Enough is enough already. Enough with the snow. Enough with the cold. When is spring going to arrive, and stick around! Given the weather we've had the past few months I'm beginning to wonder: what will our summer be like?
Did you know that there was a year when summer never came? The year was 1816.
What happened to cause the year without summer? It is believed that the anomaly was caused by a combination of a historic low in solar activity with a volcanic winter event, the latter caused by a succession of major volcanic eruptions capped off by the Mount Tambora eruption of 1815, the largest known eruption in over 1,300 years.
Historian John D. Post has called this "the last great subsistence crisis in the Western world." In May 1816, frost killed off most of the crops that had been planted, and on 4 June 1816, frosts were reported in Connecticut, and by the following day, most of New England was gripped by the cold front. On 6 June 1816, snow fell in Albany, New York, and Dennysville, Maine. Nearly a foot of snow was observed in Quebec City in early June, with consequent additional loss of crops—most summer-growing plants have cell walls which rupture even in a mild frost. The result was regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemics, and increased mortality. In July and August, lake and river ice were observed as far south as Pennsylvania. Rapid, dramatic temperature swings were common, with temperatures sometimes reverting from normal or above-normal summer temperatures as high as 95 degrees to near-freezing within hours.
The crop failures of the “Year without a Summer” may have helped shape the settling of the American heartland, as many thousands of people (particularly farm families who were wiped out by the event) left New England for what is now western and central New York and the Upper Midwest (then the Northwest Territory) in search of a more hospitable climate, richer soil, and better growing conditions. According to historian L.D. Stillwell, Vermont alone experienced a drop of 10,000 to 15,000 people, erasing seven previous years of population growth.
I am no meteorologist. I have no idea what our summer will bring. But as a pastor I know what our charge from God is, regardless of the season.
“Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2).