Moon Time: The Mock Orange Moon waxes throughout the first third of the month, becoming full on May 10 at 4:42 p.m. Rising in the afternoon or evening, and setting before sunrise, this moon will shine gibbous through the night
Sun Time: The night continues to shorten quickly as summer nears. On the 9th of this month, the sun reaches three-fourths of the way to summer solstice.
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Planet Time: Venus continues to ride Pisces as the morning star in the east. Mars keeps its position in Taurus, close to the western horizon at dusk, almost touching red Aldebaran on May 7 (Aldebaran being the twinkling red object).
Star Time: If you check the stars at about 10 p.m., they will tell you that the danger of frost is almost past. Arcturus still hangs a little to the east of the center of the sky, but as that star shifts into the west, it pulls the chances for a freeze with it.
The May 7 Front: With the arrival of the second major high pressure system of the month, there is a slight possibility of a return of Lilac Winter, and frost is frequent around May 8. The period of May 8 through 14 historically brings more storms to the nation than any other period except the days between May 17 and 24.
The May 12 Front: This is one of the last frost-bearing fronts to move across the nation. Although gardens in the North are not immune to a freeze throughout the entire month of May, the greatest danger of loss from low temperatures recedes quickly as this high moves out over the Atlantic.
Zeitgebers: Events in Nature that Tell the Time of Year: The center of late spring is already closing the forest and woodlot canopy. Sycamores, osage, cottonwoods and oaks are leafing out, and white mulberries and buckeyes blossom. Along the sidewalks, purple iris, orange poppies, sweet William, and florescence of bridal wreath spirea and snowball viburnum have appeared.
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Serviceberry trees have small green berries. In the alleys, scarlet pimpernel comes in beside the thyme-leafed speedwell. Daisies unravel, and the bells of the lily-of-the-valley emerge from their green sheaths. Wood hyacinths and star of Bethlehem are at their best.
Columbine is open on the cliffs, Solomon’s seal, false Solomon’s seal, bellwort, wild phlox, trillium grandiflorum, wild geraniums, golden Alexander, wood betony, early meadow rue, swamp buttercups, ginger, Jacob’s ladder, water cress and golden seal are blooming.
Farm and Garden Time: When you see tea roses and privets blooming, then you can plant your tomatoes with hardly a thought for a damaging freeze (but keep protection handy), and when the high tree line is alive with green and golden budburst, then plant your soybeans.
When lilac flowers fade, look for hawthorn lace bugs and hawthorn leafminers to emerge in the hawthorns. Look for pine needle scale eggs, cooley spruce gall adelgid and Eastern spruce gall adelgid eggs to hatch, too.
The waxing moon and rising soil temperatures this late spring invite commercial cabbage planting and completion of the planting of oats and other spring grains. Asparagus is fresh for cutting as it shoots up in the sun throughout the northern states.
Marketing Time: Father's Day is June 25. Plan to have strawberries and raspberries ready to sell. Maybe tomatoes, too!
Mind and Body Time: As seasonal affective disorders disappear, most people find late spring one of the most pleasant times of the year. Low seasonal stress leaves your mind and body free to focus on summer projects. Dieting continues to be much more successful than it was in the winter, and fitness resolutions made in May are typically easier to keep than those made in the dark time of winter. Spring lethargy is the downside of fine May weather, however, so be prepared to deal with indifference toward school or work.
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Creature Time (for fishing, hunting, feeding, bird watching): The moon moves overhead in the afternoon this week, improving your chances for catching fish during that time. When the barometer begins to fall in advance of the May 7 and 12 cold fronts, and the wind blows from the south, fishing and scouting for wild turkeys should get even better. Birders may sight willets, dunlins, nighthawks, Eastern kingbirds, catbirds and a great wave of all kinds of warblers and vireos.
I was waiting for the robins this morning. They started just a few minutes before 4:00. The sky was so clear, the Summer Triangle overhead. A screech owl called in the back yard — from the same location as the owls have through the years — at 4:20, but the robins dominated the chorus until 4:45 when cardinals, song sparrows and doves came in within a minute or two of one another. I didn’t notice house sparrows chirping until 5:20.
As I walked my dog in the light of the high third-quarter moon, I could see black walnut flowers fallen to the sidewalk. The day became the warmest so far this year, cloudless and intense. The wisteria came into bloom and the first wood hyacinths. The red crab apple tree is in full flower and the red azalea buds are soft and tender, ready to open any minute.
At the pond, toads were singing, and the dandelion bloom was holding through the fields.
Early buds have formed on the tulip trees, the oaks are flowering: sawtooth, scarlet, shingle and red with catkins, chinquapins and pin oaks holding back. Sugar maple leaves are a third to half size, pecans leafing. Field pennycress in full bloom by the creek that flows into the fields across the road.
In all of this I hold on to the need to stop spring at this one place, to name and hold it here, to collect around me this exact grace, to understand its impermanence, but in a seizure of denial to allow myself to be only here.