My husband, Kevin, regularly assures me that things are never as bad as I fear they might be.
But my philosophy is this: As long as I’m aware of possible worst-case scenarios, I’ll be prepared. (Flying tent and broken arms aside, this world-view generally works in my favor.) Of course, my pessimism is bizarrely coupled with a deep shade of rose glasses, so it’s understandable that I drive Kevin a bit crazy.
So, in the wake of the polar vortex, I’ve started fretting about our fruit trees, and the damage they may have sustained.
Our home in Geneva is smack dab in the middle of USDA Hardiness Zone 6a, with average extreme winter lows of -10F to -5F. So this past week’s deep freeze was well within expected norms, since the lowest temperature we were awake for was -4F.
And the varieties I’ve selected were mostly developed by researchers at ag stations in Geneva and Canton in New York as well as Michigan and New Hampshire — well suited to Zone 6a conditions:
• Fingerlakes Super Hardy Peach, can withstand temperatures to -20F (Zone 5)
• Liberty and MacFree apples, Zone 5
• Black Gold cherry, Zone 5
• All-in-One almond, Zone 5
• Montmorency pie cherry, able to withstand temperatures as low as -30F (Zone 4)
• Balaton pie cherry, Zone 5
• Mount Royal plum, Zone 4
• Tyson pear, Zone 5
• Canadice, Reliance, Interlaken, Alden, Steuben grapes, all Zone 5
But, still, we haven’t had such sustained extreme winter temperatures in a number of years — not since we planted our edible trees and vines. I’m not just concerned for their well-being — I’m nervous about not having enough food!
When the mercury plunges, Kevin and I can don wool undergarments, heavy boots and thick sweaters, make sure our hands and heads are covered and go about our business — our silhouettes a bit thicker, but otherwise unfazed.
I can’t do the same for our fruit-bearing brethren — other than the compost, mulch and white paint applied so long ago, under much milder conditions.
So, instead, for the next couple of months, I’ll imagine the worst: frozen buds, broken limbs, cracked bark, dead trees.
And hope that things aren’t as bad as I fear.