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Does Anyone Else Have Spring Fever?


picture of thermometer

Much to the chagrin of the global warming prophets of doom, 2008 was the coldest year since the beginning of the decade. This winter has been downright harsh and cold, not just here in the USA, but also in many other countries. We had several unseasonably warm days last week with record-breaking temperatures, which did nothing but fuel my spring fever. This week, though, we're back to normal temps for this time of year. Brrr!

In my second semester French classes right now we're doing a unit on weather. Part of that involves the students' becoming more familiar with Celsius temperature readings. Here's something that will help them and others understand relative temperatures. Although it lampoons dwellers of various parts of the country, it seems to be particularly hard on Wisconsinites.

(degrees Fahrenheit / Celsius)

+50 / +10
* New York tenants turn on the heat
* Wisconsinites plant gardens
* Airmass too stable for supercells

+40 / +4
* Californians shiver uncontrollably
* Ohioans sunbathe

+35 / +2
* Italian cars don't start

+32 / 0
* Distilled water freezes

+30 / -1
* You can see your breath
* You plan a vacation in Florida
* Politicians begin to say they're worried again about the homeless
* Wisconsinites eat ice cream

+25 / -4
* Boston water freezes
* Californians weep pitiably
* The cat insists on sleeping on your bed with you

+20 / -7
* Cleveland water freezes
* San Franciscans start thinking favorably of LA
* Green Bay Packers fans put on T-shirts

+15 / -10
* You plan a vacation in Acapulco
* The cat insists on sleeping under the covers with you
* Canadians go swimming

+10 / -12
* Politicians begin to talk about the homeless
* Too cold to snow
* You need jumper cables to get the car going

0 / -18
* New York landlords turn on the heat
* Sheboygan residents grill bratwursts on the patio

-5 / -21
* You can hear your breath
* You plan a vacation in Hawaii

-10 / -23
* American cars don't start
* Too cold to skate

-15 / -26
* You can cut your breath and use it to build an igloo
* Miamians cease to exist
* People in St. Paul lick flagpoles

-20 / -29
* The cat insists on sleeping in your pajamas with you
* Politicians actually do something about the homeless
* People in Buffalo think about taking down screens
* Every other storm chaser thinks air is too stable for supercells

-25 / -32
* Too cold to kiss
* You need jumper cables to get the driver going
* Japanese cars don't start
* Milwaukee Brewers head for spring training

-30 / -34
* You plan a two-week hot bath
* People in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan shovel snow off roof

-38 / -39
* Mercury freezes
* Too cold to think
* Minnesotans button top button

-40 / -40
* Californians disappear
* Now the car insists on sleeping in your bed with you
* Wisconsinites put on sweaters

-50 / -46
* Congressional hot air freezes
* Alaskans close the bathroom window
* Green Bay Packers practice indoors

-60 / -51
* Walruses abandon Aleutians
* Sign on Mount St. Helens: "Closed for the Season"
* North Dakotans put gloves away, take out mittens
* Boy Scouts in Eau Claire start Klondike Derby

-70 / -57
* Glaciers in Central Park
* Hudson residents replace diving boards with hockey nets
* Green Bay snowmobilers organize trans-lake race to Sault Ste. Marie

-80 / -62
* Polar bears abandon Baffin Island
* Girl Scouts in Eau Claire start Klondike Derby

-90 / -68
* Edge of Antarctica reaches Rio de Janeiro
* Lawyers chase ambulances for no more than 10 miles
* Minnesotans migrate to Wisconsin thinking it MUST be warmer

-100 / -73
* Santa Claus abandons North Pole
* North Dakotans pull down earflaps

-173 / -114
* Ethyl alcohol freezes

-297 / -183
* Oxygen precipitates out of atmosphere
* Microbial life survives only on dairy products

-445 / -265
* Superconductivity

-452 / -269
* Helium becomes a liquid

-456 / -271
* Texas drivers drop below 85 MPH on I-35

-458 / -272
* Incumbent politicians renounce campaign contributions

-460 / -273 (Absolute Zero)
* All atomic motion ceases
* Wisconsinites admit it's getting a mite nippy

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In a fit of spring feverishness last week, I decided to begin my project of doubling the size of our garden beside the house. Because of the economy, we would like to raise more vegetables than usual – hopefully with enough to can and/or freeze.

