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Springing into spring: So this is what we get when we let a rodent predict weather?

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Wasn’t it only a year ago that we were coming off a winter of no winter, were cavalierly planting tomatoes at mid-February, and were expecting global warming to make it possible for Minnesota farmers to diversify into cotton production?

As dandelions, henbit, Poa annua, and a botany textbook of other weeds form a near-solid blanket in a lawn that would qualify for a Scotts poster of turf disaster, and tons of tree/flower pollen and assorted botanical glop fight for the privilege of assailing my respiratory system, Holy Vernal Equinox!, Batman, the calendar says it’s the second day of Spring as I slave over a hot keyboard to write this — yet, the weather talking heads are yammering about possible snow (!!) and winter travel advisories (!!!) for parts of Tennessee, Arkansas, and possibly northern Mississippi.

This, just two days after a storm front blasted through Mississippi, clobbering some areas with softball-size hail that shattered windshields and windows, gale force winds that lifted off roofs and tossed around 18-wheelers on the highway, and pitch dark clouds that dumped copious amounts of rain, followed by a 25-degree temperature drop in less than 30 minutes.

All that just three days after a massive solar eruption sent billions of tons of solar particles streaming from the sun toward Earth at 3.2 million miles per hour, triggering spectacular displays of the northern lights and setting the world’s telecom geeks a-jitter for fear the radiation would fry satellites in orbit (apparently groundless since “Duck Dynasty” still beamed in with nary a distorted pixel).

Didn't that groundhog promise us an early spring? So much for believing in the prognosticating power of rodents...

“Now is the winter of our discontent,” Shakespeare wrote in Richard III. This winter has indeed been one of little sun, mostly gloom, murk, and drear (Adj. 1. drear— causing dejection; "a blue day"; "a disconsolate winter landscape"). Right on, Willie! Right on, Wikipedia!

As winters go in my area, things haven’t been that horrible meteorologically: a couple of piddly snows that were here and gone in hours, a few nights of temps in the teens, an ice storm scare that thankfully didn’t materialize, but kindled anew memories of the monster ice storm in ’94 that wiped out the entire electrical system in our town, leaving us without power for more than three weeks, and giving everyone a bare-bones subsistence experience of huddling around the fireplace and sleeping under mountains of quilts and blankets.

Nonetheless, stories proliferate in the scientific community of penguin populations being decimated because of warming weather in Antarctica, glaciers retreating at alarming speed, and polar ice caps melting apace, threatening to inundate coastal cities.

And wasn’t it only a year ago that we were coming off a winter of no winter, were cavalierly planting tomatoes at mid-February, and were expecting global warming to make it possible for Minnesota farmers to diversify into cotton production?

While mankind may indeed be affecting climate with our profligate greenhouse gas-generating lifestyles, weather and weather extremes still remain mostly a province of surprise.

Winter blahs aside, daffodils, tulips, and other springy flowers are acting as if spring is at hand, and barring flood, pestilence, or Armageddon, in another 90-100 days I hope to be savoring delicious sun-ripened tomatoes from the heirloom plants I started from seed, with winter but a dim memory as we luxuriate in summer’s delightfully long days.

Bring it on!

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