This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
Very erroneous opinions are entertained, by even intelligent people, respecting this section of country, so far as its climate and the species of the animal and vegetable kingdoms are concerned. A series of observations, embracing a period of ten years, have disclosed some interesting facts upon these points.
The locality where these observations were made, is situated five miles west of Cleveland, half a mile from the lake, one hundred and fifty feet above its surface, and fully exposed to its influence. During the ten years, the temperature has in no instance fallen below zero; while at Columbus, Marietta and Cincinnati, situated from 120 to 150 miles to the south, it has frequently sunk to 5°, and has occasionally fallen to 10° below, at some of those places. Their latitudes are as follows, to wit: Point of observation near Cleveland,
North,................................. 41° 81'
Columbus,.......... 89° 57'
Cincinnatti,.......... 89° 5' 54"
The more tender vegetation is usually cut down in all northern Ohio - a few localities excepted - within five days of the 25th of September. The lake shore is an exception. Dahlias, maize, and sweet potatoes are generally killed simultaneously here and at Cincinnati - never before the 25th of October, and sometimes not until late in November. In one instance, at least, the lake shore escaped two weeks later than did Cincinnati.
At the present moment, October 25th, vegetation is as verdant and thrifty as it has been at any time during autumn, though it was cut down throughout the West generally several weeks since.
The foliage of the fruit and forest trees, having subserved its purposes, is falling without the intervention of frost, and the wood of the more tender trees, such as the peach and cherry, has attained a maturity that will render it sufficiently hardy to withstand the impressions of cold during winter. This occurring annually, gives to those trees a degree of vigor, health, and productiveness, not to be met with in localities where their growth is suddenly arrested by frost, at a period when they are immature.
In the middle and southern sections of Ohio, spring sets in during the month of March - perhaps earlier. The warm winds blowing up the valleys of the Mississippi and Ohio, in conjunction with other causes, bring forth vegetation earlier; but cold weather and disastrous frosts too often follow.
While these changes are progressing in those parts of the State, winter will remain steadfast at this point. Little advancement will be made by spring, so long as any considerable bodies of ice float upon the lake, even as low down as Buffalo. No sooner do they disappear than spring sets in with a reality, and vegetation puts forth with sub-arctic rapidity.
The lake rapidly imbibing heat at this season, becomes a safeguard against any subsequent vernal frost. Its influence was manifested in a satisfactory manner, early in the present season. On the 1st of May, spring seemed to be fully established; fruit trees had blossomed, and in some localities young fruits had formed. The morning was cold and the temperature declined during the day and evening. At 2 o'clock P. M., it was 48° Fahrenheit; at 7, 84°; and at 9, 32°. The atmosphere was calm and clear, indicating to an inexperienced observer the approach of a destructive frost At 10 o'clock F. M., it had risen to 40°; a heavy cloud of haze hung about twenty degrees above the lake and soon overspread the whole horizon. The morning of the following day was warm and misty; by 12 o'clock M., it was clear and spring-like.
Not a fruit-germ was injured on the lake shore. A different state of things occurred throughout the West and South-West, where no local influences interposed. The temperature steadily declined, without intermission, during the day and night, down to about 26°. The day following was cold and blighting, and fruits were generally destroyed.
The modes by which the lake exerts its influence on such occasions, do not appear to be uniformly the same at different times.
On the approach of a cold night, as in the instance above noticed, the warm emanations condensing may give off caloric, and obscure the atmosphere with haze, mist, or clouds, when no frost will occur.
Under circumstances apparently similar, on the approach of a cold night, neither haze, mist, or clouds may form, but a stiff breeze springs up, and the stars become unusually brilliant The thermometer vacillates between 32° and 38°, rising with the gusts of wind, and falling during the intervals of calm. Then no frost will appear.
Again, none of these modifying causes may intervene, but the temperature may fall below freezing point, ice form on the surface of water, and the expanded fruit, leaves and blossoms congeal. Under such circumstances, the first rays of the rising sun the next morning will be arrested by a haze, which will soon thicken, and before noon a warm rain will probably fall. The frost will be abstracted so gradually from frozen vegetation as not to impair its vitality.
These contingencies have all occurred within the period of our observations. The year 1834, proved an exception. - The general cold prevailed over the local warmth of the lake; freezing weather continued two or three days, and fruits were cut off, even on the shore of the lake.