Here's a picture of the project at the halfway point:

picture of garden widening

Here's a picture after I'd removed all the sod and moved all the border stones:

picture of garden widening

I was able to lift the sod in small squares with my spading fork and move them to a spot in the backyard that was a barren low spot. It was not only great aerobic exercise for me, but it also elevated recycling to an art form. Here's a picture of the sod in place:

picture of sod

This Saturday I plan to till in the topsoil and compost I bought this week. Then I'll cover the garden with a nice layer of mulched up oak leaves. I'll put out pictures of that process next week.

I was pleased that my last blog post drew a comment from Mike the Taxidermist. I e-mailed Kyle the coyote from a link on Mike's website. Here's a link to his comment.

Do any of the rest of you have spring fever? How is it manifesting itself in your life?

quotation...
"Continuity in everything is unpleasant. Cold is agreeable, that we may get warm." - Blaise Pascal

=^..^= =^..^=
Rob

If it's zero degrees outside today and it's supposed to be twice as cold tomorrow, how cold is it going to be?


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18 Comments on “Does Anyone Else Have Spring Fever?”

  1. #1 Zina
    on Feb 20th, 2009 at 2:48 am

    It has been very cold here in Germany too this year. For about 3 weeks in Dec and Jan. it was -12/-16 Celsius. During this time a friend tried to dig holes for fenceposts…didn’t really work of course. He has a new dog and it was getting out all the time. Now the dog is in the basement while he is at work all day.
    We are thinking of a garden too for this year but we will have to wait a little longer to start it…lol
    Enjoy your blog!
    In Him, Zina

  2. #2 Rob
    on Feb 20th, 2009 at 7:19 am

    @Zina – Thanks for your comment. I had heard that Europe was having a very cold winter this year. I hope you can put out a garden this year. Fresh produce from the garden tastes so good! Do many Germans garden? I know that many French people do – that’s probably where I get my propensity. My relatives in France all have gardens, as did my French grandma after coming to the US, and my dad after her, and now me.

    Greetings to Michael and the kids. We miss you!

  3. #3 Vikki
    on Feb 20th, 2009 at 8:54 am

    Hey, I grew up in Wisconsin!!!

    Actually, it’s not quite that bad – we do consider putting on our winter coats, unbuttoned, when it gets to -80, but only to warm up after a nice, relaxing swim in the lake.

    We lived in Appleton, just south of Green Bay. When I was in high school I remember walking almost a mile to school every day, even with temps near -30 PLUS a wind chill added in (no boots, they were uncool). They didn’t close school for anything, even a couple feet of snow. Since that time they’ve changed the rules and the will close school if there’s 18 inches or more, but not for cold or ice.

    Once, after a long cold spell around -20, we spent all afternoon sledding at -4 and were perfectly comfortable. One adjusts to that kind of cold if you walk to school every day in it.

    I’m always greatly amused at locations where and inch or two of snow will close everything down. In Wisconsin, we don’t even bring out the plows until the snows are over two inches.

    Also, one has to remember that the Packers play football in an open field. None of the cushy, covered dome fields for them. Sub-zero temps don’t stop the fans from going to the games either. Every game is a sell out and the stands are full. Kinda feel sorry for Miami or Dallas when they have to play in Green Bay in the winter. The Packers are in short sleeves and the other team in all bundled up and turning red and white!

  4. #4 Kathy Sorensen
    on Feb 20th, 2009 at 9:02 am

    Well, the part about Wisconsin in this post is certainly spot on! It’s 9 degrees F. above zero this AM and we are expecting several inches of snow tomorrow, so I have to get to the market today for fresh produce for Sunday’s dinner. Are those tulips or daffodils I see in one of your photos? They wouldn’t DARE make an appearance here for another few weeks!

