calamine lotion.
Is this winter a precursor of things to come? Is it evidence of climate change, or just a weather glitch? We won’t know for several more years. But in the meantime, I plan to enjoy every minute of it, even this weekend, when it’s going to rain and be in the 50s. But at least we don’t have to shovel rain.