Another Winter, Another Spring

The weather has been warm and the daylight hours noticeably longer, but, as the National Weather Service remarked this morning, winter is not quite done with the Bay Area. Two cold weather systems are forecast for the rest of this week, with gale warnings on the coast and four feet or so of new snow predicted on top of the already record snowcap in the High Sierra. In our area, we may see freezing temperatures at night and snow levels falling to about 1000 feet elevation. Towards the end of the week I hope to photograph the snow blanketing ridge-tops around the Livermore Valley (if we get some breaks in the clouds). We don’t experience serious winter weather like our friends and family in the Midwest, but this is probably as close to it as we get.

Despite our weather forecast, fruit trees are well into their annual budding and blooming cycle. Wild bees and honey bees have been out and around to pollinate the blossoms, and we hope for the best when it comes to blossoms surviving the coming winds and cold. Here are some photos to show the progress:

Honey bee pollinating our early apricot.
Honey bee moving from one apricot blossom to another. Note the pollen clinging to the bee’s legs.
Plum blossoms. We have three different plum trees, but the blossoms all look pretty much the same. With this many blossoms open at once, I wonder if we get any wind pollination similar to what happens with corn.
Plum tree in our neighbor’s yard. Notice the large numbers of blossoms along each branch.
Blossoms almost ready to open on our lime tree. Orange and tangerine trees bloom once per year, later in the spring, but for some reason our lemon and lime trees bloom and set fruit three or four times per year, seemingly without much regard for the weather.

Our fruit trees bloom in sequence according to their variety. We have an early apricot that comes first, followed by two mid-season apricot trees that bloom about three weeks later. The earliest plums bloom a week or two before the apricots are finished, followed by a peach tree and then a late plum tree. Each bloom lasts for three weeks, more or less. And careful watchers will notice a few blossoms opening up some days before the three weeks start, and a few late ones linger after the three weeks. I think God designed it that way so that at least a few days warm and wind-free enough for the bees to do their work would occur sometime in that window of time.

Wrapping up, we noticed mockingbirds singing a few days ago. Yes, they are rather territorial birds, but their songs are joyous to hear, and confirmation that spring is upon us. Thank God for rain and snow, and thank God for spring!

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