News - March 4, 2014

Blog: Springtime

Once upon a time, in a town called Wageningen, winter followed autumn and then followed spring. That was the natural course of the seasons. In 2014, however, spring came earlier than usual. More accurately, that year winter had hardly come at all.

In my imagination, informed by Dutch and Flemish 17th Century paintings, Dutch winter is so cold that people ice-skate along the ditches and on river banks. This winter, however, I hardly saw any trace of ice, even in the most insignificant ponds. As I discovered, my expectations about the Dutch winter were not the only ones to remain unfulfilled. Especially international students from semi-tropical areas of the planet by November had braced themselves against what had been described to them as a rigid and relentless winter. In December we were ready for snowstorms and ice-skating, but nothing came. World wise Dutch friends claimed ‘just wait ‘til January, you’ll see’. Experiencing what came as the warmest January in decades, however, international students breathed a sigh of relief: this is not so bad at all. At the beginning of February, some lunatics still swore that ice and snow were about to come. Time proved them wrong.

You may think that this is pretty for a change, but truth is warm winter can be catastrophic for environmental equilibria. I’m distressed by the amount of ticks that the rigid temperature missed to decimate. Mosquitoes are going to feast. Our dear deer and rabbits multiply unrestrained and might damage more crops later this year. The winter sleep of many animals has been disrupted, including wild boars and the non-native squirrels, which might -ugh!- become aggressive. But there are also positive sides to this unrealized winter. Singing early birds, bulbs and other flowers pop up everywhere from the soil. Just like the birds, people seem fresher and more energized. Just like the bulbs, lots of projects are sprouting or starting off again with renewed amounts of energy.

Come what may! And hope that a wild boar doesn’t come your way.