Jun 14, 2015

Three months of April

The bird sherry has been blossoming for two weeks. The lilacs are yet to come and I can’t even see the buds on my grandfather’s apple tree. It’s mid June and the nature is still doubting summer.

Midsummer 2001 we were visited by very special guests from Seattle: Matt, Elizabeth, Olivia and Rebecka. There are pictures of us sitting under the white apple tree, covered in flowers. Most every year since then I have been amazed at that picture, could it really be that the apple tree was blooming that late? But it was. And historically I would say Midsummers has been the time for apple blossom here at the 64° latitude.

But times have changed, summer normally starts earlier nowadays and the blossoming period is painfully brief. The characteristic scent from the bird cherry is usually only a few days before the tree starts snowing. That is, if pre summer is not interrupted by cold winds coming in.

Anyway, these last two years have been strange. Winter 2014 and 2015 arrived very late, at the end of January. They were mild and didn’t produce a lot of snow. We have an official measurement in Sweden telling us when spring arrives. That’s when the average temperature stays over freezing point for seven days in a row. This year it happened February 15 in Umeå, 1,5 month earlier than normal. 2014 was even a bit earlier. To clarify, spring just above freezing point isn’t of course like a Seattle spring or even a Stockholm spring. Spring above freezing point is what we call spring-winter, so still snow, but a sense that winter is loosing it’s grip.

Now, one would think that spring arriving 1,5 months earlier than normal would be followed by an early spring-summer and summer. That the birches would go green at the latest May 1st instead of the normal May 23. Nope. Not at all.

These last two years March has felt like April. April has felt like April. And May has felt like April. Three months of April. Temperatures pretty much equal. Lots of rain. In fact, May 2015 was the wettest and coldest May in Sweden since pretty much forever. I hate it, the much longed for light returns but since it’s always cloudy and cold it feels morel like fall than spring.

Now we’re at mid June and it feels like mid May. The greenery is extremely slow. The midsummer flowers, those we need for the may pole at Midsummer Eve usually are nowadays withered at Midsummers, which is a problem. Not this year though. They haven’t started blossoming yet, and we are five days from Midsummer Eve! Midsummer 2014 was the coldest and wettest in history (below freezing point during night…) but at least the flowers were out doing their job. Not this year!

So, now I only have one wish. That 2015 continues as 2014. Because after a record cold June the heat swept up here all the way from Africa and kept us hot and sweaty for two months! Pretty much like a normal summer in Seattle, starting at 4th of July. Even with (nowadays) Seattle temperatures which I know Seattleites think is too much, and a lot of Swedes did too.

As for the mild winters, 2012 and 2013 were dreadfully cold with tons of snow. Of course the climate is changing but I’m sure there still will be cold winters and typical Swedish summers with highs at 68°F (20°C). 

The moskitos showed up today which is a good but annoying sign, it’s finally “warm” enough (59°F…) for bloodworms to become the summer pain in the ass. The lilacs just have to open any day now followed by the lupins. But the buds on my grandfather's  apple tree which I can’t even see…? Well looking at it from the bright side, the best is yet to come.

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