Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Global Gardening and Gloom and Doom

My Dad had an aunt that herself was just a girl, I think about eight years old, the year the volcano Krakatoa erupted. I think that was in 1888, I'm sure you can google that for the details. The first hand account, passed to my Dad when she was ancient and my dad a young man, and second hand to me, is that it froze every month of the year that year.

It was referred to as "The Year Summer Never Came."

For gardeners everywhere, this is the scary story. It is the monster in the closet. The year 1888 was an abnormalty. Its lessons were recounted, not stories of the Dust Bowl that from my viewing of the History Channel must have been incredible to have experienced. This tells me that the Dust Bowl did not affect us here in the middle of Wisconsin and the eruption of Krakatoa did.

Here in zone 4, we have a scant 100 to 120 days frost free growing season. Somewhere in the next 100 miles north of us, you can not grow corn. The growing season is not long enough. Corn taskes takes a fullness of days we can never predict. Farmers who get it wrong are not farmers very long.

The weather is more than a topic of casual conversation. We track it in our journals. We record things like snowfalls, first and last, the return of the robins, the return of the sandhill cranes. It is with dark fore-shadowing that I look up and see the first vee of geese going south in the early days of September. A dark shadow of the long Wisconsin winter chills me right to my spine, no matter how bright and blue the day may be.

So, it is not without more than idle curiosity that I read articles about earthquakes and tsunamis changing the tilt and rotation of the earth or wonder of the effects of the Icelandic volcano that halted air traffic to parts of Europe last summer.

Gardeners connect to the earth. We connect to our local seasons and zones. The Central Sands are my native earth. Global warming does not scare me, but stories about possible sudden and dramatic climate shifts do. Changes in weather that could come in a single season and for which would be impossible to plan.

Winter has held us in thrall here much too long. Summer-- I'm waiting!

1 comment:

  1. You are so right, they cannot produce a really decent crop of corn in Price county, though it is closer than it was 30 years ago when I moved up here. Corn up here is harvested for silage. Not like the Janesville area where I grew up!
    Summer, baby, we need you!