The Meaning of "Spring" in Texas
I understand that I live in Texas now, although I am not exactly a Texan. The way these roads are graded, they clearly don't expect snowplows. It was 115° F last summer (46° C). Temperatures like that would smoke out even the most reclusive New Englanders. So no, I didn't miss winter. Songs like "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" seemed silly here, instead of wistfully nostalgic, as they did in the Northeast. In northeast Texas, we had a White Christmas! In New England there was not only a White Christmas, but a white Groundhog's Day, a white Mardi Gras, and in some areas even a white Saint Patrick's Day and a white first day of spring! (Will they try for a white Easter?) Snow? You can keep the stuff.
From our house in Texas, with every single weather report, we celebrated that we weren't on the East Coast. We didn't have a storm that needed federal funds to clean up, not this season at least. There was no snow to shovel, and barely any grass to mow. In Boston, I felt as if I personally were descended from those Pilgrims who barely made it through their first winter. Here, I got in touch with my inner Butch Cassidy*.
(Last spring's tornados were scary to watch from Boston, and did receive help from the Red Cross to clean up. I receive severe weather alerts on my cell phone here--you can do the same at https://registration.weather.com/ursa/alerts/step1 And we've started talking about tornado safety.)
But what, then, of spring? There are no Iris reticulata blooming at the end of an ice-covered path. No snowdrops to peek out from under snow banks. I have signed a lease stating that we will maintain the lawn (not tear it up and replace it with bulbs, self-seeding annuals and hardy perennials). It's not that bulbs and flowers don't grow here; I said I wouldn't.
So I have resolved to find signs of spring elsewhere. (One of the first signs of spring is always a dandelion, even if you're nowhere near a garden. See picture to top right!)
The days are definitely getting longer; it is light later and later in the evening. That is a sign of spring older even than the Pilgrims, as old as the first humans noticed the seasonal nature of their world. Hummingbirds and butterflies still migrate. There are loud bird songs from outside (I first wrote that sentence in February 2013. It's almost April, 2013, and those birds are LOUD!)
Today's grocery store has pretty much the same sampling of vegetables the year around, now. The clementines are from Spain and the lettuce from California, just like in New England. The supermarket I went to in Massachusetts had a slogan: Massachusetts grown, and fresher. Here it's produce from Texas farms. I'm still not sure I trust it, but as a non-vegetable-grower...we've gotta eat, right?
People put out tomato and pepper plants here, and worry that they'll freeze, just like back east. The difference is they're discussing putting them out now, in March...in New England we put tomatoes out in May. There is a patch of tulips at the end of our street here, and people have started planting annuals...the ones that need to be replaced, that is. My pot of petunias outside the back door--that kept wilting all summer--just started to bloom again!
In New England, people are excitedly crowing over The First Crocus of the year. My daughter sent me a picture of The First Crocus in my old yard. In New England everybody commiserates about how much snow they are getting. In Texas we share how much rain we got. (¼"? ¾"? 1½"?!?!) It's exactly the same phenomenon, just on a different scale.
However....in Texas, it's been spring for a while now. Here in North Central Texas, the first crocus were a month ago. Now we're talking about the last daffodils.
In Texas, spring means before too long, you'll have no school at all. Baseball season is has started--well before "Opening Day."
It's not too cold for kids to play outside, and they never close school because of cold. They do have "weather days" built into the school calender, but they haven't used them so far, this year.
This earthkind® rose, Mutabilis, is almost always in bloom and smells wonderful.
Here's a Black Swallowtail butterfly! (Yep, they're here!)
And the very best part of spring in Texas: the state flower, bluebonnets, Lupinus texensis, should be blooming any day now!
photos copyright melody (dandelion), frostweed (bluebonnets), Emma Louise Killoran (crocus), crimsontsavo (butterfly) and growin (rosebush).
*Butch Cassidy was probably the most famous member of "the Wild Bunch," a gang of outaws who terrorized the West in the 1890s, and after whom the famous movie,"Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," is named. That's the movie which catapulted Robert Redford and Paul Newman to stardom and fame. It is eternalized in Sundance Square, a collections of stores in Fort Worth that occupy a 20 block square area downtown.