Thursday, March 31, 2016

A Too Early Spring

For the past three days, my car’s trunk and back seat have been filled with large bags stuffed with wilted grasses, stems, and branches. And the car is starting to smell a little like dried vegetation. I planned on unloading the bags at the town Compost Center when it is customarily open on either Tuesdays or Thursdays and then getting the car aired out and washed. But each time I have driven by the compost area, the gates have been locked. No sign is posted, but I did see a small-print notation on the town calendar stating that the Compost Center is open for only limited hours before April 1. None of those hours were during the past three days, obviously. But, luckily, April 1 is tomorrow. No foolin’!
My car is loaded with compost-ables
Now, ordinarily, April 1 would be plenty early enough to dump my wilted winter waste, but this has not been a normal winter or early spring for that matter. The ground is already warm enough to clean up the mess and begin planting flowers. That’s why I have those bags of vegetation to compost, if only the gates were open. The calendar says March, but the ground says late April, and the town is going strictly by the calendar.

At our vacation place in Vermont, spring conditions hit in late February this year to everyone’s chagrin there. No snow has fallen in southern Vermont since mid-February, making skiing pretty problematic. We did go up the first week in March, hoping to enjoy what ski resorts call “spring skiing”—soft snow, moderate temperatures, and light crowds. What we found were icy trails with occasional brown spots and an ice storm one morning followed by rains and heavy winds the next. We spent a lot of time either in our home there or walking the dog. And she spent a great deal of time sniffing every inch of snow-free soil.
Tess gives the snow-free Vermont soil a sniff test
Growing up in Georgia, I never knew that spring soil has a special smell. When the ground lays under snow for several months and then emerges, it gives forth a rich, loamy aroma. Northerners take this aroma for granted, but Southerners are surprised by it. And my northern dog enjoys taking it all in. In New Jersey, we have had so little snow this year, that the spring smell has never really been in the air.

Politicians may be debating whether there is climate change going on, but not me. When we visited Savannah Beach in late December, the mix of warm air and chilled ground left the beach cloaked in fog and looking like some kind of moonscape. An apple tree in our neighborhood gave up all of its leaves by December 1 but was still bearing apples from its branches on January 1. I’m not sure how to explain all of his. Global warming, perhaps? Definitely, in our small part of the globe.
Moonscape at Tybee
Apples in January
Politicians and meteorologists can do their debating and analyzing. I’m just hoping that the Compost Center gates will be open tomorrow, so I can get my car back.

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