I know of no one who isn’t looking forward to warmer weather this year. It’s been brutal by our standards. The month of February went down as the coldest February in the books, according to the weathermen.
Charles H. Fattig recalls a winter as bad as this one. He says in 1989 the Siberian Express came chugging down and clobbered us on the first day of February. He remembers we had snow and ice throughout February and into March.
What I remember about that year was as a new resident of McCleary. We had arrived two days before Christmas 1988. My mother had recently passed away and we were staying with my dad until we could find a place to live. I planned to look for work immediately after the holidays. Dad persuaded me to take a month off and relax from what had been a tough year. I took his advice — wasn’t hard to convince me.
So, as February came, I headed out to put in job applications in Olympia. But, as Fattig said, the Siberian Express hit. Ok, I’ll take another month off work! The roads were perfectly fine after the first week, but any excuse, y’know.
Then came the first week of March. Would you believe another snow storm? It happened. Another month off work. As fate would have it, I needed surgery the end of March — got home just in time for my sister to cook a big Easter dinner for the family. Six weeks of recovery and I finally went looking for and found a job.
But, back to the weather … Fattig tells that the cold weather in ’89 kept the fruit trees from blossoming early. The later blossoms produced produce (I’ve always wanted to say that!) in abundance. Plums, cherries, apples and pears did very well all over the area. Charles described the display of fruit as “lit up like Christmas trees.” He and Pauline Curran picked five flats of pie cherries from one tree behind Hazel Roedell’s place on Summit Road.
His prediction is that 2019 will give a bumper crop of the luscious fruit as well.
“You just wait and see” he warns.
Norman Porter, 1909-1966, was the editor of the McCleary Stimulator from 1953 to 1961. The Stimulator was McCleary’s very own newspaper. In spring 1959, he wrote a story about “Washington’s wild orchid.” He said seeing these orchids start to bloom was his favorite first sign of spring. Others have their favorites, his is the Washington wild orchid. He explains that there is a difference of opinion among horticulturist as to whether this native wild orchid is a true orchid even with all the important attributes of an orchid. The graceful, erect, brilliantly colored center stamen delicately and loosely cloaked with a brilliant colored central petal of the flower and exuding a pungent and permeating odor. He confesses his wife did not share his love for this delicate beauty so he rarely brought home a bouquet. She referred to them by their more common name, “skunk cabbage.’
Emma Heslep, 1902-1974, was a school teacher and writer of poetry in McCleary for a long time. The first verse of one of her poems reads:
“Robin, robin, red breast
“Spreads the news of spring;
“Robin, robin red breast,
“Happiness you bring.”
Etta Davidson, 1882-1977, a resident in the area had many poems published, also. A sample of her writing:
“Cheer up, March is coming, what do you think she will wear?
“She will be dressed in the very best Mother Nature can spare.
“Rain drops on her fingers, snow flakes on her toes, she will have a fluffy dandelion to powder her dainty nose. …”
My husband’s grandfather was a farmer in upstate New York, among other things, and he always called the spring snow “poor man’s fertilizer.”
There is considerable truth to that expression. The nitrates that the snow gathers as it falls is slowly released into the ground as the snow melts. And the layer of snow actually keeps young plants warm when the temperature dips at night.
Me? I want the snow gone and the temperature not to dip. I love watching the new plants poke their heads out of the dirt. Whatever your favorite sight is of spring, enjoy. Spring is finally here.
Linda Thompson can be reached at mccleary.