What Are the Three Cold Spells after Spring?

Don't pack up your winter sweaters and jackets just yet.

Most of us around upper east Tennessee know that it’s a little too soon to pack up all our winter sweaters and jackets just yet. Even though the spring flowers are blooming and the birds are singing we might just have a few more cold spells before we can say good-bye to the cold winter air and forget the bad snows and winter of 2010-2011 completely.

Redbud waiting for the sun to burst wide-open
Redbud waiting for the sun to burst wide-open

‘Flat-land fureigners'

Each year during this time in the mountains of east Tennessee, a spectacular transition takes place. It’s not that it always happens on the same date, but you can pretty well bet on it happening in similar fashion year after year, and it seems to hold a particular sequence in happening. Some of us old timers get tickled when the ‘flat-land foreigners' who are really transplants from other sections of the country seem to get confused as to just which cold spell we are havin’ at the time. They are never able to get it straight and it is a mite amusing over-hearing one mistakenly says just which season we happen to be experiencing at that particular time. I know, I’ve probably got a lot o’folk wondering, “Just what is he talking about?” while others very well know I’m just speaking of our annual phenomenon of spring cold spells.

Do you experience spring cold spell where you live?

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Dogwood is next, in a few weeks
Dogwood is next, in a few weeks

All a fella has to do is just look around...

All a fella has to do is just look around and he could see that things are a happenin’, but strangers and ‘new comers’ around here are just too busy tryin’ to get adjusted to even notice that nature is in conflict with itself.  It seems the weather just can’t quite make up its mind as to whether it is spring yet or still winter.  So after a week or so of warm weather where we all get our mowers tuned up and maybe even mow once or twice, the flowers are blooming and the birds are singin’ then it gets cold again for a short spell.  If it is just after the spring equinox and we find the fruit trees trying to ‘put out’ a little then we look at the old redbud trees which are about to bloom; all the old timers know this cold spell is probably ‘redbud winter’.

Blackberry, usually warm after this
Blackberry, usually warm after this

Local climate folklore

Now that’s not too hard, is it? But if you just happen to run into one of these transplants, and to show their tremendous amount of intelligence in local norms and mores that their mouths flies open before they think and say, “Is this Blackberry Winter…” The locals just look around at one another and chuckle a little, shaken our heads. God has a pattern for everything you know, it says so right in the Bible – “everything according to its season”. While we locals have never seen the Blackberries bloom before the Dogwood much less the Redbud, we just let those with all that strange wisdom skillfully place their own foot right in their mouth.

If one was to look closer into local climate folklore they would see that the cold snap cycles seem to follow the blooming of the redbud, the dogwood, and then the blackberry vines. Some ole timers even call one Honey Locust Winter if we happen to have a fourth cold spell. Locals that follow the winters see them occurring at three or four distinct cold snaps every year. The Cherokee Indians even used these unseasonal cold spells to plant their crops.

© 2011 SamSonS

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Comments 15 comments

Fiddleman profile image

Fiddleman 5 years ago from Zirconia, North Carolina

Great write my friend and I was just thinking about "blackberry winter" I think we escaped the frost burn on our Bradford pears and my wifes daffodils still look ok. the little bit of wind sure helped.

samsons1 profile image

samsons1 5 years ago from Tennessee Author

thanks Fiddleman for your quick response. My wife also said the overcast skies and the wind help us also miss Jack Frost this morning...

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

I never heard about things like "blackberry winter." I live in the midst of Cranberry bogs but I really could not tell you when they grow without looking it up.A few birds were foolish enough to arrive here a week or two ago. i don't know what they did when it started snowing.

samsons1 profile image

samsons1 5 years ago from Tennessee Author

thanks dahoglund for stopping by. Don't guess you have these seasons where you live. My brother, while in the USAF was stationed In Limestone Maine one year and it was so far north he said they had summer on the 21st of June between 2 and 4 in the afternoon...

WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

I love your part of the country. I lived on a Kentucky hill farm for a few years, and I still miss the beauty of it all.

samsons1 profile image

samsons1 5 years ago from Tennessee Author

thanks Will for your comments. Come on back any time...

fred allen profile image

fred allen 5 years ago from Myrtle Beach SC

Everybody wants to complain about the weather, but nobody seems to do anything about it!~ ;-) Glad to see you are still writing and giving us a peek into your world and our past.

samsons1 profile image

samsons1 5 years ago from Tennessee Author

thanks fred for your visit and your nice comments. I believe God controls everything, even the weather, and I know he hears and answers our prayers even if it's for no more than pretty day.


Dave Mathews profile image

Dave Mathews 5 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

samsons1: Although March 21, is considered to be the first day of spring, unless God tells the winter angels no more cold weather and no more snow, they will do their thing for it's what they do. God has a good reason if cold spells or snowfalls happen past this date, thing is He doesn't have to inform us what the reason is.

We Canadians learned this lesson many times over the years. God gets what God wants.

samsons1 profile image

samsons1 5 years ago from Tennessee Author

thanks Dave for stopin' by, when I wrote this I was speaking about local weather norms, didn't realize that all you folks north of Tennessee was experiencing snow all over again...

Dave Mathews profile image

Dave Mathews 5 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

samsons1: Canada, This is the true north. Land above the 49th. paralell is considered "God's country. I have seen snow falling in July, yup, July.

Pollyannalana profile image

Pollyannalana 5 years ago from US

I went out a few days ago up around 80, picnic and pictures of flowers, blooming trees, and today I just want to stay in bed and stay warm! Global warming my ear muffs!


samsons1 profile image

samsons1 5 years ago from Tennessee Author

*Hey Dave, I can concede that Canada is north, even true north, but God's country, sorry. Around here the mountains and rolling hills of east Tennessee, the smoky mountains in the background and the peace and friendliness of those native to these hills..., this sir, is truly GOD'S COUNTRY. Tennessee Ernie Ford said so and his dad use to deliver my parents mail up the road in Bristol.

*and Polly, yes we also are having a cool spell today, but being south of the Ohio we know that even though we have a few cool spells along, summertimes a'comin'...

LoraKayAlexander profile image

LoraKayAlexander 5 years ago

I love this beautiful info! It's a breath of fresh springtime. I love the Dogwoods. I am from a little town in KY hills. My Dad grew everything you can think of. :-)

samsons1 profile image

samsons1 5 years ago from Tennessee Author

thanks Lora Kay for you kind comments and for sharing your reminisce about your dad...

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