April fools! The tree flowers are in bloom all over West Virginia, even at the highest elevation haunts of Spruce Knob. Whoever heard of such a maddeningly early, mid-March green up like this one? Can you recall any in your lifetime annals? At first, everyone has been basking in the record warmth. Even the wild critters seem jubilant.
But, we’re not kidding. Just look out your window for the living proof. This is no April fool’s prank. The colorful autumn like hue to those mountains are in reality, not leaf out. More accurately, we should call it, “flower out.” You read that right.
What we see are the tiny, subtle and sometimes stringy reds, oranges and yellow blossoms of the maples, oaks, hickories and so on. This is the stuff that turns into acorns, hickory nuts and other critical wildlife foods. Though not as showy as the daffodils, roses and tulips; they are flowers nevertheless with the same functions of bearing fruit and seed.
The guys sipping coffee at Camden’s grocery near the high elevation Canaan country were all over it. “This was no winter. We’re going to have to pay for it next year. And the wildlife might be paying sooner. They’re calling for frost next week.” That fear of frost is thus setting in. And they’re not the only ones with a major case of the worry warts.
A farmer may be able to replant but no such luck for those delicately forming fruits up on the mountain. Better luck next year, says Mother Nature. So let’s keep our fingers crossed and for all those wildflower gatherings from Chief Logan to Blackwater Falls State Parks, there won’t be any shortage of blooming specimens for this year’s go around.
Though there is not much we can do about weather and its effects on flowers and wildlife food production, our worries are well-founded. Unlike many states with major cash crop acreage in soybeans, corn, wheat, sorghum and alfalfa; the Mountain State has very little to fall back on compliments of the American farmer. Here it is generally life or death dealt out by the annual allotment of victuals.
The decline of the West Virginia wild turkey, grouse and deer populations in this New Millennium may be directly attributable to meager masts and some successive doses thereof. We had been on a bit of rebound. With hopes more of the same, we can only wish one big April fools for the prospects of widespread killing frosts during this delicate, albeit early flower bloom.
If not, our worries will be founded in that they just won’t be bearing much fruit!