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Monday, March 13, 2006

Bradford Pears and the Great Hunter Orion

There are a great many indicators that I have come to rely on in my career as an armchair Southern Appalachian Meteorologist. Bradford Pear trees are to me a sure sign that spring can now be thought of as a near future event as opposed to a distant memory. Even my speech architecture changes. I find myself saying things like “This spring I'm going to plant a few Azaleas around the mail box post”. And as additional evidence that spring has decided to grace us with it's presence once again, the great hunter Orion appears to be waving goodbye as he travels across the sky in the evening hours. I see much less of Mr. Orion now since he is on his way to announce the arrival of winter in some other part of the world. We most assuredly will meet again. However, please do not feel burdened to visit any time soon.

The Bradford Pears are really a reminder to me of how nature can have MPD (multiple personality disorder). All of a sudden the weather goes from cold, windy and rainy to 78 degrees and the trees are blooming. Winter does not like to let go all that easily. I once had a neighbor who was a tomato farmer who took a gamble one year and set out four acres of tomatoes in early April. The gamble paid off and he was the first to market with his crop that year which earned him a pretty penny. Needles to say he could name his price that year. The very next season he took the same gamble as the year before. Lets just say that most of the profits from the previous crop were spent replanting that same four acres after a late spring frost claimed the entire crop. Sometimes you win, sometimes you loose.

One particular fascination I have observed since the days of my youth are how the elders of the community will gather and discuss the coming of spring and make plans around the farmers almanac. My grandfather was one of these people who always had the free Farmers Co-Op calendar hanging on the wall with all the important information printed on it. Things like moon phases, astrological signs, sunrise, sunset how much rain to expect and of course the predicted highs and lows for the day. Everybody seemed to have their own tried and tested sure fire method of beating mother nature at her own game. “Papaw” seemed to be pretty decent at getting his crops out at just the right time of the season. He was a professional farmer you might say. This is what he did for a living back before corporate farming became the standard. Being an amateur weather man is just one aspect of being a farmer but it is a very important skill that is cloaked in secret and involves mysterious practices that can only be done in private and on occasion can involve a brotherhood of weatherman/farmers that must come together during a particularly difficult weather predicting season to pool all their resources and make decisions that has the potential to devastate and embarrass even the most weathered agricultural engineer. I'm not sure which would have been worse, a lost crop or the embarrassment of a bad weather prediction that didn't hold water. As for me, for now I'll just bid adieu to Mr. Orion and greet the blossoms with an umbrella, parka and Hawaiian print shirt. It's not a pretty sight, but I'm o.k with it for now.

3 Comments:

  • At Monday, 13 March, 2006, Blogger Leslie Shelor said…

    I know a lot of walls that would look totally wrong without that almanac calendar hanging on them. The paint is darkened in a square just that size.

    Great post that really brings the point home about what it really means to be a farmer! Thanks!

     
  • At Monday, 13 March, 2006, Blogger Fletch said…

    Great post...

    I love this time of year when the bulbs and trees start to bloom and even the schizophrenia of the weather. Here in Maryland it was 85 today, supposed to be back on the 40's by next weekend. Kind of makes you appreciate and be aware of nature more...

     
  • At Monday, 13 March, 2006, Blogger D L Ennis said…

    A very enjoyable read Mark! The Bradford Pears are blooming here too and I always look forward to it...

     

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