Decoy weather–an apt term. Somehow, once October is over, it’s hard to call it Indian Summer anymore. I have noticed around here that we consistently have one day in the first week of November that is warm and sunny. I always give the kids the day off from school then and have a general clean up the yard day. Anything we don’t want to get buried under snow has to get put away, and anything we want to find once it snows, like snow shovels and sleds, gets put in a more convenient location. We usually don’t get decoy weather again until January, which around these parts is known as the January Thaw. The snow all melts but the ground doesn’t usually thaw. The kids go around in short sleeve shirts and their snowpants and boots for protection from mud. March and April are nothing but decoy weather around here. This past growing season we had summer-like weather in April, which broke many plants out of dormancy, and then hard, killing frosts in May, effectively ruining most of the traditional June-flowering plants. No lilacs, no peonies, and pretty poor showing from a lot of others. I once read this quote, but didn’t write down the source: Farming is the only socially acceptable form of gambling. I guess it applies to any horticultural enterprise. (If anyone knows who said this, please let me know!)
Now, the digging and dividing of perennials, the general autumn cleanup and the planting of spring bulbs are all an act of faith. One carries on before the altar of delayed gratification, until the ground freezes and you can’t do any more other than refill the bird feeder and gaze through the window, waiting for the snow. . . . Meanwhile, it helps to think of yourself as a pear tree or a tulip. You will blossom spectacularly in the spring, but only after the required period of chilling.
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