This time last year

Snowbound in February, 2011

This time last year, our red dirt world was covered in snow due to a blizzard of epic proportions. Oklahomans aren’t used to twelve inches of the white stuff, and so much frozen precip ground the state to a halt. I enjoyed it, but Bill, who had a snow contract, worked really, really hard. So did all of his employees. After removing a mountain of snow, they got the city moving again.

In 2010, it snowed in early February too. We’re told we may get rain or snow this weekend, and still parched from last summer, we will be glad for it. We’ll even take snow. A touch of snow would be our first seasonable weather this winter.

Odd isn’t it? I think this has been the nicest winter of my lifetime thus far. I have small crocus popping up out of the soil and other bulbs can hardly contain themselves.

Helleborus x nigercors 'Honeyhill Joy'

My hellebores are in bud, but they haven’t broken open yet. The hamamelis, both ‘Diane’ and ‘Arnold’s Promise,’ are starting to crack open and show color. These are all about two weeks early if we can believe blog posts from the last four years. Everywhere I go, the talk is about the weather and what it means for our spring gardens. It seems in my prairie state the talk is often about the weather. Too hot, too cold, unseasonably snowy or too warm, drought . . . . Take your season, take your pick.

Right after the weather exclamations, I’m usually asked about climate change. My official stance here is I have no answers. I’m not a scientist. I’m a gardener and a writer which means I have a liberal arts education. Not very scientific, unless you count botany. I can tell you this . . . the weather of the last few years is the strangest I’ve seen since I started gardening. I’ve seen more snow and more drought. The extreme heat of last summer was the worst I’ve ever seen, and I pray next summer won’t hold the same for us.

I don’t know how many summers like that I can take.

Gardeners in Oklahoma are worried about future summers. They discuss the weather at the horticultural meetings. They ask each other what to do. Sometimes, I feel like we’re the farmers of the 1930s in the dust bowl planning our crops. It isn’t that desperate for most of us because we don’t depend on our gardens to eat, but it feels that way.  Landscapers and nurserymen certainly took a terrible hit last summer.

I took this photo of the burnedout trees a couple of days after wildfires raged for miles in central Oklahoma. This area is about ten miles south of my land.

The fires of last fall are not forgotten either. Trees like these are a stark reminder of all people lost like homes, cars and pets. Beneath the black trunks of burned out trees, green is showing yet again. Earth is renewing herself, and fire gave her a toehold for smaller, weedy plants which now have sunlight to grow.. It’s an eerie sight.


7 Replies to “This time last year”

  1. After several weeks of temps in the 40’s and 50’s, we have received 10 inches here (western New York) in the last 24 hours. The weather has been so unpredictable thus far.

  2. It does consume us, doesn’t it? Hard to believe that snow storm was a year ago. Even we had snow on the ground. It’s awful hard to garden with your fingers crossed all the time!

  3. Yes, what a difference a year makes. We also have not gotten much snow, but expect some tomorrow… maybe an inch or two they said. We’ll see. In the meantime, we start planning for spring and hope that our summer isn’t as dry as the last two. They weren’t quite as bad as yours, but they weren’t good, either.

  4. Hi Dee, This weather is a wonder isn’t it. I hope and pray we don’t have the worst weather again this summer. UGH. Not only will it be a trial for me but my poor garden won’t be able to take much more. Those burned trees are eeerie looking. Here’s to a better gardening year full of moderate temps and plenty of rain.

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