Spring has Sprung?
You probably thought the first day of spring was traditionally yesterday, the 21st, right? Well, we were at the vernal equinox on Monday, March 20. On this day, or one quite close to it, there are equal hours of light and dark (hence the name equinox, from the Latin word for equal). This is due to the fact that the Earth is tipped on its axis and the Earth rotates around on its axis throughout the year. Today, it is equidistant between pointing at or away from the sun. (This happens again in the fall, or autumnal equinox). The vernal equinox is considered the first day of spring.
After the crazy recent weather, it is challenging to determine which season we are in. Signs of spring are already present. Sap has started to run in maple trees. All it takes is a few days above freezing to start the process. The warm spell followed by our cold spell is not good for the harvest (it becomes bitter once buds break open). It takes about 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.
Other signs of spring are evident. Look at the southern side of most dwellings or buildings. If they have spring flowers like tulips and daffodils planted near them, you will note that they are already busy bursting out of the ground. It seems so futile considering how cold it still will become, but they are hardy fellows, able to survive thanks to an adaptive change in their lipids and proteins.
There are plants that are flowering now. Yes, I said flowering. Yes, I do mean outside. Yes, I do mean in Western New York. Certain varieties of witch hazel are blooming now. Silver maples are nearly ready to bloom if they haven’t already, and pussy willows are starting to show their stuff (get ready for Dyngus Day).
The recent warm weather did not seem to awaken many of our trees, however, which is a good thing. Early bud break can mean damage to them if it becomes cold afterward, which could lead to the loss of a fruit crop.
So get out and embrace all that is Western New York, including the vagaries of the weather. Soon we will celebrate Earth Day on campus, Wednesday, April 19, in the lower level Gallagher Center, so mark your calendars to join us for this informative event.