Poor Will’s Almanack: Desert Wildflower Moon wanes

Before a tip of green showed in any brushy place you could feel spring growing through the sky. The robins came early, cocking heads in the cold. The gray bodies of the goldfinches yellowed, for all the world like pussy buds blooming. And where no other sign held on wood or field, finger twigs of elder and willow and service swelled beneath their hull of bark.

— James Still

Snowdrop Winter often arrives around the 24th, often one of the windiest days of the month, and colder temperatures often return for up to 72 hours. While 50s and 60s each come 5 percent of the time, and 40s are recorded 35 to 40 percent of the years, highs only in the 20s or 30s occur the remaining 50 percent, and chances for a high in the teens appear for the last time this season.

Lunar phase and lore

The Desert Wildflower Moon wanes throughout the week, bringing more flowers into bloom across the Southwest, and entering its final quarter on March 1 at 6:11 p.m. Rising in the evening and setting in the morning, this moon passes overhead in the middle of the night, encouraging after-dark fishing. When the weather systems of Feb. 27 approaches, accompanied by clouds and precipitation, creatures should feed a little more. Lunar position in Scorpio between the 27th and 29th should be ideal for setting in shrubs and trees.

Natural calendar

Today: Average temperatures rise at their spring and early summer rate, one degree every three days, until the second week of June.

Saturday: Sweet corn has been planted along the Gulf coast. Redbuds and azaleas are in full bloom in Georgia, rhododendrons just starting to come in. In the lowlands of Mississippi, swamp buttercups are open, violets and black medic, too.

Sunday: Feeding seasons begin for walleye, sauger, saugeye, muskie, bass and crappie.

Monday: Honeysuckle leaves unravel on the branches closest to the ground. Buds lengthen and brighten on multiflora roses, mock orange, and lilac. Bleeding heart foliage pushes up from the mulch, and daylily leaves can be as tall as crows. Buds on the daffodils foretell the next season of flowering bulbs and the deepening of early spring.

Tuesday: Great flocks of starlings and grackles move across the nation as March begins.

Wednesday: Lupine leaves push out of the ground beside the crocus, snowdrops, and aconites. The earliest blue squills open.

Thursday: Red-winged blackbirds sing in the swamps. Red-tailed hawks, the horned grebe, the common snipe, all types of gulls, and black ducks migrate across the Midwest.

Field and garden

Today: Normal average temperatures break 32 degrees throughout the lower Midwest, and many tulips, hyacinths and lilies of the valley are emerging from the ground.

Saturday: Winter wheat is greening and developing in the fields, offering a patchwork promise of April.

Sunday: Mares show signs of estrus, as the days grow longer. The last of the lambs and kids conceived in middle autumn are born.

Monday: Put in your bare-root plantings, prepare your container garden, and check the pH in your lawn. Cut back the roses and remove the disease-spreading debris.

Tuesday: Pussy willows are often completely open by today, a traditional signal for the end of maple syrup time.

Wednesday: In warm early springs, bee season has started. Honeybees and carpenter bees collect pollen from dandelions, yellow-flowered wild radishes, red maples, henbit, blue toadflax, white clover, and mouse-eared chickweed.

Thursday: Early date for planting most hardy vegetables directly in the garden. Try a first row of radishes, leeks, and peas. Most bedding plants should be started in their flats. Only nine to 10 weeks remain before the most delicate flowers and vegetables can be planted outside, just a month until most hardy plants can be set out.

Journal

Doves were singing at 7:00, crows and a distant cardinal calling, and when I walked Bella, my border collie, in the alley at 8:15, I was surrounded by loud robinsong, cardinalsong, and dovesong. This afternoon, temperatures warmed into the low 40s. In the woods, there was still snow on the paths and on the northerly sides of some of the bigger hills. But coming out onto the pasture, I felt like I was literally walking to the edge of winter. The snow trail quickly tapered to icemelt, and then to mud, and as I walked southeast into the sun, the brown grass caught the light so that the ground turned gold ahead of me, shining with a promise of spring.

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