Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Is This Our Blackberry Winter?

That front off there in the distance is the one that brought a tornado to Lake City and cooler, no, cold, temperatures to our area Sunday night. I went in search of sayings about cold weather in May and happened across this: "Almost any farmer can describe the blackberry winter. It's that cold spell that comes in May, about three weeks after Spring fever*. It comes when blackberries are in bloom." (Rachel Peden)

The Farmers' Almanac says it is called Blackberry Winter because it takes a few days of cold weather to stimulate blackberry canes to start growing.
Having been reared on the farm and considering myself knowledgeable in the ways of nature, I have to admit I did not know what a blackberry winter was - Indian Summer, yes. Blackberry winter, no. I had grown up with the admonition that you didn't plant until May10-15 when all danger of frost was past.
Blackberry winter has such a romantic sound to it. How could I have not known the term? Apparently it is one my mother never used. Otherwise I would have learned it!

This front brought only cool temps to us - night time lows back in the 40's and day time highs only in the 50's & 60's. The temperature and strong north wind yesterday had me running the furnace again. At least we did not have the snow.

When we came home from Oregon early last October, we were treated to our first snow of the season in Spearfish Canyon in the Black Hills of South Dakota. That same area had two feet of snow Sunday!

Today the sun is shining. The furnace is off. It is to be 65° today, 72° tomorrow and in the 80's by the weekend - from winter to summer. (At least that is how it will feel to me.)

Robert Frost may have been writing about a blackberry winter when he penned "Two Tramps In Mud Time":
"The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day.
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You're one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
A cloud comes over the sunlit arch,
And wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you're two months back in the middle of March!"

Exactly what it felt like yesterday - "the cold spell that comes in May about three weeks after spring fever."
And just in case you don't know what *spring fever is, here is Mark Twain's explanation:
"It's spring fever....you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!"

I've always known what blackberry blossoms looked like, from now on I will understand what a Blackberry Winter is.

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