“Blackberry winter, comes without a warning, when you think that spring is here to stay, you wake up on a cold and wintry morning, wondering what on Earth became of May. ...”
The recent cool morning temperatures, in the wake of several sunburn-producing spring weekends and just a handful of days out from Memorial Day and the unofficial kickoff to summer. reminds me of a cold night when my grandmother said, “Put a log on the fire! It’s blackberry winter, all right”.
Blackberry winter is a belief that, either on or in the days around May 10, the Northern Hemisphere will experience one final wave of chilly winter weather. The belief dates back to 1500s Europe and has been fueled by scientific hypothesis, Roman Catholicism and just plain old-fashioned observation. (Bing, search engine)
The cool spell can be traced to three Roman Catholic saints: St. Mamertus, St. Pancras and St. Servatius. The feast dates of these individuals were May 11, 12 and 13. Not long into celebrating those feasts, worshippers began noticing that on the day preceding them, the weather would turn exceedingly cold. As a result, these three individuals became known as “the Ice Saints,” and the celebration of their feasts often marked the last nightly frosts of the spring.
Galileo, who diligently recorded the weather from 1655 to 1670, documented the phenomenon, According to the Guardian, a British newspaper, pupils of Galileo studied his records and “reported a marked cold snap over the days of the Ice Saints, and later studies seemed to confirm their finding. It was even theorized that a belt of asteroids blocked out the sun’s rays over this period.”
Today, French gardeners often religiously await the Feasts of the Ice Saints prior to planting.
We really didn’t have a cold snap here, although evening and early-morning temperatures were cooler than they had been. So maybe a touch of blackberry winter did arrive, right on time.
I’ve been watching two fat doves calmly munch food from the bird feeders. They haven’t noticed the three chipmunks scrabbling on the ground for the crumbs that fall from the feeders. I want to help the little chipmunks, but something keeps me still. I wait. The doves fly away, leaving the chipmunks free to eat all they want. But without the doves to scratch the leftovers down, they still cannot eat. I start to leave, disappointed and aggravated at the cruelty of nature. Then, I hear a soft whirling sound, a gentle cooing — the doves are returning!
They dive into the feeder, scattering seeds out and right into the grass under the feeder. The chipmunks hurry to the food. I hear a reassuring Voice, “Behold, the fowls of the air for they sow not ... your Father feeds them.” (Matthew 6)
And He does — ‘round town.
Glenda Byars is a correspondent for The Gadsden Times. Send submissions to email@example.com.