    FWIW: I spent some time in Germany when my daughter’s hubby was stationed there. EVERY German gardens! If they live in a city with no yard space, there are community gardens. Gardeners even put up little garden houses in the community gardens and probably owned them for years and years. My daughter’s townhouse was in the city of Kitzengen, Bavaria and right across the street (in town!) was a plot about the size of 1 of our small city lots here in the USA and the guy was growing wheat. Every inch is used for growing something: flowers, vegetables, etc. Edith had a small back yard and did a lot of container gardening. Her next door neighbor, a German family, grew the most astonishing roses and dahlias I’d ever seen. That man terraced his backyard to get the most from the sunshine.

    Hmmm … could those tiny yards be the reason Edith and her family bought a five acre farm in Kansas when they were re-deployed to the USA?!!!!

  5. #5 Donna
    on Feb 20th, 2009 at 10:26 am

    My mom had a student once who was confused by a test question, “Which is the closest to room temperature in Celsius.?”The correct answer was 20 degrees. She wanted to know if it was really that cold in countries that use the metric system!

  6. #6 Joe
    on Feb 20th, 2009 at 11:58 am

    I spent a year up in Wisconsin, and I agree with you 100%. It is a different kind of cold up there! If your hair is wet when you leave the house, beware…it will probably freeze. Funny post!

  7. #7 Rob
    on Feb 20th, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    @Vikki – Your tales of growing up in the Wisconsin tundra are similar to mine from the Ohio tundra. It really seemed to take a lot for our schools to close, though less than what you described. It seems that many people from Wisconsin and Minnesota live to ripe old ages – freeze drying?

    @Kathy – Those are daffodils in the bed in that picture. We have other daffodils that are in full bloom already. Our crocuses are done already, and we have hyacinths blooming. Ahhhhh … I love this kind of winter! Ohio is a great place to be from!

    What you described is true of many of my relatives in France. Some had a part of a community garden, complete with a little shed for storing their tools. My uncle took me to theirs on my first visit to Calais (my paternal grandmother’s hometown.) He has teased me for years that I ate some of the baby potatoes he dug up – without washing them! I’m not sure which of those two things he found the most amusing.

    @Donna – That’s so funny! I remember our son Mark’s first time in France – age 7 at the time. He weighed himself on the bathroom scales of the first French family we stayed with and was very concerned at how much weight he had lost on our flight – he weighed less than half what he did in the USA. After I explained to him that the scales were in kilograms, he wanted to know what he weighed in “real life.”

    @Joe – Now I remember thawing out my hair sometimes growing up in Ohio and living as an adult in Detroit. Thanks for reminding me of something I’d forgotten about! 😀

  8. #8 Vikki
    on Feb 20th, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    Spring fever? You betcha!! I can’t wait to see the bedding plants show up in the stores. Once Christmas is over, I’m ready for spring to start. I can’t wait to get flowers in my planters and yard. I even have a few things on order and can’t wait for them to come in.

    When we first moved to SC from WI it was fall. I sat looking at the yard all winter waiting to get into the garden to see what we had and to start cleaning things up and digging up a new flower bed. It wasn’t until late March or early April before it dawned on me that the ground never freezes here; therefore, I could have been slowly working the yard all winter long. Back in WI all you can do is sit and wait until spring because the ground is frozen rock hard. My next door neighbor moved in the day before we did from Canada and she did the same thing – sit and wait until spring to do any yard work. We both had a good laugh about it.

  9. #9 Rob
    on Feb 20th, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    @Vikki – We moved here from MI in mid-June, and I mistakenly thought I could still put out a garden then, as I could up north. Everything totally burned up! Now I totally avail myself of our ability to work the dirt all year. I love it! I’m so used to gardening here that I would have to relearn the process if the Lord ever moved us back up north.

  10. #10 Carrie
    on Feb 20th, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    Those are so hilarious!!

    Alaskan speaking… Our American-made van and our Japanese-made car have started at -20 with no problem. Of course, the time it was -26 and the gas was below 1/2 tank was another story.

    It is funny how we get acclimated though. It was 20 the other day so the kids and I took a walk — it felt so great!

