I saw a neighbor who told me the area had gotten six feet of snow in the last month, more snow than we had gotten all winter, as much snow as we get in a “normal” winter. But is there anything like normal anymore when December is warm enough to sit on the back deck, while April delivers walloping snowstorms, one after the other?
So miracles do happen, it turns out. All during this dry winter, every time we got a few inches of snow, hopes were raised that it would be enough to refill the reservoirs, dampen expected forest fires this summer and end water restrictions. And each time the hydrologists and water managers were always quoted as saying something like “we need at least six feet of snow” to end the drought. How could we get six feet of snow in the remaining month or so of the snow season? It seemed impossible.
So I have to eat my words. And yet the effects of climate change—this unpredictable weather—is not something to cheer about. Low water on the Mississippi last winter turns into flood conditions in spring; farmers lamenting dry fields all winter now complain that it’s too muddy to plant. But closer to home, birds such as robins and blue jays died because their food source, insects, were killed in the freezing temperatures that accompanied the cold. Many of our fruit trees won’t have their expected huge blooms. At the cabin, the gophers, which I never see, only their mounds, have had to crawl out of the ground and deep snow to the surface, exposing themselves to predators. Animals and plants expect a certain schedule to nature, and when it is disrupted, sometimes they can’t adapt fast enough.
We can turn on the heat, put on an extra layer of clothing. I can even delight in this beautiful, pristine landscape, snowshoeing in unexpected snow. But the natural world is dependent on more regular seasons, and I hate to see it suffer.