Last January, Elis were prepping for 18 to 25 inches of snow to blanket campus. This year, yellow flowers are blooming in Branford.

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English Prof. Leslie Brisman noticed the flowers, which he identified as forsythia, outside the window of his Saybrook College office, he said in an email to the News last week.

“Is this a horticultural reminder to all students that what is about to start is the ‘spring’ semester?” Brisman asked. “Or is it Yale’s own answer to Republican deniers of global warming?”

Eric Larson, manager of the Marsh Botanic Gardens on Science Hill, confirmed that the flowers appeared to be forsythia, but said he is not shocked to see them in bloom, given this year’s “rather warm” winter. Forsythia, he said, is more likely to bloom out of season than other flowering plants of the early spring.

“Given a southern exposure — facing south, with walls, dense shrubbery or other protection on its north side — it would not surprise me in the least to see forsythia blooming this time of year,” Larson said.

The color may not last for long, though: temperatures are expected to dip into the 20s tonight and tomorrow, and there’s a chance of light snow this evening.