Patience and a warm coat required

spring, Virginia, Shenandoah Valley

What spring should look like in VA.

By Bruce Stambaugh

It’s been a long winter. That’s true whether you live in Minnesota, where winter seems eternal, or here in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, where consistent spring weather should have arrived long ago.

When it comes to weather here, there are no guarantees. Put another way, if you don’t like the weather, just wait a while. It will change.

I’ve heard people say that about the weather in Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Florida to name a few locations. Regardless of the state of residence, they are all correct. Apparently “here” is a relative place. Weather in many areas is even more fickle than politicians or used car salesmen.

That seems especially apt now when winter seems determined to hold her icy grip on the good folks in many states. Just when we think spring has arrived with a lovely warm day, the next day brings cold and wind and too often more unwanted snow.

snowstorm, Virginia

An early spring snowstorm blanketed Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.

People mumble about the unseasonable cold, impatient to get outside in shorts and t-shirts and work or play in decent weather. Excavators, contractors, and landscapers make promises they can’t keep to customers, and then justifiably blame the lousy weather for the delays.

Temperatures far and wide are 20 degrees Fahrenheit or more below average for April. It isn’t the first time, however, that the weather has played havoc with people’s springtime schedules. Record lows are in the teens from bygone years long forgotten.

I can remember a frost on June 2. My wife recalls snow on her birthday, May 27. Our young son once endured a nine-mile ride home in a four-wheel drive fire truck from a friend’s house during an April snowstorm that dumped 20 heavy, wet inches on Holmes County.

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Of course, two days later, the only remaining evidence of the storm was the snow piles from parking lots being plowed. The weather did warm up. It will warm up again, eventually.

After all, haven’t the daffodils bloomed? Aren’t the tulips ready to show their bright colors? Aren’t the tree buds swollen or even already unfurling? Has your lawn been mowed? Aren’t the robins calling out their territorial cacophonies? I bet the answers are mostly in the affirmative to that little springtime quiz.

Yes, it’s been a long, cold, wet winter, but nothing that we haven’t seen before and will likely see again. It’s just that we are so anxious for warming sunshine and frolic outside that we often lose our perspective. No matter what state of residence, we forget that all of this has happened before, not in the same order perhaps, but with the same frustrating results.

white-throated sparrow, Virginia

A handsome male White-throated Sparrow.

The other day I observed a brief, hopeful moment in my backyard that exactly proves my point of this year’s overlap of winter and spring. Side-by-side, a white-throated sparrow jumped and scratched for seed on the ground while a chipping sparrow pecked at the same offerings like a couple on a dinner date. The latter may stay, while I’ll soon miss the former’s magical song.

Seeing those two species together served a not so subtle reminder. Life goes on, just not at the pace or with the climatological conditions we humans desire. But eventually spring will indeed out-muscle winter, the weather will warm, and we’ll soon be complaining about having to mow the lawn twice a week.

Humans, you see, can be as capricious as the weather. In truth, the annual transition of hibernation to rebirth will find closure. Just be patient and keep a warm coat handy.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2018

8 Comments

Filed under birds, column, human interest, nature photography, Ohio, Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, weather, writing

8 responses to “Patience and a warm coat required

  1. Gail B.

    This blog and especially the photo warmed me this morning in more ways than one. I am wishing and hoping while waiting for daffodils and tulips north of your border. I also know Spring will come with a vengeance and we will be racing to keep pace while (after a honeymoon phase) complaining of heat and humidity. 😊 Gail

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Elaine

    You are spot on! How quickly we forget from year to year. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pamela lakits

    Well said Bruce!!! My husband played golf a few days okay here in western Pennsylvania in shorts. Today as I am typing this snow is falling outside my window. My husband has had enough and is restless to get back outside. Me, I am liking this extension of winter if only to get more inside jobs done that will end up not happening once I start outside. Though I long to hang my clothes outside to dry and go with out shoes I do try to enjoy the season we are in. After all, all too soon we will be complaining about how hot and dry or humid it is!! Smile. Loved the photo’s!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. greg

    “cacophonies’…. really?…. SHOWOFF!… I’m just messing with you Bruce :+)
    I recall an article a few years back when you invited many of us to hang out with Webster for a spell with every 3rd or 4th word.
    I’ll keep my Carhartt Thermal coat near the door.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the morning laugh, Greg. I enjoyed writing that “wordy” column. I’ll have to do another one sometime to keep you on your linguistic toes. And it looks like you’ll need that coat today, too.
      Bruce

      Like

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