I know, I know. You’re thinking sweet sixteen, elite eight, final four, Brittney Griner–NCAA round ball. Those big green Baylor shoes resonate with the big green outdoors right outside my office window. This year we have been living through another kind of March Madness: summer-like temperatures– for days and now, weeks on end. Students in shorts and t-shirts are out playing tennis ball golf all over campus. Outdoor running– in shorts– even shirtless– is a daily opportunity, routine, expected. There was even a day last week when I decided it was “too hot” to run on the outdoor track by the football stadium and stayed inside the KAC, mindlessly rounding the indoor track, contemplating a normal “spring.” By the way, can anybody tell me what “normal Iowa weather” looks like?
And it hasn’t just been March Madness. March 2012 didn’t “come in like a lion and go out like a lamb.” Neither did January and February. I was outside in a t-shirt trimming the raspberry canes in the College Garden on Groundhog Day. Over spring break, Paul and Mara and Shelby and I worked up a sweat digging and re-shaping raised beds. Cold weather seed starts in the VSC Greenhouse never sprouted– because it was too hot in there for them to germinate. Snowbirds and spring break collegians: you didn’t need to go south this year.
All over Iowa, in yards and gardens, daffodils and magnolias were in full bloom. In Downtown Pella, the sacred Scholte tulips were perilously tall and showing signs of budding. There is asparagus ready to pick at the College Organic Garden, and lettuces over-wintered and have come alive right there in an open bed, almost big enough to pick. Last night, sitting in my living room with the window open, I breathed in the intoxicatingly perfumed aroma of fragrant viburnum, which normally is one of my “final exam week smells.”
From our home garden, thanks to the madness of human-induced, “global weirding,” we have been eating fresh salad greens, spinich and kale that overwintered and burst back into production, already at late April to early May growth rates. March Madness means we can pick and eat a big fresh garden salad every day, instead of waiting for those first few tender leaves to develop and then just snipping a few, to mix in with the 3,000-mile California lettuce. Cooking from the garden on St. Patrick’s Day! No need for the “wearin’-of-the-green” when you can pick and eat it.
If April showers bring May flowers, then what do March temperatures in the 70s and 80s bring? I have decided to stop worrying and embrace this mad weather.
But I cannot shake a deep-seated mindfulness that all is not well; and not just: “will this be a drought summer?” I know already that the new normal will consist of more extremes, not all of them as enjoyable as these.