As I sit at the kitchen table on a beautiful, sunny, April 29th afternoon, the thermometer nearby reads 87 degrees. The record high for this date is 96; the normal high 72. So we're a little over halfway between normal and record heat, on the high side.
This wouldn't be anything to think twice about except for the fact that 4 days ago we were at the end of a record-setting cold streak, having set record cold temperatures for April 23, 24, and 25th at 32, 25, and 33 respectively.
And in 3 1/2 more days, we are supposed to be right around freezing again, probably another record cold temperature.
Our poor plants don't know whether to go ahead and leaf out and bloom, or continue to hunker down. Gardeners are having troubles too: do we go ahead and put the tomatoes out yet, or wait another week? Surely NEXT week will bring stabilized temperatures!
Last Monday night through Wednesday morning were particularly challenging: Monday had been a pretty spring day with warm temperatures. Thunderstorms moved through on Monday night, bringing lots of wind, lots of rain, and a fair amount of hail.
By Tuesday morning, the temperatures had dropped precipitously and the plants were showing the effects of the previous night's storms. Despite the fact that it had been several hours since the last hail fell, there were drifts of small hail storms that ended up lasting most of the day. Here is one such drift beside the front walkway....
Prairie plants have to be tough. Most true natives are still underground and only beginning to think of sending their fragile new growth skyward. A late spring, like this one has proven to be, illustrates the encoded wisdom of the prairie's late green-up timing, even though the human spirit is aching for earlier signs of spring.
As I swelter in today's heat, I can't help thinking ahead to Friday morning's cold - hopefully it will not get as low as they are predicting. Even prairie plants and tough non-natives will get hurt by late freezes eventually. Not to mention that this prairie inhabitant is ready for tomatoes!