It’s time for me to open up and reveal something about myself. I must confess, now that I’m about to write out the words, I’m feeling a little self-concious. But there is no turning back now. Accept me or reject me, the choice is yours.
I never really knew this was an issue for me. I embraced my circumstances as something natural. It wasn’t until I read about it in a book that I wondered, “Am I really that different? Are there others out there who are like me?” So, I’ll take a deep breath and come out of the proverbial closet. I experience nature both ways. I am bi-zonal.
When I began gardening, I never gave my zonal orientation a second thought. Seasons changed. Temperatures fell. Temperatures rose. It was a cycle with which I felt completely comfortable. Over time, however, I began to notice on my drives to and from work that things were not what they appeared to be. For example, each spring I noticed the greening of wild vines and yellowing of forsythia buds along the highways near work — but near home, everything remained barren.
I discovered the truth by accident when I spotted a very detailed Cold Hardiness map. There, staring at me in a rainbow of colors, was the reason for my conflicted feelings. The truth. I work in Zone 7 and I live in Zone 6.
Long Island sits at the southern tip of New York State, jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean (unlike that misplaced island randomly floating in the map to the left). As a child, I was all Zone 7 — growing up in a town along the island’s south shore. That’s the seasonal cycle with which I was familiar, and I assumed (based on other Cold Hardiness maps) that all of Long Island fell in that zone.
But almost 24 years ago, I met Joe and moved further east and there were subtle differences in the weather. We often received more snow in the winter than my family — but I chalked it up to the fact that we lived in the shadow of a hill which is the highest point on Long Island. Not Himalayan or Alpine, but a definite hill.
During the commuting drives, however, the differences were visible. Spring was more drawn out. In autumn, leaves began to change color at home before they changed at work. Something else had to be happening here.
That something else was Zone 6. Somewhere along my commute, I crossed into another zone — some may even say “The Twilight Zone.” There was no parade, no welcoming sign, no sonic boom, no Rod Serling. But when did this other zone appear? Did Long Island always have two zones? Did Zone 6 disappear in the printing process because Long Island was narrow? Or maybe some climatologist moved in next door and made the same commute as me and noticed the difference between home and work?
I may never know the answer to these questions, but embracing my bi-zonality has been heartwarming. Even my family, friends, and coworkers have come to accept it — especially when I tell them that Zone 6 received more snow than their Zone 7 neighborhoods. Now that I live a bi-zonal life, I wouldn’t want to change it. It’s fascinating to be able to see the coming and going of the seasons, especially the seasons of change. They tend to linger. And as a gardener, there is nothing like the rush of seeing the first flush of spring green in Zone 7 and my preparation for it as it commutes to Zone 6. And that in itself is reason enough for a parade.