Mud Season in New England
Dublin, NH (February 2008)– Besides looking at the calendar, there are other signs that spring, officially March 20 this year, is on the way.
“The very first sign that spring is on the way are the snowdrops,” says Polly Bannister, Yankee Magazine’s senior editor, home and garden. “These hardy little flowers can push their way through a covering of snow. I see the blossoms when the sun is warming the ground and the snow is beginning to melt. The little bell-shaped blossoms are such a welcome sight, and a signal that spring isn’t far behind.”
This season, with so much snow on the ground, snowdrops may arrive later than usual. In fact, this year’s snow records may also make New England’s fifth season–mud season–one to remember.
In a sidebar to Jim Collins’s article, “The Fifth Season,” in Yankee’s March/April issue, Lee Michaelides had this to say about 2007’s mud season: “Last season, a half-mile stretch of a road in Maine snared six vehicles, a 7-year-old girl’s school shoes, and the dubious honor of being the state’s worst road.”
A more welcome sign of spring than mud is the red-winged blackbird. “Flocks begin their return from southern wintering grounds just a few weeks after Groundhog Day,” explains Yankee’s Bannister, senior editor for home and garden. “I watch for their jet-black bodies and bright red shoulder patches in fields and marshlands, knowing that spring is on its way.”
In one of Yankee’s newer columns, “Ask the Naturalist,” Sara Pratt answers the question “Is spring coming earlier to New England?” Here are a few facts about some changes that may not affect the official first day of spring but should make the signs of spring come earlier:
- New England’s average winter temperature has increased by 4.4 degrees Fahrenheit over the past 30 years.
- There are 16 fewer days with snow on the ground, compared with 30 years ago.
- Many New England plants flower 11 days earlier than they did 100 years ago.