Weird weather wreaks havoc

Published 1:23 am Wednesday, January 7, 2009

This weather is confusing my plants and my psyche. It is January and, because of the unusually mild temperatures, growing things think spring is here. And I’ll admit I feel a stirring of spring fever myself.

Yesterday, I walked around my yard enjoying the unseasonable warmth and I noticed things coming back to life that shouldn’t be reviving this soon. Daylilies are pushing their heads up through the mulch in my flowerbeds.

Buds are popping out all over some of my flowering shrubs, and in spots the grass is as green as it is in early April. Lizards, much to the delight of my cat, are out of hiding and race around the deck or sit contentedly in a spot of late afternoon sun. I even heard the buzz of a mosquito as I swept the carport.

As I watched a glorious sunset sink into the lake, I enjoyed being able to sit outside in short sleeves on a day when I should be bundled up in layers of clothes. I wondered if we are experiencing what they call the “January thaw.” So I did a search to learn more about that phenomenon.

I found this definition: “A January thaw is created when a cold front moves across the region, carrying a pocket of warm air behind it. This pocket of air usually lasts two to three days in January that warms the area approximately five degrees. It occurs annually and generally is not recognized as abnormal.”

Since a warm pocket of air has been around for more than two or three days, I’m not sure this definition fits our weather. When I looked at my outdoor thermometer, it read about 75 degrees, far more than the five degrees warmer that is usual in January.

We are probably enjoying mild temperatures thanks to breezes off the Gulf of Mexico, instead of warm air trapped in a cold front. Whatever the cause, it is a nice break in the midst of winter, and it starts me thinking about spring.

I daydream about planting seeds for summer flowers. I think about what plants I’ll add to beds and which ones I will move to new homes. In my head, I make grand plans for growing vegetables.

But even as I imagine the blossoms of the next season, I know my dreams of spring are premature. The forecaster predicts a cold front’s arrival and today is probably the last day I can walk around on my deck with bare feet.

By tomorrow night, winter returns, reminding me that there are still days to enjoy the warmth of a wood fire and the comfort of a cup of hot chocolate. I’ll pull out the sweatpants and sweaters and put the blanket on the foot of the bed ready for me to grab in the middle of a cold night.

The Bible says there is a time for everything and it isn’t quite time for the world to wake up from its winter sleep. I’m sure my confused plants will settle back into more weeks of peaceful napping. I’ll say farewell to balmy afternoons and welcome the comfort of my cozy chair and my fluffy throw. The plans for planting and the visions of blooms go back into storage in my head ready for recall when warm days return for good.

Still, I think there are a few hours left in this January thaw before the cold wind blows again, just enough time to enjoy some last barefoot minutes outside with my lizard chasing cat.