Icicle season is here at Purdyville, although, truthfully, all the icicles have already crashed to the ground. Icicle season, as described by the Nature Calendar, is characterized by alternate freezing and thawing. That is what has been happening here. Every morning, the roads are ice- or snow-covered and slick. By afternoon, they are merely wet. “More winter birds try out spring calls.” Check. “First maple taps appear.” Check. Yep, it’s icicle season all right, even though there’s no icicles.
How Many Seasons Are There, Really?It seems to me that the designation of four seasons is a cultural construct inherited from our British forebears and perhaps more accurately describes their climate than that of short-season, cold climate North America. Yes, we all have two solstices and two equinoxes, but what is happening in the natural world in these two climates is quite different. I have long maintained that we have a fifth season, Mud Season. The Nature Calendar, developed by Janice Goldfrank, is divided into nineteen seasons. Nineteen. Is that splitting hairs? Well, she lists different events going on in the natural world in each of those seasons, and if you want to know when to listen for saw whet owl calls (mud season) or when fox cubs are born (daffodil season), you will want a calendar that’s this specific. Actually, I think if you have been observing your environment for several years for work or play, whether you are a gardener, a farmer, or a hunter, you will already have a sense of these seasons. You just might not have a name for them.
It surprises me how one freakishly mild winter has spoiled me for the real thing. No wonder people move to warmer climates, even if they are so blazing hot in the summer. I confess I did miss the snow last year. After all, it has a purpose. It brightens up the dreariest days by reflecting what little light there is, and it soaks the ground thoroughly as it melts, providing the moisture needed for spring’s rapid growth. But I did not regret the early arrival of spring. I was delighted to have snowdrops in early February.
I am ready for icicle season to be over. I want to see the snowdrops currently covered by snow. I want to know how badly the crocuses I planted last fall were pillaged by rodents. I want to see the thermometer nudge past 50F. C’mon, what’s taking you so long?
More About Mud Season
Here are some highlights from previous years:
Mud Season: A Primer for Newcomers and Southerners
Mud Season Chores: Pruning
Mud Season Chores: Cleaning Up
Mud Season: Cleanup Quandaries
Making Maple Syrup: Mud Season Harvest
Hellebore Clean-Up: Mud Season
Are you still stuck in icicle season, too?