Did anyone miss my “best of spring” award this year? I usually post it in April, when lots of trees are blooming and spring color is everywhere. This year, however, warm weather is avoiding us. The entire spring has been unusually cool. We also had not one, but two, hard frosts after the trees began to bloom. The frosts severely affected the profusion and color of the tree blooms. Although the trees were still pretty, I didn’t see anything unusually spectacular to qualify as a recipient of my annual award.

The cool weather continues. For example, the normal high for this time of year is 82 degrees, but I did the laundry today and had to wash several pair of over-the-ankle socks, jeans, and three-quarter sleeved shirts. I’m supposed to be washing shorts and short-sleeved T-shirts and few, if any socks, because it should be sandal weather.

Still, it’s not all bad news. The flowering bushes were barely budding with leaves when the frosts hit, and they have bloomed very nicely. As a result, this year’s Dr. D Spring Award goes to our own mock orange bush. In all the years we’ve had this bush, it has never been so covered with white blooms.

Unfortunately, a few days later, when the wind and rain returned, the flower petals fell like snow.

The anonymously planted iris blooms on the common ground near our house were also very pretty this year. They started blooming around only four rocks in 2018 and they now bloom around eleven rocks. I didn’t get a picture of them, but I did take a picture of the little twig that appeared beside the iris in 2021. It has grown a lot over the past year and is obviously a redbud tree. It will be gorgeous when it blooms if the grounds crew doesn’t cut it down.

Happy (belated) spring!

This spring, it seems like it’s always raining. Fifteen of the 30 days in April included rain, and May isn’t far behind that ratio. The same thing happened last year. Rain, rain, rain until July arrived. Then it seemed like the faucet was turned off until September. Still, I’d rather have too much water than too little like the Southwest is experiencing.

On the light side, severe drought affects certain populations in unusual ways.

We had some exciting weather today. Two waves of severe storms moved through our area–one in the early afternoon and another one a few hours later. The second wave included a tornado warning for us. The storm sirens were wailing, so Ted and I grabbed a few things (car keys, drivers’ licenses, etc.), headed for the basement, and turned on that TV to keep informed.

See the circular storm cell in the upper right TV graphic? That entire cell was rotating. Ted (and the TV weatherman) said it is very unusual for a storm like that to rotate. Usually, strong storms develop in a line, not in a mass. In the large graphic on the left, you can see the white dot and line indicating the NWS radar, just a few miles southwest of our house. The lower right graphic shows the visibility. Or not. We had very heavy rain and winds gusting at about 60 mph. Three EF-0 (winds at 80 mph) tornadoes formed just east of us and there was an EF-1 tornado across the Mississippi River in Illinois.

The metro area had some wind damage (trees down), but the heavy rain was a bigger problem with lots of flooding and water damage. St. Louis County had 3 inches of rain in a little more than an hour. A storm drain on I-55 became clogged, causing the road to flood across all lanes. I-55 was closed for several hours to clear the drain and to allow the water level to drop.

We were lucky. No tornadoes, no roof damage, only small branches and leaves blown off the trees, and only 1.3 inches of rain. Isn’t spring fun in the Midwest?

This was the week for old friends. On Wednesday evening, I received a text from my neighbor, Claudia. She said Gene and Mary contacted her and said they would be in town on Thursday and wanted to meet Claudia, Ted, and me for lunch tomorrow if we were available. We all said “yes” and it was wonderful to see our old neighbors again. I think they said it was 2002 when they moved out of our neighborhood and relocated to a small town about 25 miles north of here. In 2013, they moved to Florida, so it’s been awhile since we’ve seen them. It was so much fun to catch up with them about what we’ve all been doing, what our kids are doing, and how many grandchildren we all have. We exchanged current contact information and will take them up on their offer to visit them the next time we go to Florida.

Thursday’s lunch with Gene and Mary was followed by a Friday evening dinner with a former co-worker of Ted’s. Roy took a little road trip from Green Bay to St. Louis to attend a Cardinals baseball game and wanted to spend some time catching up with Ted. We had a nice restaurant dinner and then spent several hours visiting with Roy at our house. It was just the way I remember NWS gatherings from Ted’s working days. At least ninety percent of the conversation was weather-related. Big storms of the distant and recent past were popular topics and so were changes in forecasting technology. The conclusion of NWS gatherings is almost always that, in the “old days,” most things were better. I’m used to that kind of conversation, so I didn’t mind. It’s always amazing to me, however, that these forecasters can remember the month, day, and year of every major storm. When Ted and Roy were talked out, Roy headed back to his hotel and left us with an invitation to visit him in Green Bay and to give him a chance to show us the area. (I think he momentarily forgot that we both used to live in that area.) It was another good evening with an old friend.

