…My laundry pile was empty. I mean, empty. Nothing more to wash.

This unprecedented state of affairs (in a working farm household with 6 people, four of them attracted to mud like magnets) didn’t last long – then Asher dumped his muddy socks on the floor and Eli took a bath and pushed the towel into the tub and then the kids got out of the clothes bearing the day’s accumulated grime – but I did briefly have no laundry to do. None.

Other people may think this is a weird thing to worry about, but you have to understand my life. There is ALWAYS laundry in the pile, there are ALWAYS dishes in the sink. On a good day, only a couple of dishes and a very small heap of waiting laundry, but I never actually see the bottom of the hamper. Yesterday, it stared at me, and I stared back into its abyss. It was a little frightening, actually.

People always ask how I get it all done, which is actually kind of funny, because I really am sort of a slacker. Slacker housekeeping, however, is one of the ways I find time for everything else. I just don’t worry about it, as long as it doesn’t get too out of control. i’m just not used to the sudden onset of tidiness.

The reason for my apocalyptic cleanliness was a string of 80 degree days – in March, in upstate NY. The normal average daytime high for this season is 46 degrees – we’ve been a solid 30+ degrees above normal. Last night, with a low of 56, it was too warm to sleep comfortably when we first went to bed even with the down comforter off – and we had the windows open and the fan on.

Warm, dry sunny days like these are dream days for drying laundry – a load tossed on the line at 8am is dry by noon or one, and there’s plenty of time to do another. Thus, the miracle of the laundry.

We’re also having the miracle of the fruit trees. This morning the apricot trees burst into bloom – more than a month early. This is awfully pretty, but not necessarily good news, given that we’re two months to our last frost date.

The prediction is that on Monday or Tuesday we’ll drop (for a few days) back to normal temperatures, with nights in the 20s. If it freezes that hard, my apricots will be toast (sprinklers will protect from a light frost, but if the lows are in the low 20s as predicted, even that won’t help).. I’m hoping the peaches hold off on their impending bloom for a few more days until we’re past that cold spell.

It is always impossible to distinguish between weather and climate, and I’m not making any claims here, other than humorous ones about my laundry. It is hard for a gardener like me not to be gleeful in some measure – I have daffodils, warm dirt, tiny spinach leaves, baby rabbits, clean laundry – what’s not to love?

But just like there’s some vague part of me that worries when the laundry pile gets empty – it is nice, but not NORMAL at my house, it is hard to love with a whole heart this world, whether this warming is momentary or meaningful. The long term predictions for my place echo in my head – like Georgia, only drier, by the end of the century. If we aren’t having a Georgia spring, we are certainly having a Virginia one, and isn’t without consequence.

I don’t know that I expect the fruit growers to have a full crop this year – tough on them if they do lose it, since everyone who produced anything after late August last year lost pretty much their whole crop. The previous year we had hail in May, which was tough on a lot of apple growers – a third year’s lost crop will knock a lot of them out of business.

There are birds back I’ve never seen in March – but their food sources may not be as premature. The ground is dry in March – there’s no melt-off to moisten the spring. Our total winter snowfall was less than 20 inches – a third of our norm. That’s ok right now – the unbelievable fall rains (we had 28 inches of rain in two weeks last fall) have left us in good shape – for now. But we are starting out drier than I ever remember. And what happens if the 20+ degrees about normal temperatures we have seen consistently since late fall continue into summer? 30 degrees above normal is terrific in March in many ways. It will not be so desirable in July – and this isn’t a short term temperature bump. We had green grass and leaves on trees into December, winter didn’t really come until January and then was warm and brief. Our weather has been abnormal for a longish time now.

Now warm years happen – I’ve seen a lot of them. Six years ago I remember it was nearly 70 degrees and my friend Jesse was shovelling rapidly melting snow off the driveway as we celebrated my son’s birthday. The difference was that we still had snow on the ground, that the daffodils weren’t in bloom, the birds weren’t all back – this was a warm spell before spring, not spring itself.

Again, it is hard to mind, and I don’t even pretend. I’m in my glory in the dirt, the children are outside moments after they awaken and troop in dirty and sweaty at the end of the day talking about frogs and snakes they’ve seen and signs of green, birds identified and buds on trees. What’s not to love? My laundry pile was empty, which means I can go outside and play in the dirt myself with the sun on my back. It is awe-inspiring, joyous, delightful. Who knew doom could be so sweet?

But that gaping hole in my hamper is just a teensy bit worrisome too.