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Poor Will's Almanack: March 6 - 12, 2012

Flickr Creative Commons user bbodien
Daffodil blossom

Poor Will’s Almanack for the Fourth Week of Early Spring.

Daffodil blossoms are the outriders of the fourth week of Early Spring, a sign that Virginia bluebells have come up from winter ground and that raspberry bushes are developing fresh leaves. As you drive the freeways or the backroads, you may see wild onions are getting lanky, a sign that the foliage of Middle Spring's wildflowers is growing back in the woods and fields: Jacob's ladder, ragwort, leafcup, spring beauties, wood mint, ground ivy, catchweed, moneywort, waterleaf, hemlock, and parsnip.

When daffodils come out, chickweed and dandelions flower in the alleys. Earliest henbit blossoms in the gardens.The pods of last summer’s dogbane open in the fields. The buds of the quince have become deep red, and forsythia buds are becoming brighter, anticipating their flowers, which will blow no later than two weeks from the first daffodil.

In the Ohio Valley, wolf spiders hatch in the gray fields when daffodils bloom. In the Deep South, daffodils accompany the peak of azalea bloom, and the peak of desert wildflower blossoms in the Southwest. Ducks arrive in their mating plumage throughout the East. Cherry trees bud in Washington D.C.'s fourth week of Early Spring, about the same time that coltsfoot flowers in the hills of West Virginia.

And perhaps most dramatic of all, when all the daffodils come into bloom, then the great robin chorus begins in the darkness of the early mornings.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the fifth week of early spring. In the meantime, watch for daffodils, listen for robins before dawn.

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Bill Felker has been writing nature columns and almanacs for regional and national publications since 1984. His Poor Will’s Almanack has appeared as an annual publication since 2003. His organization of weather patterns and phenology (what happens when in nature) offers a unique structure for understanding the repeating rhythms of the year.