As we were laying sod today, having been told to expect rain, I realized how good we currently have it. The weather in North Carolina, for the most part, is changeable and tends to run in wet/dry cycles. This year, however, we have been given a reprieve, it seems. The winter was not snowy, nor icy, nor dreary. For the most part, it was a “California” winter: warm, wet, and generally pleasant. Then it has just kept getting better. March and April have been pretty darned impressive, what with the rains and the warmth, and the blue skies. I have been taking pictures like crazy this year, simply because all our plants and flowers and trees have been at their best and lasting so long! I am often accustomed to watching the Irises wither in the mid-April heatwave we often get. Same thing with the Wood Hyacinths- a haze of blue begins to cover the forest floor, and before too many days, a warm wind blows though and curtails their big show. This year the Irises started in March and are still going! I actually saw some purple Iris blooming in December! For that matter, the Daffodils were also blooming in December – crazy! And to top it off we did not get a late-season freeze as we sometimes do. I always keep in mind that in late April 2005 there was a night or two in the low 20′s, and we had had a warm winter like the one we just did: the Crepe Myrltes had all shot up, the Wisteria were in their Glory, even the Dogwoods were caught by surprise! I made it a rule after that never to advise planting until at least then, just in case! But this year has been the exception to all the rules, and no, I would not attribute it to Global Climate Change. The Carolinas exist in a transitional climate zone, and this is not unusual weather for around here. What I love about the Natives is their uncanny ability to forget their own weather! If I have heard it once, I have now heard it dozens of times “it never gets this hot here!”, or “it never usually gets this cold here”, or ” I can’t remember a time when it has been so dry!”. Well, I sort of watch the weather for a living, and have to chuckle when folks say that, since I can usually recall when it was whatever they say it never is! I have been here since January 2003, and came to visit during the once-in-twenty-five-year ice storm of ’02. Since then I have seen it drought out a few times, been through a few Tropical storms, and been lashed by three small hurricanes. I have seen it snow several feet, had weeks of below-freezing temperatures, and wished to God that summer would end. I think I have witnessed a fairly even distribution of Carolinian weather, and have come to expect the cyclical nature of it. Truth is, if you look back at climate records for this area, and consider it has been consistently inhabited and watched for several centuries, you can see for yourself that the climate here has always had its ups and downs, and that there is no obvious shift towards one direction or another. There was a deep freeze that swept through the whole south – all the way to Miami and New Orleans – in 1903- and killed palm trees and camellias that had been planted hundreds of years prior. Likewise, there were longer and more severe droughts here in the 1920′s, and the record heat numbers are still in the past, for the most part. Cities create their own microclimates, and records taken there do not reflect the surrounding, more rural parts of the countryside. So while Raleigh may have certain numbers that seem to show some change, it is more likely that they are peculiar to the city environment and not illustrative of the climate in, say, Oxford. Just a thought.
The real purpose of the post is to invite you to stop and consider our good fortune and great weather! Stop and smell the flowers that everywhere are putting on the best show in years, and remember that it will all be gone soon enough! Summer is just around the corner, and no one can say whether or not it will be brutal or beautiful, so join me in looking around and seeing all that Nature and its God are offering for our appreciation!
Happy Spring, and keep checking in for new posts and pictures. Mark