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Poor Will's Almanack: March 29 - April 4, 2016

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This week marks the beginning of middle spring and the start of spinach, carrot, beet, turnip, peas, onion and potato planting time throughout the central portion of the United States. Collard and kale and Brussels sprout sets can be set out in the garden. Pansies line the walkways, geraniums sometimes appear on porches.

Middle spring wildflower season gets underway in the first week of middle spring: Violets, bluebells, twinleaf, Dutchman’s britches, bloodroot, purple cress, swamp buttercup and hepatica come into flower.

Cornus mas, spicebush, forsythia and weeping cherry flowering seasons color the lands that straddle the 40th Parallel. Daffodils overtake the dooryards, pacing bright blue squill season, filling in at the end of early spring aconite and snow crocus season.

The first week of middle spring brings American toads and green frogs into song, hatches the first ducklings and goslings, is the first week of barn swallow season and house wren season.

Great pods of sandhill cranes rise from the wetlands of Nebraska riding the high winds into Candada. Night herons, killdeer and plovers migrate into the Northeast. Monarch butterflies migrate as far as North Carolina by the end of the week.

Cornflowers and lupines bloom in Arizona. Indian paintbrush opens in Nevada. Prickly pear cacti blossom in Texas. Spider lilies mark the Louisiana lowlands. On the barrier islands of the South Carolina coast, loblolly pines are pollinating, live oaks are shedding, and yellow jessamine climbs through the swamps. In each location, no matter the longitude or altitude, specific events create time, define home and context, wait for our consciousness to know them.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the second week of middle spring. In the meantime, don’t wait any longer, find the events of spring.

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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.