It’s been a weird fall here in Wisconsin

This fall has been ridiculously warm. You’d think we’d like this unusually warm fall up here in the land of blizzards, frozen cars, burst water pipes and children frozen to flag poles. But we don’t. Not really. We’re not used to this.

img_0828It’s October 23, and I’m still harvesting eggplant and peppers, for heaven’s sake. I mean look at that box full I picked this morning over there on the left. And there seems to be no end in sight. The eggplant and assorted pepper plants are in full bloom, loaded with baby fruit. I’m harvesting dill for the second time this year. I have a second crop of spring onions about ready to eat. I planted those at the end of September. I have chives coming out my ears. I’d be drying those but we already have far, far more chives than we know what to do with. The greek oregano is going crazy. It’s over a foot tall and in full bloom, for the second time this year. Same with the sage. Some of my hostas have put out flower stalks for the second time this season. I was looking back in the tomato bed that I cleaned out at the end of September and found a dozen or more volunteer tomato plants newly sprouted, some six inches tall already. I’m tempted to pot some of them and see if they’ll grow indoors.

According to the recording thermometer the coldest night we’ve had has been about 41. Daytime temperatures have generally been up in the high 60s to low 70s. The only way we know it’s fall is that the days are much shorter and the trees are losing their leaves.

This isn’t a horrible thing, this extended warm streak. It certainly is keeping the heating costs down. But it’s, well, odd. It doesn’t feel right. And you can tell it’s bothering people. They seem nervous, edgy, waiting for the other shoe to drop. We all have this feeling of mild dread.

I don’t know if it’s our upbringing, or some kind of inherent human trait, but we all seem to share it. We all get this feeling that something is too good. Some malicious deity or force of nature or something is deliberately lulling us into a false sense of security, and then wham, drops ten feet of snow on us, or plunges the temperature down to -30, or — or something is going to happen.

The thing is, we like winter up here. We like the snow. We like the bone chilling cold. It’s part of our heritage. It’s part of our nature.

We complain about the cold, the winter, true. But if you listen to those complaints, you begin to realize that we also take a perverse pride in it as well, pride in our ability to deal with it. And an enormous amount of delight in laughing at the people down south when an inch of snow shuts down the entire metro Atlanta area.

Our complaints about the cold and snow are part of the fun, the bragging about how cold it was, the complaints about shoveling six feet of snow off the porch before we could even get outside to get to the outhouse.

Well, okay, the outhouse thing is a bit outdated. We’ve had real indoor plumbing here in Wisconsin for, oh, two or three years now. But you know what I mean.

What’s the point in living in Wisconsin if we can’t brag about the bad weather any more? Is it really worth putting up with living here if we can’t laugh at the people in Illinois because they don’t know how to drive in the snow any more?

 

An Odd Autumn

It’s been a rather odd autumn here in north eastern Wisconsin. Usually this time of year it’s starting to get chilly, even downright cold. It hasn’t, though. Daytime temperatures have been in the low to mid seventies, at night it has only rarely fallen below 57 – 65 degrees. And it’s also been unusually wet. They’re claiming this has been the fourth wettest season on record.

It’s had an interesting effect on the plants around here. Our roses are in full blossom once again. We have new dill plants sprouting up all over the place. It looks more like May or early June than October.

Our eggplant has gotten its second wind, so to speak, and is loaded with blossoms and new fruit. Same with our poblano and jalapeno pepper plants. We have new green onions sprouting. The oregano I cut back has regrown. Some of our hostas are blooming for the second time this season. The morning glory seed we planted back in May that never sprouted sprang up out of nowhere two or three weeks ago and is now in full flower. The roses are a riot of color, with blossoms coming so heavy the branches can hardly support them.

Rain has been our constant companion for weeks and weeks now. If you don’t live in Wisconsin you may not have heard about the flooding we’ve had; two people killed, houses washed away, roads closed, something like $20 million in damages so far. Farmers should be getting ready to start harvesting corn, should be harvesting soybeans. They can’t get into the fields without the combines sinking into the ground up to the axles, and there seems to be no end in sight.

I’m sure most of us don’t mind the warm fall, but the rain…