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Poor Will's Almanack: March 31 - April 6, 2020

virginia bluebells
Flickr Creative Commons

Now at the beginning of Middle Spring, when pollen covers the pussy willows, then honeysuckle, mock orange, privet, wild multiflora roses, lilac, black raspberry and coralberry leaves break out from their buds, and that is a signal for cornus mas and lungwort to flower and for mourning cloak butterflies and cabbage moths to navigate the warming days past equinox. A little later come the question-mark and tortoise-shell butterflies and then the white-spotted skippers.

In the last few days of March when the pussy willow catkins start to fall, the archipelago of early spring becomes a dense maze of islets unimaginable at the end of February. In the trees, the finches turn gold. In ponds, the toads are singing. Calves and lambs appear in the fields.  Carp are frolicking in the rivers. Young opossums come out to play. Wasps crawl from their winter crevices.

In the garden, the early tulips unfold. Star of Holland comes in beneath the bright forsythia. Buckeyes unravel. Plums bloom. And just as skunk cabbage starts to produce its foliage, the first tremendous mass of wildflowers suddenly opens all at once on the farthest and mildest border of the early spring archipelago: inflorescence of periwinkle, hepatica, violet cress, harbinger of spring, bloodroot, Dutchman’s britches, bittercress, twinleaf and Virginia bluebell leading now into the endlessly intricate paradise of April

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, look for flowers, any flower means so many others are in bloom.

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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.