I think the groundhog’s a liar. He said 6 more weeks of winter, but being as we really haven’t had any winter weather yet, we can’t have more of it! Europe is in the midst of extreme frigid weather while we’re stepping outside in light jackets.
The winter here in Delaware this year has been one of the mildest I’ve ever known. December was filled with many days in the 50’s and January had almost half the days above 50 degrees as well. This warm trend has made outside adventures quite pleasant, but as I hiked around the area this past month, the aberrant weather has given me pause…what’s the impact of this local warming trend besides our enjoyment of mild weather and a little spring fever?
January has been more reminiscent of early spring than our typical winter month. I was surprised to find blooming skunk cabbage (below) and snowdrops (above) in early January. We don’t normally see those until early February around here.
Purple deadnettle also blossomed in January, celandine bore a solitary bloom earlier this week, and just around the corner I found the tall, narrow leaves of daffodils reaching toward the sky. I even saw a bee on Wednesday and lawns are starting to green! The higher temperatures has forced the early presence of this wildlife, despite the normal sunlight levels for January.
These signs of spring are about a month early, and it has left me wondering what will happen if the weather shifts back to our winter “norm” with colder temperatures for another month or so. I know Mother Nature is pretty hardy and many of the plants can handle freezing temperatures if we trend back to our normal weather pattern. But I can’t help wondering how this extended warming trend might affect the local food chain.
I’ve also been wondering how the nesting owls, whoooo are accustomed to incubating their eggs in cold weather, are faring. (Sorry for the pun, couldn’t resist!) Living things are sensitive to temperature changes. We’re designed to function at peak level within a certain range, depending on our species. A long-term change will have some kind of effect. A change in the weather pattern could affect wildlife survival and their food web, which will in turn affect the food chain for humans. We’re all connected. What affects one species on this planet affects us all.
I’ll hold out hope that the warmer weather will stay with no ill effects on the local area wildlife, and that we just get to enjoy the sweet sunshine and balmy weather a bit sooner this year. But I’m also aware that our planet is changing, and I’m watching for the subtle changes that are happening on the local level.
Meanwhile, may you get the chance to soak up the gifts of the sun and mild fresh air. And I for one, am grateful that I don’t live in Europe at this moment!
Love & Light,