Icicle Season

– Posted in: Mud Season, Weather
15 comments

big icicle

February 2011 at the old house. Our last winter there, but we didn’t know that then.

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?

crooked icicle

Hanging on by a thread

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?

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

14 Comments… add one

Les March 15, 2013, 7:08 pm

There are several places nearby that only have two seasons; tourist and not.

Gail March 4, 2013, 8:25 pm

Most of the icicles we see in Middle Tennessee are hanging from the limestone ridges along the interstates! Love seeing them there instead of hanging from the gutters. We have a variety of summers, too. gail

Jenny March 4, 2013, 2:15 pm

This is the time of year when I just can’t wait for the snow to melt. We have so many projects to start and the mud is in the way. I want to start a raised bed garden and we are also building a small deck. I am eager for spring to arrive!

Donalyn March 4, 2013, 1:46 pm

I ready for winter to start letting go, but our weather forecast is not looking very promising right now.

Tanya March 4, 2013, 1:03 pm

Those icicles are huge! This weekend It was in the 80′s where I love. I loved it! I am planning on spending some time outside today.

Yvonne March 4, 2013, 10:14 am

I’m very keen for spring to come now. By the end of the week, we should have considerable melting. We moved last year and I’m looking forward to walking in my new neighborhood in spring: I’ve noticed a lot of magnolias and other spring-flowering trees that promise to be very beautiful.

Layanee March 4, 2013, 7:31 am

I am hoping we are over ‘icicle season’ here as the roof is now clear. No guarantees though. These last days of winter do seem the longest. Where are my crocus? Why didn’t I plant snowdrops in that back, south border? Current thoughts and actions for next season.

Deirdre March 4, 2013, 12:48 pm

Snowdrops are best moved “in the green”. If you can find them in pots, plant them now.

Frances March 4, 2013, 6:42 am

In the South, we have several winters, noting cold snaps mixed in with warmer temps, named by what is blooming at the time. Dogwood Winter, Blackberry Winter, etc. Cold is relative, I know, but do believe that 19 seasons could easily be identified. I love your icicle photos!
Frances

Donna@Gardens Eye View March 4, 2013, 6:04 am

I am so with you Kathy…it is time for the snow to melt and spring to creep in with warmer days….I will have to consider the seasons here….hmmmm…

Leslie March 4, 2013, 12:36 am

Gosh I was already jealous of your 4 (or 5) seasons…and now I find out there are even more! I must ponder this. We may have as many, just much more subtly defined.

Deirdre March 3, 2013, 10:44 pm

In Seattle, we have the wet season (8 months) and the dry season (4 months). That pretty much covers it.

Deirdre March 4, 2013, 1:50 am

I think we could divide the wet season into wet with the days getting shorter and wet with the days getting longer.

Charlie March 3, 2013, 9:01 pm

The last days of winter are frustrating, but the world is indeed in the last days of this season. The world is wakening and it is spreading your way. A little more patience at you will see it as well.

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