Saturday, February 02, 2008

There's no such thing as "normal" weather here...

More than 20 years ago, shortly after moving here to my grandfather's house, I heard from a local orchard owner, in a gardening class "More years than not, we have spring here in January & February, and winter in March and April." And more years than not, in the years since, that has been true. This year is the exception that points up the truth of the rule.

It is snowing. Again. Twice last week I walked home from work (early) at night in the snow because the buses had stopped running. Others who depended on cars had had to leave lots earlier, or not get home, because it required chains to go downhill from here (2500ft). This is my only day off this weekend. It was not supposed to snow today, just rain. It is supposed to snow tomorrow.

That's the other rule I learned during my years of working outdoors here: "If they say it will snow at this elevation, usually it won't. If they say it won't, often it will." That's been true both ways several times in the last 2 weeks.

But the "no such thing as normal weather" you ask? Well, you might think of "average" weather as normal. But here, average is made up of an El Niño year, and a La Niña year, and several drought years. There is no year in which we have weather equal to the average of all those.

In a drought year, we have lots of beautiful days in January & February, gardening weather. (We can't dig in our red clay soil when it's too wet, unless we want red clay bricks.) This year, we did have a couple of chilly sunny weeks before the snow started.

The year I moved here, it was too wet to garden every day off I had from mid-February though May (El Niño). The year my sister died in March, after I got back here, all of April was cold, snowy, hailing, not just the first few weeks. The apple trees didn't bloom until May, a month late.

No such thing as normal weather. But I miss my favorite days of the year, gardening weather in January & February.

This picture has been Photoshopped, but only to bring out what the eye can see that the camera doesn't; the brilliance of the Geranium blooming on the windowsill against the snow outside; the texture of the screen, pixellating the image; and the color of the trees in the snowy landscape.

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At 2/10/2008 1:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice pic!

Not exactly Pullman weather...


At 3/21/2008 1:48 PM, Blogger MinaW said...


No, not the weather of Pullman, Wash., where I grew up. Although there we had an occasional lovely warm dry wind in the winter, called a Chinook, which would take away all the snow overnight, instead of our having to wade through slush for a week.


At 3/27/2008 1:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Though the Pullman chinooks were never so startling and dramatic as the Calgary chinooks, in my experience. Still, anything that made the hills less treacherous to travel in winter was a Good Thing.


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