Northampton Press

Thursday, July 2, 2020
PRESS PHOTO BY BUD COLE Bud Cole's wife, Bev, in the garden at their residence, relaxing with their springer spaniel, Blue. PRESS PHOTO BY BUD COLE Bud Cole's wife, Bev, in the garden at their residence, relaxing with their springer spaniel, Blue.

Bud's View: 2013 was wetter, snowier than usual

Wednesday, January 8, 2014 by BUD COLE Special to The Press in Social News

Second of Two Parts

Part One of the "Looking Back" nature journal (Focus Jan. 1 and 2) covered January through June 2013. Part Two covers the remaining months of the year.

Bev and I led a group of 16 to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands July 1 - 13. Therefore, there are no local journal entries for that time period.

The trip was fantastic. We had a 16-passenger private yacht, toured the islands for eight days, followed by tours of Ecuador. Our guides, Victor Mendia and Fernando Icaza, were excellent. The Galapagos Islands are a definite "Bucket List" topper.

We returned in time to see our bluebird babies fledge and hang out with their parents in the backyard. This was the second year in a row that bluebirds returned to nest.

We had a lull of about three years when they nested somewhere else. We were thrilled to have a bluebird pair take up residence in our yard once more.

I ran out of birdseed in late July and did not replenish my supply right away. What do you know? The gray squirrels disappeared, but so did our songbird neighbors. I took a trip to Germansville Feed Mill, stocked up, refilled the feeders and the birds returned. Squirrel Wars 2013 also resumed.

The stumps from the trees that fell on our house during SuperStorm Sandy were finally ground up and the yard was reseeded.

Hummers were actively visiting both our feeders and our nectar flowers. The suet feeders were surprisingly busy. Usually in the summer, there are enough insects available to supply the necessary protein for the birds.

The garden did very well. We planted carrots, snap peas, red beets, green beans, tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, onions, basal and zucchini. Tomatoes ripened slowly because of cool nights and occasional rains, but it was great sleeping weather. When you rely on shade trees for natural air conditioning, it's good to have cool nights for sleeping.

In most years, by August, the lawns are burned and brown from the hot weather and lack of rain. But not in 2013. The lawns were thriving and the vegetable gardens did not need watering. The rye grass planted for the worn lawn from SuperStorm Sandy repairs sprouted and was filling in the muddy areas.

The eggplants in our garden were producing enough eggplants to share with the neighbors. The leaves were falling as we headed to Oregon Aug. 29 for 10 days to visit our friends, the Wilsons.

We returned Sept. 8, just in time for me to begin collecting the leaves that dropped while we were touring Oregon. The black walnut trees were bare and the walnuts were attracting extra gray squirrels to our yard. I collected the black walnuts and put them in a pile at the back of the yard, which kept the squirrels busy for about three days and then they were back to their normal marauding behavior: raiding the birdfeeders.

And the leaves continued to fall.

A hummingbird, observed Oct. 3, was the latest sighting recorded at our hummingbird feeders. Perhaps it was migrating and stopped for a snack. That's why it is not a good idea to take your hummingbird feeders down around Labor Day. You might help a few hummers that are traveling through the area.

And the leaves continued to fall.

Leaves covered the yard when the juncos returned Nov. 2. The juncos spend their breeding season north of the Lehigh Valley in Canada and parts of northern New York and New England. Their return is a good sign that winter is not far away.

We also had pine siskins at the feeders. The last time they frequented our area we experienced a cold snowy winter. Perhaps they were the harbingers of what lies ahead this winter.

The first dusting of snow in our neck of the woods was Nov. 26, but it quickly changed to rain later in the day. Our small pond was covered by an inch of ice on Thanksgiving morning. All the trees, with the exception of the Japanese maple next to our patio, finally finished dropping its leaves.

December arrived with a cold chilling breeze as I finally finished my leaf gathering and dumped the final load at the back of the yard for composting. Phew! I logged 100-plus hours from the first to last leaf.

The early snows fell before I had time to clean and store my tractor and Cyclone Rake system.

Amazingly, the average precipitation and the actual precipitation in 2013 were only one-hundredth of an inch apart for Dec. 2. The powdery snow that fell Dec. 9 and 10 ended like the last line of Dan Fogelberg's song, "Same Old Lang Syne": "The snow turned into rain."

The rain coated the fluffy powder with about one inch of heavy crust. I'm glad I finally bought a snow blower several years ago.

The December snowfall total was 13.5 in. That is more than half of the entire snowfall total for the 2012-'13 winter. The actual precipitation for 2013 was 45.94 in. The normal is 45.17 in. So, there was only a .77 of an inch difference.

Keep your snow blowers and shovels within reach and don't listen to Punxsutawney Phil if he doesn't see his shadow.

My personal forecast is for more cold and snowy weather. But as with each year, the winter will also pass quickly. Before we know it, April showers will arrive, heralding a new birth of flora and fauna.

Be safe and I hope you're having a Happy New Year!

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