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Poor Will's Almanack: March 15 - 21, 2016

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In this second-last week of early spring, when the robin chorus begins before sunrise, then pollen forms on pussy willow catkins, and the first mosquito bites, then the first spring beauty is budding, and the foliage of yarrow, mallow, phlox, columbine, coneflower, waterleaf, goldenrod, buttercup, snow-on-the mountain, New England aster, and Queen Anne’s lace is coming up.

Robins have found their way to every yard, knowing that worms will be waiting for them, at the same time that the tufted titmouse courts in spirals, when flickers and purple martins are migrating and willow trees glow yellow green and morck orange leafs out, pacing the new privet foliage, the lilac, black raspberry, multiflora rose, clematis and coralberry foliage.

When robins sing before dawn, the first blue lungwort flowers open and bleeding hearts are getting bushy. The first tulip bud has formed. The early leaves of honeysuckle bushes green the countryside, and the tree line is tinged with red from flowering maples. In the garden, pale snow-on-the-mountain is pacing the waterleaf in the wetlands to the mating songs of red-winged blackbirds in the swamps and the gobbles of gobbling turkeys in the deep woods. And if you see or hear just one of these events, one piece of fifth week of early spring, you know that all these other things - and so many more - are happening around you.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the final week of early spring. In the meantime, watch for the first butterflies to emerge in your yard – called forth by the robins.


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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.