GUEST COLUMN: Spring in Texas can happen overnight
Friday, 20 April 2012 by Mark Magnan
Spring has Sprung. Not very accurate when speaking of the seasons, but a play on words none the less. However, in Texas, spring often does "spring" up on us. If this is your first spring in Texas it is not that unusual for it to come up seemingly overnight.
One day the sky is gray and it just seems cool. Then the next day everything is green and flowers are blooming.
There is an old way of telling when the last freeze or frost has come. Look at the mesquite trees, once they start to bud out then it is sign that the harsh cold weather is gone. I know there are several other trees that are the harbinger for warmer weather, pecan trees and a few others. I had always heard the mesquite as the choice of the oldtimers I knew. As far as I know that sign has been accurate. And we do have our share of mesquite trees, so they are not hard to pick out.
The good thing about spring in Texas is the wildflowers. We call them wildflowers because essentially they are weeds and "wild" just makes them sound more acceptable. And it seems to be working, Texas is the destination for tourists wanting to see the amazing colors that are produced each year when the cold weather is gone. Perhaps it is a combination of wanting to escape the cold northern winter and seeing our colorful roadside display. Vermont might have their autumn colors, but Texas rings in the warm weather with a palette of colors that could only represent our great state.
Much has been done in the past to assist in the spread and continuation of the wildflowers. That effort is greatly appreciated by any viewer that has seen the fields of blue from our state flower. Or the times when you come to an unexplained halt on the interstate while driving to Austin, and you have lush colors from the wildflowers to soothe your irritation.
But as with anything so amazing comes a bit of a stumbling block. With so much blooming the air is filled with pollens and all the other things that can annoy your sinuses. Chances are if you have an allergy to something, it will be blooming in the Texas springtime.
I have always enjoyed the transformation from dull leafless trees, to the sudden bright green that completes our landscape. It seems like the trees manage to show such brilliant colors in an attempt to rival the wildflowers. But their leaves will soon provide the much needed shade for our summers.
There is one thing that we have to deal with since we have short and often mild winters, bugs. Since we don't have the harsh colds of our northern neighbors, the insect population doesn't seem to be hindered at all here. Actually a lot of bugs seem to do well in the winter months.
Somewhere I heard that there are a few billion insects for each person on Earth. Now if you average out, let's say Alaska with Texas. We are bound to have many more than our Eskimo friends in the land of the midnight sun.
The first few weeks of spring here will easily show our share of bugs. It seems like everything that was here last summer has come out from its winter hiding spot. And I am not even referring to ants, and the dreaded fireants. The first few mowings of the year will expose mounds of fireants coming to the surface for their first glimpse of warm weather. They are just stretching their ant muscles ready to reek havoc on unsuspecting Texans lounging around in flip-flops.
I am not sure what part fireants play in the grand scheme of the food chain, but I for one could really do without them. I would gladly trade my share of those pesky critters for something less annoying, perhaps slugs. If nothing else they move slower, so theoretically they should cause less problems.
So for the next several weeks enjoy our Texas spring, the colors and aroma of the wildflowers, the warmth of our early sun. Think of the blessing we have here, pleasant weather and colors while some of our northern neighbors are still dealing with cold and plain white landscapes. Even when the snow melts for them I don't think they have the annual beauty of our state.