After more than 25 years in my home, this February marked the first time that my daffodils bloomed in February–along with profuse flowers of the Lenten Rose. Oddly, enough, I’ve not seen a single forsythia bush in bloom in Huntington–a shrub whose yellow flowers portend winter’s end. Winter’s end.
Hmmm. What winter? A first-year song sparrow in the yard has gone from repetitive, smile-inducing novice sounds to a full blown, “ready-to-nest with you babe” song in a few short weeks. Don’t get me wrong. I love all form of birdsong and color returning to my world, but in February it feels a little creepy and surreal.
I pay closer attention to the weather now. Years of birding and loving to be outside has attuned me to natural rhythms. Weather patterns have clearly shifted in my lifetime–bigger temperature swings, monsoon-like down pours, scarier storms, hotter summers, colder winters here and elsewhere. Last year, I cowered at least twice in the windowless room in my basement. Howling winds and a devastating ice storm last winter, sent me running for shelter in the middle of the night, lest my neighbors tenuous pine came crashing down on my bedroom and me, asleep in my bed. Kaboom! One wind storm downed mature trees all along my ridge-top, including one in my yard as well as several of my neighbor’s.
Only in the last few years, have tornadoes become a persistent threat in West Virginia–perhaps both global climate disruption and grand scale landscape changes from mountaintop removal are contributing factors. I worry.
Are these changes a harbinger of worse times ahead for humans, other life forms and our precious planet? As a favorite bumper sticker warns: Mother Nature Bats Last.