The diversity of spring in Tehachapi
Land of Four Seasons
May 11, 2019
Of the four seasons in the Tehachapi Mountains, spring is the one with the greatest diversity of weather, temperatures, natural changes and other conditions. Officially beginning about March 20 and lasting until June 21, spring in Tehachapi can bring snow, wind and freezing cold, but it can also be a time of gentle rain, cool breezes and mild temperatures.
And spring can also bring hot weather, dry winds and decidedly summer-like conditions. The three months of spring offer the biggest range of change and transformation.
Spring can be a time of water: when the storms of winter result in seasonal creeks awakening, bringing the musical sound of running water back to creekbeds that had long been dry and silent.
The water from rain and melting snow nourishes the Plant Kingdom and the animals that depend on it.
Winter usually brings the most moisture, but in spring temperatures rise into the 50s, 60s and 70s, giving plants conditions that are warm enough for them to grow.
As a result, the hillsides turn green with new grass and in years with adequate rainfall like this one, wildflowers bloom in profusion. Spring is the Season of Flowers – reason enough to love any time of year that has flowers as a defining characteristic.
But it isn't just native wildflowers that bloom in spring – it is the season that orchards flower as well, and the apples, pears, peaches, cherries and other crops that blossom bring cascades of pink and white flowers. An orchard in full flower is a thing of beauty, both for the colorful blossoms and the promise of fruit to come in summer and fall.
The Tehachapi Mountains began to be known for the high quality of local fruit before World War I, when 40-acres of Bartlett pears planted by pioneering orchardist Burt Denison began to produce. The amount of acreage planted to fruit trees has ebbed and flowed over the years since then, but there has been continuous fruit production in the valleys of Tehachapi for more than 100 years. The annual springtime flowering of local fruit trees has been a welcome event for over a century.
Of course the flowering isn't limited to just wildflowers and fruit trees – bulbs, shrubs, perennials and other plants also contribute to spring's reputation as the undisputed champion of flowers. Lilacs are a Tehachapi favorite, and April and May bring forth lilacs from well-tended yards and forgotten plantings alike. Lilacs are very hardy and can persist even when neglected.
Lilacs can be found both in commercial plantings for the cut-flower market as well as at homes and yards throughout the Tehachapi Mountains. We have the chilling hours required for them to bloom, which many lower-elevation areas lack.
Spring in the Tehachapi Mountains also means baby animals, from creatures both wild and domestic. Songbirds, quail, raptors, ravens and other birds build nests and raise chicks, while mammals like rabbits, squirrels, bobcats, foxes, coyotes, mice and others produce young as well.
Livestock also tend to give birth in spring, and lambs, calves, kids (baby goats), foals, piglets and others also arrive, dependably adorable. Lambing, calving and kidding seasons are stressful but rewarding.
Spring and its many blessings are ephemeral in nature: the changing weather conditions keep changing and getting warmer as summer arrives. Surface water becomes scarce and creeks dry, grasses turn yellow, flowers fade and chicks and other baby animals grow up. A season that may have started with snow ends with warmth of summer. The 90 days of spring are a time of great change and great beauty in the Tehachapi Mountains.
There are reasons to rejoice about each of the four seasons, but I have to concede that spring is my favorite. There have been songs and movies that celebrate an Endless Summer, but if I had to pick, I'd choose Eternal Spring.
Each winter, I wait not-so-patiently for spring to return, with her creeks and flowers and baby animals, her warm days, cool nights and gentle breezes perfumed with flowers.