For a month now, I have noticed the catkins on the hazelnut (filbert) bushes in the yard.Â They have been a bright spot in the landscape.
The witchhazel flowers have greeted me as I have gone in and out the front door, and now I notice swelling buds on the red-flowering currants again.
I haven’t been out in the actual yard much, but I do see a few bulbs beginning to show green — hyacinths under the medlar, a couple of tulips seem to be trying to show themselves as well.
I occasionally hear frogs out in the boggy spots in the back near the cow pasture or in front near the blueberry bushes.
The grass is green — so green, and growing quite tall in this, the supposedly dormant season.
I am afraid the peach tree may not make it this year — it has not been cold enough to support good growth.
It has rained some, but not as much as in a typical year — and except for the brief VERY cold spell in December the winter has been considerably warmer than most years.Â January is the warmest on record, average highs and lows in Seattle about 6 degrees F above normal.
What does this mean?
In terms of personal comfort, it has been quite nice.Â Our heating bill is lower, and I have worn heavy winter gear only a few times.
In terms of flora, it may or may not be a good thing, depending on the chill requirements for optimum growth; and with luck it won’t get really cold again, since everything thinks it’s spring already.
In terms of fauna, the frogs are singing at the wrong time of the year, and I hear songbirds more often than I expect.
In terms of snowpack and summer water, this does not bode well.Â We need the snow on the mountains to melt slowly in the warm months.Â I have seen several news reports that the rivers that begin in the glaciers on Mt. Rainier are getting clogged with silt and gravel because the water is flowing when it shouldn’t.
The biggest challenge will be whether spring and summer are normal, or warmer than normal like last year, or cooler than normal.Â Anything could happen.
Maybe — it’s an “El Nino” year, so not completely unusual.Â But if this happens many years in a row…