“I caught it one day toward the end of March, just the faintest hint of softness in the air, a slight tempering of the cold, a promise that hadn’t been there before. I forgot my work and all immediate responsibilities and went out of doors. On the sunny side of the house I stood and looked and waited, expecting something to happen, but the drifts were the same and the wind out of the northwest was not different from the gales that had piled the snows for the past months. Then I became conscious of the sound of trickling water beside me -- nothing more than a whisper, but the forerunner, I knew, of a million coming trickles that would take down the drifts of the entire countryside.
It was there that I got my first real whiff of spring: the smell of warming trees, pines and balsams and resins beginning to soften on the south slopes. I waited there and sniffed like a hound on the loose, winnowing through my starved nostrils the whole composite picture of coming events.”
-- Sigurd F. Olson, Wilderness Days (Alfred A. Knopf, 1972)
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A couple of weeks ago we had a real snowstorm – not an especially big one, but sufficient to furnish us with two weekends of snow hikes, including one in snowshoes.
Since then, as you know, some totally spring-like (March/April-like) weather has taken over, which quickly melted the 10-12 inches of snow on the trails.
Extreme weather swings have become the norm in this era of global warming. Another bout of wintry weather is always possible before spring arrives “for real.”
For many of you, warm weather is more than welcome, of course. Given the short daylight hours in winter, the ever-brighter sunshine is a wonderful thing to behold.
If it wasn’t for the fact that climate change has some potentially catastrophic downsides (the increased possibility of damaging storms, hurricanes, flooding, extreme heat waves, crop failures, etc.) there would be little reason to bemoan it.
Thankfully, countless activists and organizations -- along with a few government leaders -- are doing their best to try to find ways to slow down global warming.
At the same time, life and the seasons move on. Whatever weather comes our way, many of us want to get out as often as possible to enjoy the natural world, right?
If you’ve been hanging out indoors lately, perhaps it’s time to get a jump on spring and take some hikes during this spell of mild weather, however long it may last. Of course, any cold snaps that could be awaiting us in the weeks ahead may not last very long, since spring officially arrives 3 weeks from today!
The current 10-day forecast is for daily temps to remain in the 40s & 50s. Be prepared for possible weather surprises, of course, which can occur in any season. Bring warm clothing just in case. But get ready to enjoy the lovely season ahead...
-- Charlie Cook