Spring Break

Following a seasonable March, April has been exceptionally cool in Missouri, with frequent frost advisories and a dearth of warm, sunny days. While there has been a gradual greening of the landscape, it seems that spring has been on hold for several weeks.

But while the cold has slowed the life cycles of plants, reptiles, insects and amphibians, the birds and mammals proceed on schedule, responding primarily to the lengthening days. Tree swallows, cliff swallows and eastern phoebes have been back for most of the month and are surely struggling with the chill's suppressive effect on insects. Most of the other summer residents should arrive over the coming week and, fortunately, warmer conditions are forecast. Wild mammals, of course, equipped with protective coats and versatile in their diet, are little affected by our cold spell.

This break from "normal" temperatures is far from unusual. Indeed, in the American Midwest, April is second only to March in the fickle nature of its weather. But we humans, impatient for a final split from winter, are not enamored with cold rain and gray skies.