In autumn, this great body of water begins to part with its warmth to the colder incumbent atmosphere, and the process continues during the winter. While its pro. gress is most rapid, strong southerly winds prevail at the earth's surface, while volumes of clouds, at a high elevation, may at the same time be moving rapidly in an opposite direction.
These counter-currents have sometimes given origin to a phenomenon in the city of Cleveland, not well understood by all of its good citizens. The vane of the lofty spire of the Baptist church, standing on a high ridge of ground, may point steadily to the north, while that on the low cupola of the First Presbyterian church, situated on a less elevated plateau, may be directed to an opposite point of the compass, with a stiff southerly breeze at the same time.
Cool north winds begin to prevail about the middle of October. The emanations from the lake then begin to condense and pass off to the south, in the form of thick clouds, without discharging, at first, much rain. About the 20th of October, the cold from the north seems to gain the ascendancy; squalls of rain, hail and rounded snow appear alternately, with intervals of clear and warm weather. These squalls always precede the autumnal frosts. Our gardeners feel no apprehension for their tender vegetables till these premonitions have appeared.
Common observations, as well as the more sure test, the rain-gauge, show that larger amounts of vapor from the lake are carried south, condensed in the form of rain and snow, than fall in this vicinity.
During winter, comparatively little snow falls, and still less accumulates here, though it may be abundant on the higher grounds, thirty or forty miles in the interior.
This region is also not so frequently favored with showers in summer, as the central portion of the State. Long and severe drouths often prevail, but they are in part counteracted by moisture in the atmosphere. This quality sustains vegetation, and also imparts a freshness to the atmosphere during the hottest days of summer, very observable on approaching the lake from the interior. During that season it is peculiarly pleasant and invigorating to invalids, and equally harrassing to them during the spring season.
The indigenous vegetation of this vicinity is of rather a southern type - shown by the absence, in a great measure, of evergreens, and the occurrence of more southern genera, as the Cercis, Hex, AEsculus, Nelumbium, Gleditschia, Magnolia, etc. Eliott's Botany of South Carolina and Georgia has been found to be a convenient hand-book for investigating our flora. On the other hand, strange hyperborean plants are frequently found, which have been washed down from the far Northwest, through the chain of great lakes.
Many of our birds are species whose most northern ranges of migration have been assigned many degrees south of this, by ornithologists. The hooded, Kentucky, yel-low-throated-wood, coerulean, and prairie warblers, annually rear their young in this vicinity. Trail's fly-catcher, and the piping plover, have been repeatedly seen here, and the purple ibis is an occasional visitor. The list might be greatly extended.
Great numbers of the Sylvicolae semi-annually congregate here, during their migrations, and seem to make it a resting-place, both before and after passing the lake. More northern species occasionally resort here during winter for the purpose of obtaining food, or are driven here by storms; such are the pine-grosbeak, and the white owl. The Bohemian wax-wing visits us almost every winter, and sometimes in large flocks. The pinefinch is described, by some ornithologists, as resorting to the United States only at long intervals, and during winter. It visits our gardens and grounds in numerous flocks every season, early in July, and remains here till the ensuing spring. The young, at their first appearance, still retain much down about their plumage, and cannot have been long absent from their nests. The food of these birds is Aphides during summer, and at other times small seeds of grapes, and other vegetables.
The insect tribes show still more strikingly southern affinities. The Papilio Cres-phontes, figured and described by Boisduval and Le Conte, as the Papilio Thoas, has been repeatedly taken here: though it has been considered as exclusively southern in its resorts. In the South, the larva feeds on the orange and lemon; here, Major Le Conte informs me, it lives on the Hercules-club.
The Papilio Ajax and Papilio Marcellus have also been described as southern insects; and the late Mr. Doubleday located the former exclusively in Florida, and fixed the most northern limit of the latter in Virginia. Still they are common at this point, and subsist in the larva state, on the pawpaw. An undescribed species of Libythea has been taken in Northern Ohio; it has been found, also, in South Carolina, and is without doubt legitimately a southern species.*
The Chaerocampa tersa, an elegant miller, was taken in our garden, in the month of May last. Dr. Harris describes it as a native of South Carolina, where it feeds on a species of plant which does not grow at the North.+ The food it finds as a substitute has not been ascertained.