Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Winter Has Lasted Way Too Long

Last January was warm enough for this orpine to begin growing
We all know someone who remains stuck in an earlier time. I knew someone who was stuck in the 1950s. He combed his hair, dressed and spoke as if it were 1958. His music, too, reflected that period of time. I haven’t seen this guy for many years and I wonder if he has ever seen fit to accept the passing of time and act accordingly.

Our climate lately reminds me of my good-time rock-‘n-roller friend. It’s stuck in January. The vernal equinox has come and gone and the sun has approximately the same strength that it exhibited in September. But these miserable arctic blasts, intrusions of super-chilled air from the north, keep bringing us January conditions in late March.

April 1 is the opening day of fishing in brooks and streams in Maine. This has no basis in practical fisheries management and is solely rooted in tradition; that’s how it’s always been.

I caught my first trout at age 4 and have been at it ever since. I have never, ever, missed an opening day of trout season. Some years I’ve had to contend with snow, other years just plain cold temperatures and sometimes rain. But never, ever, in my 62 years of fishing, have I seen prolonged cold such as what we are experiencing now.

As always, I’ve been doing my pre-season scouting. Usually, I am able to spot trout finning in bright, clear pools. But not this year. All the pools are frozen, locked in ice. Waterfalls are frozen. Everything is frozen, including the tidal river near my house. So my biggest challenge this coming opening day will be finding open water to drop a line in.

Foragers, too, have been dealt a difficult hand. In fact, I’ve got my first field trip of the year scheduled for April 23. It’s going to have to get awfully warm between now and then for us to find any plants at all.

By now, we in Maine should be feasting on the young leaves of wild evening primrose and cooking the parsnip-like primrose roots. I would ordinarily have pulled some of last year’s cattail clumps and harvested the young, white sprouts that would later become this years cattails. But I can’t because the ponds are frozen, the swamps are frozen and the cattails lie beneath a thick coating of ice and snow.

People have long-since tapped their maple trees in order to harvest the sweet sap used for making maple syrup. But the sap lines have frozen. It doesn’t get up above freezing during the day and the sap can’t flow. This will likely go down as the poorest maple syrup year of all time. Expect a price increase for maple syrup.

By now, I would ordinarily have planted lettuce and other early greens in my solar-heated greenhouse. But I can’t, because the greenhouse beds are frozen solid.

And now, another blizzard is forecast to smash into coastal Maine. Just what we need, another blizzard.

I cannot remember a year with a colder spring than this and as I said, I’ve been around quite a long time. When spring finally breaks and we get a steady diet of above-freezing days, we’ll all breathe a sigh of relief. And here’s one thing more. Like everyone else, I often complain about the weather. I’m complaining now, for sure. But you will never again hear me complain about it being too warm. Let it get hot, I don’t mind. All I’ll need to do if the heat becomes a tad uncomfortable will be to remember the spring of 2014 and that will put an end to any dissatisfaction regarding heat. 


  1. I agree. Finally, today, I've had much too much cold weather.

  2. Now you have your road conditions to look forward to, Tom
    Pete Bouman

  3. Hello Pete,

    Your note regarding road conditions was prophetic. I managed to get out and back in yesterday and that was the last time for the forseeable future. The road is a sea of mud and it is impossible for motor vehicles to navigate it. I do hope that no one has the need of emergency vehicles, because in effect, we are stranded here on the East Waldo Road. Tom