Coming up: A birthday party for Floyd, one of the teachers I used to work with and later supervised. Floyd’s 90th birthday was in 2020, but his daughter told me she couldn’t have the party at that time (thanks, COVID) so she’s having it this year. We’ll be celebrating Floyd’s 90th birthday as well as his 92nd birthday. If some of the other teachers are there, Ted can listen to my friends and me discussing education and how things used to be better in our old days.

I was cleaning out some photo files and found a picture I took from our backyard patio last October. This animal was relaxing on our neighbor’s back lawn. It looked kind of like a cat, but it was really big for a cat. A bobcat? I wondered. But the nose looked kind of pointy. Maybe a fox?

Then the animal turned its head and yes, it was a bobcat.

That was the first (and so far, the only) time I’ve seen a bobcat. It looked pretty laid back, but it didn’t seem like a good idea to get closer to pet it.

Ted and I met Kathy and Annette in Columbia to celebrate Kathy’s birthday. We had a wonderful time together, beginning with a long brunch at Bob Evans, and then heading downtown. We walked around for a little while and browsed in some stores. It was sunny and near 70 degrees, but there was a strong, cold wind, gusting to at least 30 mph, so we soon headed for The Candy Factory–our last downtown stop.

After we were all well-supplied with chocolate, we went to the food court at the Columbia Mall and snagged a table. We bought some refreshing beverages and settled in for a birthday party with presents, cookies, candy, and Mahjong.

The time flew by and, at one point, so did Annette. “Oh, gosh!” she exclaimed as she bolted from her chair and ran out the door. We all thought she’d seen someone who was hurt and we turned to look for the problem. When Annette returned, she was holding a $1 bill that she had seen blowing past the window. That was good for a laugh from the rest of us and it was just enough to cover our parking cost in the downtown garage.

When the food court vendors turned off their lights at 7:00 p.m., we realized we were all hungry for dinner. We unanimously agreed we’d rather have pizza than anything else, so we headed for Kathy’s and my favorite pizza place in Columbia: Shakespeare’s. It was Saturday night and we didn’t want to wait in line to join the noisy college crowd at the downtown restaurant. We decided to live on the edge and try one of Shakespeare’s other locations. Everything was the same, except that the crowd was smaller and less noisy, allowing us to have a dinner conversation without shouting. We noticed that the clocks indicate the time in a variety of Missouri cities, apparently without logic.

Too soon, it was time to go our separate ways and make the 90-minute drives to our homes. We had a wonderful time together and we’re looking forward to our next visit with each other. Happy birthday, Kathy!

Kathy–7 months old

It’s spring, so Ted made his usual appointment to have our air conditioner inspected to make sure we’re ready for the hot July days. Unfortunately, the technician identified a bad leak in the AC unit. The AC is 19 years old and we already repaired a leak in it four years ago, so we bit the bullet and ordered a new one. The furnace was installed at the same time as the air conditioner and is also showing signs of aging, so we ordered a new furnace too. We should be comfortably warm and cool for the next 20 years.

Before the installer arrived, we received a text from the company identifying the technician who would be coming to our house. Other companies have given us the name of the technician we should expect, but this is the first time we’ve received a picture and a brief bio.

Rick brought a helper with him. The helper set up the air conditioner outside while Rick replaced the furnace and all the indoor conduits, wiring, accessories, etc. There were a lot of boxes and pieces.

It took the guys a little more than six hours to complete their work, When they finished, we had a new AC unit, a new furnace, a new humidifier, a new air scrubber, and a new smart thermostat. They’re not glamourous, but we wouldn’t want to be without them.

You’d think the story would end here, but a few days later, we had a surprise package on our front porch. When we opened it up, we found . . . cookies! We received a dozen chocolate chip cookies and a large insulated water bottle from the HVAC company in appreciation of our business.

We weren’t expecting this, but we remembered the cookies we received from the window company in 2021. Those cookies were so good, I saved the recipe that was included with them. Surprise! Both companies sent the same cookies. This cookie company (in Kansas City, MO) must be successfully targeting businesses to promote customer appreciation. It’s that little added touch that makes you want to call the company for service next time, right? Yum.