Friday, March 13, 2009

A Spring Post

It’s hard to believe I’m anxiously awaiting spring given how mild the winter was here. Last year, emerging from the long dreary darkness of a London winter, that spring was something to anxiously await. Here in Northern California, winter is like a brief slightly colder period with occasional rain - we freak out when it gets below 50°F and start worrying about our precious lemon trees.

The London Eye in the London grey

We're weather wusses around here, I'll freely admit that. This is partly why the weather in London was so difficult for us to deal with. Our time in London can be summed up based almost entirely on the weather, as follows:
  • Warm sunny [Hey, this isn't too bad!]
  • Not Quite Winter [This is manageable. I don't know why people complain about London weather so much. Buncha whiners.]
  • Winter [Okay, it's pretty cold now.]
  • Winter [And dark. I had no idea how early it would get dark here. Why does the rain seem to never stop and come in horizontally?]
  • Winter [What happened to "storm systems"? You know, storm comes in, storm blows through. This is just a constant grey morass with spitting rain - I don't remember signing up for this.]
  • Not Quite Winter [Light is starting to return, thank god. Oooh, crocuses - things are looking up!]
  • 1 Hot Day [Hey, Spring came early! This is awesome!]
  • Snowing [Oh hell.]
  • Not Quite Winter [I'm starting to see a pattern here.]
  • Kind of Spring-like [Hey, this is almost nice but not quite]
  • 1 Hot Day [Now this is what I'm talking about.]
  • Not Quite Winter [Back to this again are we?]
A Welsh colleague of mine recently told me just how proud they are of the weather in the British isles - after all, for how far north they are, the weather is amazingly mild. I'll agree with that - London's weather is a far cry better than that found at the same latitude in Canada or Russia. But the "it could be a whole lot worse" standpoint (otherwise known as "British optimism") doesn't sit well with me in general - it's like saying you love to watch The Rock only because it's better than watching Pearl Harbor.

Despite being only a slight change from winter, spring is really something to look forward to in Calfornia, especially if you're a nature lover (a.k.a. plant dork) like me. In the summer, the hills in California get parched and golden as the grasses dry up in the Mediterranean-style rainless summers. During spring, the hills are still lush and green from the rains, a stark contrast to what they look like for much of the year.

Hound's Tongue, and early bloomer

Douglas's Iris, Mt. Tamalpais

During the early spring, the desert is arguably the most spectacular place to be in California, with nearly all of the desert plants blooming at roughly the same time to take advantage of the cooler temperatures before the intense summer heat commences.

Henderson Canyon, Anza-Borrego Desert

Desert Palafox (Palafoxia arida)

Brown-eyed Primrose (Camissonia claviformis)

Ferrocactus getting ready to bloom

Purple Mat (Nama demissum)

In fact, we're heading off to the desert this weekend - although the plant I'll be looking at more than any other is evenly mowed lawn grass at Cactus League baseball spring training games in Arizona, we're going to the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, a place I've always wanted to visit. This is our first trip to spring training, and honestly we're only minor baseball fans as things go, but after winter and a baseball-less year abroad, sitting in the sun with a root beer and a hotdog watching some baseball sounds pretty perfect right now.

1 comment:

An American in London said...

Very true - in fact, right now, we're having a four-day-run of sunshine and thinking "spring is finally here"! Of course, we all know where that sort of complacency leads . . . to more rain.

Have fun on your desert getaway. I'll look forward to more scientific identification of the plantlife there.