Poor Will's Almanack: February 28 - March 5, 2012

Feb 28, 2012

Poor Will’s Almanack for the third week of Early Spring.


This week opens the season of early bulbs even in the coldest years. The very earliest bulbs, of course, the snowdrops the snow crocus and the aconites, have already bloomed in the sunniest microclimates. Now it is time for the larger, brighter standard crocus and the small spring iris, the iris reticulata to flower.

When one thing happens, something else is always happening, too. The flowering of those bulbs bears witness to the blossoming of silver maples and the red maples along city streets, the blooming of weedy henbit in the garden, the increasing flow of maple sap, the full emergence of pussy willows, the appearance of woolly bear caterpillars, the full bloom of the pure snow trillium along the rivers, the final bloom of skunk cabbage, the mating songs of red-winged blackbirds in the swamp, the time of pairing up for ducks and geese, the time for killdeer and woodcocks to arrive from the South, and for juncos to depart for the North.


When the early bulbs come in, clover grows back in the pastures and nettle tops are big enough for supper greens; celandine and garlic mustard and sweet rocket grow bushy in the alleys; violet leaves and horseradish leaves sprout in the garden. Honeysuckle leaves unravel on the branches closest to the ground. Buds lengthen and brighten on multiflora roses, mock orange, and lilac. Bleeding heart foliage pushes up from the mulch, and day lily leaves can be as tall as crows. Buds on the daffodils foretell the next season of flowering bulbs and the deepening of Early Spring. Walleye, bass and bluegills have begun to feed, and earthworms breed in the warming rains.


I’ll be back again next week with notes for the fourth week of early spring. In the meantime, look for daffodils, a golden banner of the next phase of the year.