Today I write from Mendocino County, CA – 120 miles north of the Bay Area, on the edge of the “Lost Coast,” and in the circulation zones of both the Anderson Valley Advertiser (“Fanning the flames of discontent”) and the Green Fuse – where the effects of a freakish “split polar vortex” are impossible to ignore. This weather anomaly delivered a biting cold wind that has dug in with icy claws and is hanging on persistently. Snow is on the way.
It’s not Minnesota cold (where I spent seven winters) and I’m certainly grateful for that. So, though nightly lows have dipped below freezing, the lettuce that overwintered in the garden has survived, and the kale and carrots have been deliciously sweetened. (If you’ve never tasted winter-harvested kale or carrots, then you’ve never tasted kale or carrots, as far as I’m concerned.)
Though on the chillier end, these temps are not out of the historic range for this area at this time of year. What’s jarring about them is that they came right on the heels of a warmer-than-usual mid-winter thaw. The sun heated the oak-dotted hills to 75 degrees for a week, coaxed out flushes of wildflowers on the slopes, induced the mustard greens to bolt, and hatched clouds of moths. For a few sultry, open-windowed nights, the spiders in the cabin captured these moths by the dozens and wrapped them up tight for later. Some are still hanging high on the walls like ill-fated campers in mummy-style sleeping bags (or dwarves from tree branches).