May 13, 2018

From down coat to bikini in one day: spring on the 64th latitude

Umeå and Seattle are on pretty much the same temperature for a stretch, which is really unusual for not even mid-May, looking from the Umeå horizon. I am not complaining though!

After the longest, coldest and most snowy winter in many years, it looks like the meteorological summer (the average temperature 10°C/50°F for five consequential days)  will arrive much earlier than normal. It’s always such a mystery how those things work.

Try to imagine this picture: at the edge of the grove there is still snow left from the HUGE pile that’s been added on during the winter from plowing the road leading up to my place at the end of it. In the same time I just got a hasty and fun visit from the three little girls visiting my next door neighbour, their grandpa. They were in swimming suits as they had been in the plastic pool.

That’s how weird and magic it can be at the change of seasons here at the 64th latitude. This Monday I was putting away most of my winter coats, but I left two of the more springily down ones because I would probably need them. Yesterday I was in my sun chair in a bikini. And I didn’t even have a sweater beside in case - that’s usually how we are working on the tan even in July. No, 22°C (exactly as Seattle!), blue sky without a cloud and perfectly still! That’s what I call a summer hallelujah moment.

Last year I spent most of the summer on the lengthy and difficult project planting three cherry trees. When they were finally in the ground I (read people helping me) had to water them every day until the frost came. That’s for them having a chance to develop those fine roots they need to pick the water up.

During the winter the stems have been covered with a meter of snow (3,30 feet). I have been wondering how they were doing inunder the snowpack. My joy was great when I two weeks ago could notice leaf buds on all of them. They had survived! My darlings are alive!

I have been told to water them two more summers. Sigh. But I’ve invested so much in those trees so that’s what I’m gonna do. As the temperatures are soaring I started yesterday. My God they were thirsty! How come, the snow is barely gone?!

The answer is the ground frost. Or the lack of it. You would think a meter of snow pack would leave the ground filled with water as it all melts down. But thanks to when and how it has been snowing for six months (!) it turns out there hardly has been any ground frost at all here at my place at the end of the road. Therefore the meltwater from the snow has been running right down deep into the ground leaving nothing for my cherry trees to drink. Amazing!

The birch next to the snow pile is quietly changing her dress into a green one. The girls next door are laughing in the much awaited warm afternoon. The blackbird is singing his adorable stories in the evening sun. My balcony door is open letting cool air in now. The deers are grazing from the first green grass on my fields. I want to put the time on pause. This is where I want to be.

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