Sunday, March 22, 2015

Spring Comes to the Cumberland

Spring officially arrived in Ono County on March 20th at 5:45 pm CDST. This is when the sun was directly over the equator on its journey to the Northern Hemisphere. Scientifically it is referred to as the Vernal Equinox.

White Trillium, Blue Flocks, & Violets 
Spring in the Cumberland region is a time when the trees bloom. A time when the lake can be coated with enough pollen to create a yellow sea. The woods become a fairy land with the deep wine of the redbud with an understory of frothy layers of white dogwoods.

The Cumberland Plateau is an east/west range of old mountains that extend across the border of Kentucky and Tennessee. The Cumberland River meanders through the plateau in all directions before it enters the Ohio River moving north from Kentucky. This includes a broad dip through downtown Nashville. It was once the major highway of the region, but is now home to several TVA lakes with great fishing and boating.
Spring is an odd time and the locals who live close to the seasons describe the cold snaps as "winters." We overheard a group of coffee drinkers discussing the various winters and which one caused the most impact as we ate breakfast the other morning.
Redbud or Linen Britches Winter: These are two names that allude to the first cold snap after the flush of early spring. Linen Britches refers to the fact you've been fooled by warm weather and have put away heavy clothing for the coolness of linen.
Dogwood Winter occurs close on the heals of Redbud winter when the dogwoods are in bloom.

Tulips Dusted with Snow
Blackberry Winter is the next progression when the thorny bushes bloom.
Whippoorwill Winter is the last hard cold snap when you can hear his song at the twilight. This bird is heralded as the true harbinger of spring.
Locust Winter occurs when the Black Locust trees are in flower spreading their sweet smell and pollen across the land.

Firewood & Yellow Trillium
Stump Winter is the final round, it is so described because you've burned everything but the stumps from your winter fuel supply.
Each "winter" is milder than the previous and it isn't unusual to find violets and daffodils blooming through the snow. This past winter has been particularly difficult for many Kentuckians so any evidence of an early spring brings delight and joy. It is still a good idea to wait until Locust Winter to set out your tomato plants.
Nash Black would like to thank the late Lester Acree of Jamestown, KY for helping us get the winters in the correct order.


  1. I knew when we had that last warm warm spell, and I saw the locust pollen falling like snow, that it'd would turn cold again.

  2. Yellow bells are drooping. It was 23 when I let dogs out for their run.