False Spring?


It feels like spring. Not the spring of Wordsworth’s daffodils. No robin sings, no tulip flowers open to the warming sun. Before entering the old growth, our only seasonal clues are warmish air and the lack of snow or ice. It’s too early in the calendar year to rule out a return of winter cold. But in the forest, we learn that its perennials don’t rely on a calendar to schedule the release of sap. The blueberry bushes have exploded into blossom. I find my first yellow skunk cabbage flower exposed on the forest floor. When we lived on the Kuskokwim River, we followed the old timers’ advice and waited to plant our garden until the birch leaves were as big as a squirrel’s ear. The elders trusted the trees to know when the danger of frost had past. But that was before the signs of climate change became incontrovertible. Can those elders still trust a birch to predict the weather?


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