14 February 2017

Off Topic — Too Mild a Winter?

In spite of my love of knitting, I am not a cool-weather person. I know some people who adore that first hit of cool autumn air. I prefer the first hit of warm spring air. Some people say alpaca is too warm. I'm thinking of making alpaca pajamas. But even I, lover of sunshine and warmth, must object to this:



Yes, the St. Valentine's Day azaleas. Go back to sleep! It is only February, not April.

Last winter was a mild winter. I don't have the data, but this one might be milder. Yes, we started off the year with an ice storm. And then we moved into weeks of 50 to 70 degree weather. Cherry trees are blooming right now. Our local news reported on March-like pollen counts. We are not merely a week or two early. Some trees are 4 weeks early. My azaleas are 8 weeks ahead of schedule.

I'm not sure of the full implications. For example, in the spring the azaleas are usually covered with happy pollinators. I don't see a lot a bees, yet. This makes me wonder if there are plants blooming now who won't get pollinated? And I wonder in general about how plants and animals match themselves up with the seasons. Those who do it by the sun should be okay, I think. Hours of sunlight are not affected by climate change. (Amount of sunlight might be affected if cloud cover changes drastically, but the hours the sun is above the horizon are set by stable planetary motion.) But the living things who rely on warmth and coolness to match themselves to the seasons will be confused.

And some living things need that cool period of rest. This recent article from our local National Public Radio station WABE warns this year's peach crop may be less because peach trees are not getting the chill hours they need. As someone who loves peaches with vanilla ice cream in the summer, this is a worrisome development.

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