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A Taylor’d Approach for May 11, 2022

Fool’s Spring returns

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As I sit here writing this, there’s a bit of dirt still under my fingernails. The spring bug has bit me, and I decided it was time to start my planting for this year. 

With my luck, it’ll be snowing as you read this. 

To be honest, the spring bug has been under my skin for months now, but I’ve forced myself to hold back from launching into my favorite new season activities. It’s that wonderful time of year where even people born and raised in Montana wonder if spring is finally rolling in, or if it’s yet another fool’s spring. And I’ve been fooled before. 

Fool’s spring, like fool’s gold, looks a lot like the real thing to the untrained eye. Typically, there are several every year, usually starting around March, when a few days in a row of unseasonably warm weather get everyone excited for the end of winter. Hints of green might even start to become visible. Then the snow returns as if it never left. 

My earliest recollection of being fooled by this phenomenon was as a preteen. After a beautiful, balmy weekend, I was sure the following school day would be just the same. This was back before I had a smart phone to check the weather, and of course I couldn’t be bothered to glance at the paper or check the news that Monday morning. I remember merrily hopping on the bus to go to school in my sandals. Then wading through the snow in those same sandals to get home after a snowstorm blew in while I was in class. 

You would think I’d learn. 

While I certainly didn’t make that mistake again, my version of this as an adult is getting my garden started before we’re done getting plant-murdering frosts in the dead of night. 

I know I’ve dodged some of the fool’s springs this year at least. A couple weeks ago, I was finally able to pull my shorts out of the closet and spend some time sitting outside in the sun. A few days later, my family in Helena got a three-foot snow drift across their driveway.

Even when we know better, fool’s spring is easy to fall for, and many of us still do to some extent every year. It’s the eagerness for the birth of spring, for longer days and warmer weather and getting to play outside again. For green grass and full trees and plants popping up by the dozens. It’s the eagerness for these things that make us fall for it time and time again, even just a little, and especially when we know better. 

While the month “spring” occurring in can be a pretty good indicator of whether warm weather is a fool’s spring or the start of the real one, things start to get a little less clear once May rolls around. Historically, May either means we’re finally in the clear for lasting warm weather, or one more blizzard will roll through and make sure the buds starting to surface never quite make it to bloom. 

This year I’m cautiously optimistic. I’ve kept a close eye on the forecasts, I’ve bided my time, and now, maybe, my first round of plants will get to live to see the warmer months. 

But just in case writing this is tempting fate, all of us who jumped on the opportunity to get our gardens going might want to ready our tarps. 

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