It may be spring, but expect more ‘winters’; cold winds can’t take away heart’s warmth

Published 11:54 am Friday, March 25, 2022

People in our area, and in much of Appalachia and the South, often recognize the brief cold periods we experience in spring as Redbud Winter, Dogwood Winter, Blackberry Winter, and a few others.
Just like this week, we had some days warm enough for shirt-sleeve outdoor work such as mowing and some early gardening, but this weekend is a different story — chilly temperatures and even some mountain snow in the forecast. Old-timers call it Redbud Winter.
Our grandparents/great-grandparents had no televised weather reports, no weather apps on phone or tablet, perhaps no calendar or Farmer’s Almanac for guidance. They observed and relied on the signs of nature, and maybe it was natural to name cold snaps for what was blooming at the time.
They probably anticipated frost possibilities, so waited until the end of what they colloquially called “Dogwood Winter” when they could safely plant some vegetables and annual flowers.
Perhaps, we are in the midst of Redbud Winter as Redbud trees are in bloom all over town. They soon will fade and the Dogwoods will bloom — another winter. And, there will be more “winters” after that. How they are named may depend on where you live or what your family or grandparents called them.
And, be prepared for Blackberry Winter, which usually comes in mid-May or a bit later. These fruits, which we pick for jam or cobblers, need cold to set buds, and a cold snap when they bloom is named for them. This is when less severe polar air pushes toward us after warm air masses have begun to dominate the weather.
These cold snaps are not something that most people want to celebrate; most of us are ready for the warm breezes of springtime and prefer to forget the colder days of winter. I do agree that it is time to move on, but there is something so quaint and comforting about these cold snaps that were long ago named, can always be counted on, and yet can never be perfectly predicted.
The funniest one of all the potential cold snaps is the last one, which goes by numerous very funny names. It can happen as late as mid-May and is referred to as “Long Britches Winter” or “Linen Britches Winter” or “Linsey-Woolsey Britches Winter,” depending on where you live. All three names, though, refer to the last date on which you will feel the need to wear long, warm britches to bed. It can also be called “Stump Winter,” since it is considered the last date on which you will feel the need to put another stump on the fire.
The Farmer’s Almanac says that this last one is typically the coldest snap.
The winter winds of another cold snap or two will most definitely blow in our future, of this I am certain.
Prepare to once more break out those long, linsey-woolsey britches for a cold winter night and throw another stump on the fire one last time in the coming weeks. But when it comes to the warmth that you bring to those around you, buck up and remember that a bit of kindness goes a long way to sooth a frigid heart.
As we celebrate spring and the coming of Easter, which is only three weeks away, let us remember there is no winter bluster that is as unkind as man’s ingratitude or our sharp words and thoughts towards each other.
As our thoughts are centered on the crosses, it warms our heart to see so many in our community ready to display the cross in light of the fight to keep the Lynn Mountain crosses.
It’s a warmth that even the cold winds can’t take away.

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