LOCAL VIEW —Sudden Summer—

Battered and bleary, my winterized flesh
Walked out into riotous, rollicking,
Unreserved song, staleness made strangely fresh
Because dawdling Spring took so long to wing
Its way north. Out into delayed dawn
I walked, out from a night that was too long.
Where birds sing, I open my mouth to yawn,
And where they fly, I limp, and don’t feel strong
Though I do feel young. I walk on in pain
I flinch from, over the drive’s dewy gravel,
As young as the songbird’s ancient refrain
And heedless of convention’s hard gavel,
For birdsong is honey, but it also is sweet
To be an old man walking with bare feet.

Considering there was frost on my truck’s windshield during yesterday morning’s pre-dawn, and today I walked out to my truck in bare feet before the sun rose, you can tell there has been a major “flip” to the weather pattern. It is something I’ve been expected since before my taxes were done, around April 12, and is one of the rare cases where Joe Bastardi didn’t quite nail a forecast….or didn’t nail it for my neck of the woods.  He did say he was “worried” about the northeast and possible back-door fronts, but I don’t think anyone guessed how reluctant the spring would be to creep this far north. Nor do most people realize what a close call we just had: all that was needed was a bit of a tweak to the weather map here, and little twist there, and the little gale slipping east off the Carolina coast would have come north and given us the sort of cold rain that turns to May snows.

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(My revenge on Mr. Bastardi will be to steal his words for the title of this post. I think he’s the originator of the phrase “a suddenly-summer weather pattern”.)

The storm sliding out to sea is yet another chance of rain we have missed, and I’m wondering if this could be a summer of drought. I look back fifty to sixty years to see a pattern with attributes like the current pattern, and can remember how low the reservoirs I illegally fished from got, especially in the early 1960’s. (The worst fires in recent New England’s history occurred in 1947, but that spring was wet.)

The drought has been a blessing in some ways, as we had four feet of snow laying about in March, and a couple of heavy, warm rains could have caused floods and made a total gloppy mess of things. I was half-expecting a spring like the spring of 1972, which turned the farm to a swamp and severely dented my ambition to be a farmer. (The mud-season usually ends when summery sunshine dries things out, but 1972 brought an extended mud-season, and the final straw came when the rains from former Hurricane Agnes wandered north in mid June, at which point I threw up my hands and decided wading about in muck was not the life for me, and began planning to make a fortune writing a novel and also to hitchhike up to see the total eclipse of the sun in Nova Scotia on July 10.) (And yes, I do think Carly Simon’s song is about me, though she was writing about the Nova Scotia eclipse of March 7, 1970.)

In any case, spring will be busting out all over, as we get a solid week of sudden-summer, and, as all the trees slurp up water, the levels of the brooks will visibly drop an inch or two. (The level rises again when leaves come off in the fall.) The trees suck up an amazing amount of water, and change the humidity of the air, and the very feel of the forest is altered as a thing called “shade” is resurrected. Right now the forest is mercilessly hot, and you have the brief sense you are walking about in the devastation after a nuclear blast.

Not that I’ll have much time to walk about the woods, or sit here musing about droughts and eclipses that happened a half century ago. Everything will be growing like gangbusters in the garden, especially the weeds, and if you slack off, you pay. I suspect my posts will be written after dark or before dawn, and will be brief.

As a side note, “The black flies are out, but aren’t biting yet.” They like a wet spring, for, unlike mosquitoes, they breed in flowing water. A dry spring is less buggy, and gives me less reason to flee indoors and write posts.

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