Screen shot of a Status of Spring page map at USA National Phenology Network
A few days ago I saw four turkey hens feeding together in the field where at least one of them will probably raise some chicks in a few months. Overhead the same day, I heard calls of two red-shouldered hawks, followed immediately by loud squawks of a whistle-blowing blue jay. Yesterday, the first iridescent blue flash of the season signaled the arrival of an indigo bunting.
I read all of these as signs of a seasonal shift, though a sense of spring swirling inside me revealed itself well before these outer manifestations. Lately I've made all treks up and down the holler -- on foot or in the car -- with a more intentional gaze toward the places where toothwort, rue anemone, Carolina spring beauty and trout lily will soon evoke my surprise and delight.
I also messed around in my planter garden this week, poking in a few bulbs, cutting back dead stems, making mind-notes about stuff I need to do before sowing herbs or buying a few blossoming annuals for early insect and hummingbird visitors. This year I'm recycling parts of old flower pots to make a shelter for toads that hang around the planters.
Is all of this happening earlier than usual? And what's the weather outlook?
As I write this, it's 43 degrees outside. We've had rain and flash flood watches for the last 3 days. The predicted low for tonight is 21 degrees; predicted high for tomorrow is only 37, with an even colder low at 18 degrees. Saturday will be warmer. This pattern has circled around two or three times since 2020 began and probably will repeat itself over the next few weeks.
I'll be monitoring my planters and the rest of the holler to see how plants and birds are faring with this meteorological chaos.
See these articles/pages for more on the challenges of an early spring to trees and flowering plants:
Spring has arrived weeks early in the South (Washington Post 2/13/20)
Status of Spring page at USA National Phenology Network