It’s tough for a freeze to catch a pecan with its bud out. Pecans are breaking bud hard now in the South, and I hope as they rouse from slumber, the trees are messengers of more peaceful weather.
Traveling south Georgia during the last week of March from the Alabama line then east to the coast, you could see the tips of the spindly branches appear to sharpen as the first of the small arrow-tip buds materialized followed by brethren spreading down the limbs. Spade-shaped leaves now push forth becoming small green crowns as the trees put on their spring dresses for the year.
Pecan trees, typically the last trees to awaken in spring, cut it close by about two weeks. A few less-patient pecans got tapped by a late-spring freeze in mid-March, which, up until that time, was the latest thrilling episode of this year’s chaotically dramatic weather.
As winter and spring fight to dominate the landscape, Deep South weather is always volatile this time of year. We know this and expect it. But the weather since the first of the year (for the entire past year) has been violently skittish, like a stray cat caught between a snotty little boy wielding a roman candle and a determined little girl squirting a water hose.
Last year, rain didn’t fall in some location for the entire spring and summer. Coupled with angry heat, it was a drought to mark the years henceforth. Then, late-summer and fall storms caused major flooding along our eastern coast, washing harvest away for the second straight year for some.
Then January hit, starting the year with vicious storms and deadly tornadoes, and cleanup and recovery continue three months later. A mild and at times danged-hot winter persisted.
Then, it froze, devastating blueberry, peach, wheat, strawberry and some spring-planted vegetables in many locations in March.
As I write this March 29, it is 90 degrees and the four-inch soil temperature is 84 degrees at my south Georgia home. And as my sweaty boy comes in from playing outside, I know the pecans are not heralding an end to extreme weather; their just providing a comma, punctuating a brief transition, before the story continues. We will have more storms, and the heat and humidity of our notorious summer will swallow the land and all things living on it.
We’ll rejoice about some favored weather and complain about the rest of it. It’s our right and heritage. But for those of us born to this place and who proudly choose to abide where the weather is as dogged as the people are varied, we like to imagine living someplace else but we remain, and things bud and fade to their own rhythm.
Good luck. Take care. And thanks for reading.