  11. #11 John Steel
    on Feb 20th, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    Rob, we spent three years in Antigua and when the temperature dropped in December the residents put on sweaters. My wife commented the first year that she would never put on a sweater at those temperatures, guess who put on a sweater the next year! Here in Carriacou the ladies in her Bible study have asked her to close the sliding door in our living room because it was too cold…The temperature was 78 degrees. We have been here about 10 months and our recording thermometer has recorded a high of 98 and a low of 75 degrees. On the other hand, I remember seeing friends from Minnesota walking on the BJU campus in short sleeve shirts when the temperature was in the 20’s. It is all what you are accustomed to!

  12. #12 Rob
    on Feb 20th, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    @Carrie and @John – You’re both so right! The two summers that we have taught on the tropical island of Hainan, China, we were able to endure the heat and humidity, not thinking we were truly acclimating to it during that month of July each year. Yet both times we came back home, we could not stand air conditioning for a few days – we felt as if we were absolutely freezing! It’s all a matter of what your body gets used to.

  13. #13 Rela Biagiotti
    on Feb 21st, 2009 at 10:49 am

    Am looking forward to seeing this project complete with beautiful plants growing!

  14. #14 Roy Hooper
    on Feb 21st, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    Hey Rob: I also have experienced spring fever, composting, tilling, planting…even have radishes, spinach, cilantro, and peas poking through. Unfortunately progress has ground (no pun intended) to a complete stop due to an attack of mold from the compost pile. This has left me with severe sinus and head congestion. At this time of the year I MUST graduate from use of a pollen mask to a respirator when working the soil. Can’t wait for mold season to dissipate and pollen season to arrive……bring on the pollen, that I can handle!!
    Roy

    PS Your project looks awesome…need another lemon balm?

  15. #15 Heather
    on Feb 21st, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    I’m originally a Texan, so I don’t bat an eye at 100+ degree temperatures. I am, however, contemplating a move to Michigan. Just yesterday I was worrying about moving to the land of perpetual snow and ice to my roommie, having completely forgotten that she’s Canadian! 😀

  16. #16 Rob
    on Feb 22nd, 2009 at 6:53 am

    @Rela – I hope it grows beautiful plants too! I spent a long time working on it yesterday…. More on that in Monday evening’s post.

    @Roy – Sorry to hear about your allergy woes with your gardening. I took an allergy pill before going out to work on mine yesterday, one later in the day, and my usual one at bedtime. I didn’t seem to suffer any ill effects from all my digging, etc. That’s great that you have stuff up already. I had hoped to get some peas in the ground yesterday, but ran out of time. One day this next week I’ll get some planted. Thanks for the offer of lemon balm. I think we’re good for now.

    @Heather – You will definitely experience more snow up in Michigan than you do in Texas. Our last year up there, on May 3rd I was returning from a senior class trip to Disney World and the Wilds. All of us came back with visible signs of our having been in the sun had to wait one extra day to show it off since we had a big snow come through and school was called off – on May 3rd, mind you! And I remember getting our first snow in October. But realize too that in the summer it can get way up into the 90’s and feel like 100+ because of the high humidity. Michigan’s got it all! Go for it!

  17. #17 Laura
    on Feb 24th, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    Our peas are already about 18″ tall, but we live “way down south” in Simpsonville. If you soak the seed for a couple hours in warm water before you plant, it will pop up faster. I got a great book from the library that you might want to read when you’ve got time . . . The 12 Month Gardener. The author lives in Asheville, but had previously lived further north. He’s got friends as far north as Maine who garden year round with protection. We tried some of his ideas this winter and didn’t lose our jalapeno pepper plants until the night it got down to 7 degrees F. It has been fun to see what we could keep going all winter long. Another great library read is a book called Incredible Vegetables from Self-Watering Containers. Happy gardening!!!

  18. #18 Rob
    on Feb 25th, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    @Laura – Wow! I’m envious of your 18″ high peas. I couldn’t do things any earlier this year since I had to complete garden modifications and amendments. I’ll definitely have to check out those books. Thanks for the heads-up on them.