Dogwood and Redbud Winters

Have y'all noticed how cold it's been lately? The flowering trees are in bloom, and  the temperature is dipping down into the 40s at night. Of course, there's an old-timey mountain tradition to explain the phenomenon. Here's an essay, first posted here on HerKentucky last year, about just that. -- HCW

When I was growing up in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, I rolled my eyes at a lot of conventional mountain wisdom.  Some of that was, of course, the traditional child's prerogative; parents and grandparents simply can't know what they're talking about with their old-fashioned perspectives.  And, to this Muppets-and-Madonna-loving child of the '80s,  old-timey mountain traditions seemed a relic of a long-gone era. 

As an adult, I've had to rescind quite a bit of my know-it-all scorn. The twangy mountain music that my granddaddy played on his vintage Martin guitar sounds curiously like the hipster-standard Raconteurs and Avett Brothers tracks that fill my iPod.  My grandmother's Crisco-and-butter cooking turned out to be far healthier than the fake food revolution of my childhood.  And, so many pieces of folk wisdom -- the most embarrassing, "unscientific" observations of the natural world -- have turned out to be true.  I've been forced to eat my words time and again.  The most dramatic example is Redbud Winter and its close, usually later, cousin Dogwood Winter.  

Now, when I was a kid, I hated hearing about these supposed weather phenomena.  When the first warm spring rolled around, it should be warm and pretty and springy from then on.  Without fail, someone would note "Oh, it'll get cold again.  We haven't even had Redbud or Dogwood winter yet.  Don't put your coats away." That was surely just an old wives' tale.

Except, it wasn't.  Every spring, the pretty, delicate blooms on the flowering trees brings a dramatic cold snap.  This year was no different -- last week brought 85 degree days, then the redbuds and dogwoods started to peek out.  As I started to unpack my spring dresses and shorts, I immediately thought that I'd better leave out a few cold weather items, just in case.  Of course, redbud winter came a few short days later, bringing cold mornings and brisk days.  

I guess the old-timers are right after all.

{all photos taken in my mom's Floyd County backyard}