Friday, March 06, 2009

Spring in Kansas

Wow. I knew it had been a while since I posted, but I had no idea it's been almost 2 months! No wonder blog entries are floating around my brain constantly these days: I haven't given myself a good chance to clear them out lately.

Be that as it may, I have to write and celebrate the beginning of spring.

Of course, I'm in Kansas, so the first rule of thumb is that spring in Kansas is capricious, to say the least. A week ago Wednesday it was 76 degrees F.; last Saturday we woke up to 12 degrees F.; yesterday it was 85 degrees F. I am SOOO glad for our heated and air conditioned house. Sometimes I think it's amazing that any plants or animals can survive this land of extremes.

Saturday was especially humorous, since I woke up to the return of deep cold outside, then shortly thereafter found the first tick of the year...unfortunately crawling on my head. Presumably I have one of the cats to thank for that gift.

Truthfully, I've been talking to the weather gods for the last several weeks, asking for colder temperatures for a while still. I really hate early springs, since they are so often accompanied by the heartbreak of a late, killing frost. The weather gods have not been listening to me however...except maybe for that brief sop to their conscience at the end of last week. I gave up begging yesterday. Something in the air got to me...and I've suddenly turned a psychological corner now, where my mind and body are screaming, "It's spring! Get outside and get busy! Grow, plants, grow!"

Of course, also typical of Kansas, after 2 years of major moisture (literally record-setting last year), the skies have turned off and we've had almost no moisture at all for the entire winter. Things aren't critical yet, but I'd sure be happy to see a few days of heavy drizzle. Given the lack of rain, my first tasks this spring have ended up revolving around watering, as deeply as I have the patience for.

That's not all bad, as it gives me a relaxing time to see what's coming up. Crocuses, both established and newly planted last fall, are in full bloom. Tulips and daffodils are in various stages of leaf emergence, while the grape hyacinths are just beginning to peek through. (The latter is surprising me, because I remembered grape hyacinths as being one of the earlier spring bulbs.) Summer phlox, some of the salvias, and the hairy phlox have all developed healthy new sprouts and it's time to cut back whatever remains of last year's foliage.

I'm really curious to see what has made it through the winter. I planted late last year, especially in the back courtyard, so I don't know how well established many of those plants were before winter's cold and dry hit. We've also had an overabundance of hispid cotton rats, thanks both to that record-setting moisture last year and to the fact that I'm leaving the tall grass tall. The cotton rats are not a problem as far as invading the house goes, but they sure do eat a lot of vegetative matter.

The lilac leaves are beginning to open, which seems terribly early to me, and the buds on the Callery pears are swollen, fuzzy and showing promise of white.

The final switch into spring fever came last night, though. We had the sliding door open in the kitchen, enjoying the warm evening air. Sitting at the table I first heard migrating songbirds overhead, then the first of the chorus frogs singing in the draw. Future freezes or not, spring is here for the year.

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