With the ides and the astronomical first day of “spring” fading into the past, we now are faced with all that stuff we should have accomplished last fall or since. There, for instance, lie the oak and sycamore (!$&*#^&) leaves, crouched into nooks and crannies and up under shrubs, where they smother out some precious little perennials for which you had high hopes some months ago when they were first set.
The quotes around the word spring are intended to get your attitude and mind in order to face up to the almost inevitable possibility of more nasty weather yet to come. We keep reminding you of the horrendous Easter freeze of 2007 when the mercury dropped down to 20 degrees, zapping numerous sapped up woody plants and rendering the foliage of early emerging perennials and annuals so much mush.
Then, more recently, on Nov. 13, 2019, a freak (for that early date) freeze of 8 degrees proved to be the coldest temperature we would receive all “winter” (actually it was still autumn by the calendar), rendering yet turgid woody things frozen to their sappy branch tips and causing some things that form buds a half year ahead to lose them so that they will produce no bloom this season. Nothing was outright killed in that freeze, but the lost buds are worth noting. We had 12 degrees here in town, but friend Beeder VanDyke out at Clifty and others in outlying areas reported 8 degrees.
All that to say this: any weather phenomenon that is an anomaly for the season of year, be it cold, heat, drought or flood, offers the potential for more damage than when it occurs at the expected time. That 12 degrees in our garden, if it had come in mid-January, for instance, would not have caused any untoward damage, but because it was so far out of season it did.
Now then, all that is past and gone into the annals of history forever. What we, and that includes even the pessimists among us, must be mindful of is the possibility that our summer will be mild, with frequent rains and no drought. Fat chance. I (and you) can count on one hand the times that has occurred in, say, 50 years. There is almost always some of such an anomaly, though it is more severe in some years than others.
I was once a second class First Class Boy Scout and our motto was “Be prepared.” That is a biblical admonition as well, and everyone from Paul the apostle to Jesus Christ Himself warned of some severity or another that we will surely face in life’s earthly vale of tears. That is why our Paris Pessimist Club has drawn so much comment. Better to prepare for bad luck and not have it than believe everything will be rosy and, instead, experience the thorns rather than the flowers.
So, let us assume the worst for the rest of spring and all of summer, leaving, for now autumn to take care of itself, as it usually does. Drag out the hoses, the drought drags on.
From Poor Willie’s Almanack — When the going gets tough, the tough get going.
JIMMY WILLIAMS is the garden writer for The Post-Intelligencer, where he can be contacted on Monday mornings at 642-1162.