The Stars: By this time in February, Procyon, the largest star of Canis Minor, replaces the Dog Star due south near 10:00 p.m. Above it, the twins of Gemini, Castor and Pollux, tell of Early Spring. To their right, Orion and the Milky Way have shifted deep into the west, and the Big Dipper has moved well into the northeastern sky - up from its low December and January position, and its pointers, the outside stars of the Dipper, are easily found. By midnight, the first stars of Middle Summer's Hercules appear in the northeast.
The Shooting Stars: No major meteor showers occur this week.
Weather Trends: in one of the most radical weather changes of the year, the weekly chances for an afternoon in the 60s swell from last week's one in ten to five in ten. Although below-zero temperatures can occur at this time of the year, February's third quarter is the second-last period of Early Spring in which such cold might be expected (March's first week is the very last). The average amount of snowfall for this week is ordinarily the lowest of the month in Clark County. The passage of the February 20 cold front marks the end of the snowiest part of the year.
The Natural Calendar: This week of February brings more substance to the natural history of the year, an increase in the number of flower, foliage, insect and bird sightings and bird calls, a weightier accumulation of change than that of last week. Such an accumulation contributes a little more to the seasonal heritage of each region, adds to the composite of time that helps to define the cycles of passage. What happens along the 40th Parallel in Springfield is repeated in countless other locations clustered along that marker, revealing what has already happened in Tennessee, and forecasting the future for Wisconsin.
Fish, Game, Livestock and Birds: Fish may be most active with the Moon overhead in the late morning and early afternoon, especially when the February cold front approaches. At night, skunks wander lawns and streets looking for food and mates. By about the tenth week of the year, their breeding cycle comes to a close, their odor ceding to visual and auditory markers of the new season: the robin chorus before dawn, emerging pussy willows, rising daffodil spears, blooming snowdrops and aconites. Red and silver maples blossom, introducing welcome color to the Early Spring landscape, as well as offering pollen for early bees.
In the Field and Garden: Throughout the county, the ground temperature is moving above 35 degrees. That means the pastures are starting to grow again.
Under the dark Moon, seed bedding plants and early vegetables. Plant onions in the ground as soon as the soil is properly prepared.
Marketing Notes: February 27 is Dominican Republic Independence Day: Areas that have a sizable population of residents from the Dominican Republic may show an increase in sales of lambs and kids that weigh between 20 to 35 pounds.
The Almanack Horoscope: During this new Moon period, be mindful of mood changes. Often pulse and blood pressure rise at new Moon time. People and animals may bleed more easily. An uptick in violence frequently occurs, and psychic phenomena are said to increase. A few studies suggest that more males born after full Moon, more females after new Moon
February 21, 2014: After a night of rain, most of the snow and ice has melted, and the yard is flooded. Skunk odor again around the house. Snowdrops have grown some under the snow, and tips of daffodils and crocus are just barely visible. The barometer just started to rise at dawn, and the wind shifted to the west. I heard no birds at first this morning, even though Bella and I came upon two skunks in the Phillips Street alley at 7:00. Ten minutes later, a cardinal was chipping and the song sparrow sang intermittently. Crows didn't call until 7:15. As the snow melted in the circle garden today, I found that daffodil foliage had pushed up even while the snow cover remained for weeks. The same thing in the front garden: crocus and snowdrops were not inhibited by the cold.
February 22, 2016: A soft morning, 45 degrees and cloudy, windless. At a little after 9:00, Jonatha sent a photo of a honeybee on an aconite, and when I was talking to Ann on the front porch, we watched a honeybee in one of my violet crocuses. Then at 11:00, Ed called to say he had honeybees in his "thousands of snowdrops" and aconites and crocuses. And when Jill and I walked after lunch, we saw more clumps of violet crocuses, more honeybees!
OTHER POOR WILL’S ALMANACK COLUMNS
Moonlight guides all night this week
Another super blue moon appears on Jan. 31
Time to seed bedding plants
Start counting pussy willow
Poor Will’s Almanack for 2018 is still available. Order yours from Amazon, or, for an autographed copy, order from www.poorwillsalmanack.com. You can also purchase Bill Felker’s new book of essays, “Home is the Prime Meridian,” from those websites.