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Poor Will's Almanack: April 10 - 16, 2012

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Poor Will’s Almanack for the third week of Middle Spring

The Great Dandelion Bloom is the most common and the most radical marker for the third week of Middle Spring Of course a few dandelions started blooming in February and March. Now, however, comes the GREAT Dandelion Flowering that begins in the Deep South - where Middle Spring comes much earlier than it does in the North - and it spreads up through the Border States like robins, reaching the 40th Parallel, the lateral midline of the United States in April, and then creeps up to the northern states in May.

Whenever it reaches you, the Great Dandelion Flowering turns lawns and waysides golden with their blossoms and announces the greening of the high trees: the maples, oaks, mulberries, locusts, and ginkgoes sending out their first leaves. It trumpets tulip season and the budding of peonies in the garden. The Great Dandelion Bloom in the alleys and along the freeways lets you know that - if you had time to take to the woods - you could find hepatica, periwinkle, toad trillium, cowslip, rue anemone, and buttercups in flower. In the vegetable garden, you might find fresh asparagus, new herbs for seasoning, maybe lettuce leaves long enough for salad.

And above golden fields of dandelions flowers the more exotic, yet no less powerful, marker of the third week of Middle Spring: all the fruit trees coming in: first the pears put out their white blossoms, then the pink peaches and the cherries and then the roseate and white and red crab apples. Like the seas of dandelions, the pears and peaches and apples reveal the season from New Orleans to Maine and Minneapolis, telling time far better and more beautifully than any paper or digital calendar.

I’ll be back again next week with notes for the fourth week of Middle Spring. In the meantime, watch the dandelions and the fruit trees all come into bloom all across the country.

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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.