Friday, January 27, 2012
Breaking News: North oddly hospitable to plants!
My usual reactions whilst reading the newspaper, though always thoughtful and apropos, range from a smirk, snort (of derision or laughter, your choice), eye roll, to your everyday exclamation of “we’re doomed!” Today however, I was jolted from my repertoire of pat emotions and expressions by a shocking article in our local paper, the Anchorage Daily News.
The article, written by a Mr. Seth Borenstein of the AP, was a fascinating quarter page entitled, “Updated planting zones reflect warmer reality.” What drew me in was the subtitle or whatever they call that thing in large font under the title, “USDA: More southerly vegetation has found north oddly hospitable.” Now you get to choose what I found shocking. What fun!
Choice A: Our daily paper has printed an article concerning gardening, in section A no less. We are treated to a once-weekly garden column and, in my opinion, little other local coverage of that delightful hobby that ensnares approximately 31% of Americans. Wait a minute, on second thought, that might be the percentage that regularly use expletives. I’ve read 61% of persons in the USA garden, a figure that was not (I’d be willing to bet a six-pack of marigolds) gathered in Alaska. 61% of Alaskans have blue tarps but only 21% garden, according to the numbers I just made up.
Choice B: The north is termed oddly hospitable. Why can’t we be just hospitable, why must we be odd? A few plants do make their home here in the north country sans global warming: I can think of at least 4 offhand. Oh, wait, never mind, that cherry tree did die after all.
Choice C: A dear man, one professor Richard Primack, said (and I must quote this in it’s entirety, too shocking) that “people who grow plants are well aware of the fact that temperatures have gotten more mild throughout the year, particularly in the wintertime (interruption by me: the temperature has been subzero almost every day of January. I am currently swaddled in blankets and a turtleneck under a thick wool sweater with ugly brown slippers to complete my indoor survival outfit. And am still cold. But who am I to complain, yesterday I wore my down jacket and hat in the house. For goodness sake, prof, we’re usually in the twenties this time of year. Now back to the quote where he goes on to rub it in my face.) “There’s a lot of things you can grow now that you couldn’t grow before.” Yes, like false hopes and shattered dreams and that blasted orange Heuchera. Whoops, not the Heuchera. I’m waiting for that “warmer reality,” Dr. Primack. Anytime now.
Choice D: The government actually updated the climate zones. To give you an idea just how often this happens, the old map is from 1990. One really terrific feature of the new map is “for the first time [it] include[s] more detailed factors such as prevailing winds, the presence of nearby bodies of water, the slope of the land, and the way cities are hotter than suburbs and rural areas.” Bravo!
Now that you’ve made your choice, I urge you to hotfoot it over to the USDA’s website and check out your zone. I did just that and found myself to be in zone 6. Just kidding, I only wish I was in zone 6. I’m still zone 4b. Wait, that is warmer! Still, Alaska looks pretty cold according to the map and my current reality. I’m waiting, Prof Primack, waiting for that “warmer reality”. Go ahead. Anytime now. Still waiting….
Are you enjoying a warmer reality? Oddly hospitable, perhaps?