December’s Spring

New Yorkers are seeing spring in December this year.


The city’s temperatures soared far above normal for our region every single day throughout the month, reaching 72 degrees F on the 24th, Christmas Eve. Our historical average is 40 degrees for the day before Christmas here. And much as I love rose blossoms nodding in the wind…


and sunflowers dipping to earth…


marigold buds popping open, and new sage leaves packed with fragrance and magical oil,


usually December in New York City is a more somber, reflective time for mother nature – and us. She shows us only a few red berries on bare shrub stems and the skeletons of trees patiently waiting for spring.

All of these photos are from around St. Marks church, taken December 27th. At 60 degrees that day, our neighborhoods looked and felt like spring.


The blooms are pretty, and winter warmth is pleasant. But those flowers and woody shrubs that bloom now probably won’t in spring, according to the plant experts at the New York Botanical Garden. They get to do it once a year. After flowering, these plants run out of the energy they had saved up all year for spring.

New Yorkers are never really quite normal, but in our experience of climate change during December’s spring, we are not alone.

Last month, November 2015, is marked as the earth’s warmest November ever recorded, at about 2 degrees higher than the average of 55 for the globe in the whole 20th century – according to NASA. And last month was the 7th month in a row to break heat records around the world. From the earth’s poles to her lakes and plants, climate records show we are all feeling the heat.

This year as we inch toward the new year in New York City, I can’t help wondering what December’s spring means for the rest of us living things.


Read more about how environmental changes affect our lives, in Brindle 24, my latest novel – at my author page.

7 responses to “December’s Spring”

  1. Somehow I missed this excellent and thought-provoking post when you first published it, but it is a subject we must address at any time of year. Here in the Shenandoah Valley, we definitely saw signs of early spring at inappropriate times. Crocuses and forsythia were the main ones that showed us blooms in December and January when we would normally not see them until March.

    Our ecosystems — and the ways they intersect and interact — are so complex, and it is quite alarming to think of the impact these changes have on birds, animals, trees, and humans.

    Thanks for making us more mindful of our own footprint in the world.


  2. Well, this isn’t happening in North Dakota! While we were blessed with a lovely fall – and I mean lovely, as I only complained once I think – our winter has come is a bit like a big kitty with a growl. Temps in the teens and even a few negatives over the holidays. While I would like to live in an easier climate, I don’t think I’d like the blossoms now to give them up in the spring. Spring is a lovely time here, though it does come late. I like my trees budding and flowers blooming in April or May. I too worry about the future and what these climate changes will mean for our kids and grandkids.


    • You’re getting winter full on! Yes, I would love to look forward to future generations for my daughters, but I am becoming worried for them in the environment we’re shaping. I’m all for change and progress – still, the unknown of climate change is concerning… what will the natural cycles change into?


  3. Lovely photos, J.J. and well put. This December has been all over the place. First snow this morning, not that it will last. And yet Texas has a blizzard and tornadoes and Karen is freezing her buns in the Plains. It doesn’t take a genius to see the damage we have done or the changes that damage brings. Just a little common sense. Sadly too many on one side of the political spectrum are not even blessed with a the common sense the Universe gave to a mosquito.

    Enough of a ramble…
    Happy New Year.



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