By LARRY M. JONES
This past Thursday, we officially left winter behind us and began our spring season, a time for revitalization and renewal. Another season of life begins once more for Mother Earth.
Spring officially begins when the sun crosses the plane of the Earth’s equator, making night and day of approximately equal length all over the earth. This is referred to as the vernal, or spring, equinox. It normally occurs each year about the 21st of March. It varies slightly, and this year it was actually a day early, occurring on the 20th, instead.
I don’t know if it’s just me, but this year it seems to really be a couple of weeks late. Everything has been very slow greening up, but it is most likely because of the very dry conditions across most all of Texas. Last weekend I received just over an inch of desperately needed rainfall, and hopefully this will be round one of a record setting wet year.
A few days ago, as I was ambling across my front yard to retrieve my morning newspaper, I was greeted by the intoxicating fragrance of wild plum blossoms from a tree in my yard. About 10 years ago I dug up a small plum tree on a rocky bluff in my pasture and planted it in my front yard. Now it is about 15 feet tall and is covered with brilliant white, fragrant blossoms. Each year in September, Helen and I gather the fruit with which she makes the most wonderfully tangy plum jelly.
Since I have been grousing all year about a prolonged winter, I decided to do a little checking to verify my facts. Since the advent of the digital camera, I have taken more photos than in earlier years. During the past decade, I have taken numerous shots of blooming fruit trees, both wild plums and those in my orchard. It turns out that every one of the photos of wild plum blossoms over the years have been taken within two or three days of the middle of March.
From that, it would seem that each fruit tree has an internal alarm clock that goes off pretty much the same time each year, irrespective of temperature or moisture conditions. This same internal clock holds true for members of the animal world, as well. I mentioned previously that several years ago my old friend, Weldon Crawford, informed me that scissortails return to this area from their migration each year on the 27th of March. Ever since, I always try to make a note of when I see my first arrival. So far, it’s always been within a day or so.
About this time, many folks like me want to get past the chilly windy weather of March and get our gardens going. This hasn’t gone well so far. Temperatures in the mid-teens a couple of weeks ago played havoc with my onions, and I’m wondering if they will recover. Some will not, that is sure, but thankfully my sweet corn wasn’t up yet. I can live with a marginal onion crop, but don’t get between me and my roasting ears and vine ripe tomatoes.
Watch for the scissortails this coming Thursday.
Larry M. Jones is a retired Navy commander and aviator who raises cattle and hay in the Brock/Lazy Bend part of Parker County. Comments may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.