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Rumours of spring March 22, 2008

Posted by eyegillian in Canada, change, environment, global warming, nature.
Tags: , , , , , ,

Indian Creek

Originally uploaded by Seeing Is

Spring is returning to the frozen north. I met someone who knows someone who saw a robin the other day. This is how the rumour starts.

I haven’t seen Spring personally, but I’ve been looking for signs of it. The quality of snow in the woods is soft and grainy. The evergreens smell like sap. The squirrels are building nests.

Yesterday afternoon the sun felt warm on my back. Ice is breaking up in the harbour, and the creeks are running full. There are bare patches, glimpses of last year’s grass hummucking up between the lace-crusted edges of hard snow.

There are starlings burbling in the city again, and sandals are appearing in the shoe stores.

I’ve seen reports of newborn lambs in England, goslings in Montana, and red-winged blackbirds in south-western Ontario. I’ve seen photos of crocuses in Indiana, Oregon, Virginia and Nova Scotia. California has already seen its first butterfly, and gophers are coming out of hibernation in Saskatchewan.

In the midst of these cheering reports — for those of us who have had a long-enough winter already, thank you very much — some folks are saying that spring is too early because of the effect of global warming.

And sneezes are coming earlier in Philadelphia. A recent Associated Press report says that, on March 9, when allergist Donald Dvorin set up his monitor, maple pollen was already heavy in the air. Less than two decades ago, that pollen couldn’t be measured until late April.

“For wind-pollinated plants, it’s probably the strongest signal we have yet of climate change,” said University of Massachusetts professor of aerobiology Christine Rogers. “It’s a huge health impact. Seventeen percent of the American population is allergic to pollen.”

Biologists may be worried, but I am loath to let fears over global warming dilute my joy in the coming of spring.

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Related Links:
Global warming ushers spring forward
Toronto Star: Signs of spring
NASA: Spring is Aurora season



1. lavenderbay - March 23, 2008

I agree with your concluding sentiment. While we should all do our part to keep from wrecking the planet, we shouldn’t have to be so distraught that we end up resenting the delicately balanced beauty of nature.
I’m also wondering, if so many people have weakened immunity to everyday plants, how many of us are adversely affected by waste from factories, mines, pulp mills, automobiles, et cetera? If we were to worry as much about pollution as about pollen, maybe there wouldn’t be so much global warming in the first place?

2. Why do birds sing in Spring? « exploring our world - March 23, 2008

[…] Check out this great post on all things spring over on Exploratorium […]

3. Richard - March 23, 2008

I like your last point too – while it’s a shame to see global warming playing out with these earlier springs, there’s no way I’m wishing it could be winter for any longer!

Despite the fact it’s snowed quite a lot today here in England, there are loads of daffodils in bloom, and you’re right about the newborn lambs. Spring is without doubt my favorite season – just when everything seems dull and depressing, life slowly starts to spring back. It starts slowly at first, but then gets faster and faster until you leap forward into summer. It’s definitely a season for hope and optimism.

By the way, I love the way you write Gillian – I can imagine you being a good author or poet. 🙂

4. eyegillian - March 23, 2008

Thanks for the comment, Lavenderbay. That’s a good point about pollution vs pollen. Maybe pollen is a bigger news story because of all the people who have to take a drug to combat the effects. We’ll be in real trouble once the drug companies start marketing to folks affected by pollution allergies!

5. eyegillian - March 23, 2008

I agree, Richard, spring is definitely a season for hope and optimism! I used to like autumn best, but I have to say that I appreciate spring more as I get older (and enjoy winter less).

And, aw gee shucks, I appreciate the compliment, too — maybe someday I’ll be a poet, but I’m not holding my breath.

And thanks for the link, too – you are a generous soul!

6. paula - March 24, 2008

Hi there Gillian – a quick drop in though as you know I’ve been lurking for an age now! An early, not quite ready for Easter has overtaken me with a house full of family.
Because of what I do I always record when the first this or that is or was and really spring is not unusually early this year. More than the warmth it’s the length of daylight that has the most impact on wildlife and us humans. Birds start to sing, chickens lay eggs, sap rises in the trees, deer drop calves and humans get up in the morning without feeling it’s still the middle of the night. So enjoy the waking up of the world unreservedly!
And as you say, spring is very, very welcome though I do still love autumn.

7. eyegillian - March 24, 2008

I’m glad you dropped by, Paula. I hope you had a wonderful Easter!

And thanks for that cheering thought about the daylight; whether or not the climate is warmer, the turn of the earth still brings us longer days and shorter nights. I know I feel the coming of spring, and getting up in the morning is much easier than it was a month or two ago, especially with the occasional burst of birdsong out my window!

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