Saturday, May 12, 2007

Spring at last! Spring at last! Maybe!

Camp Connell, CA -- When you think Spring has arrived around here, it snows.
Maybe not a lot, but enough to remind you that when the long-time local folks suggest you not plant a garden until after Memorial Day (or the Calaveras Frog Jump/ County fair), they know what they are talking about.

The first picture is from about ten days ago, and shows the bulbs trying to survive an early May snowfall.

But then you wait a few days, the sun comes out, and the daffodils bloom.

And then the tulips follow.

And then, the mountain dogwood starts. (A thousand feet below us, in the vicinity of Calaveras Big Trees State Park, the woods are filled with dogwood snuggled under the giant trees.)

I asked the local snowplow operator when he could be certain we were done with snow, and he gave me the usual "you never know" answer, but then shared the widely-held belief that winter ends after the dogwood blossoms have been snowed upon.

That didn't help much because at some elevations that has happened already, and at others, including ours, we just missed that event.

One way or the other, Spring will get here.
The birds are coming back in larger numbers. The first hummingbirds are buzzing around the feeder. Flies and other bugs are starting to hatch. Robins are cruising the woods searching for the worms and critters they feed upon.
And the seasonal creek is bubbling happily, for now. It stopped once before when we had a dry spell of a week or two.
I think when it stops this time we will know summer has arrived.

One footnote for those who read about this being the "driest year ever" in California. That may be true down south, near L.A. and at Santa Catalina Island, but up here in Northern California we had an almost normal snowpack, and at this point it doesn't look a lot drier than normal, which is pretty dry every summer.
Of course that can change in a hurry and we are still clearing the leaves and pine needles away from the house, trimming dead branches off the trees, and observing the rules about burning outdoor fires only at night, and only on designated "burn days."
That's life in the mountains.