This week marks the arrival of Middle Spring, a four-week period during which almost all the field crops are planted and gardeners set out onion sets, broccoli, cabbage, collards and kale.
The Golding Goldfinch Moon is full on March 31. This is the second Blue Moon (that is, the second full Moon in a single month) of 2018. Rising in the evening and setting in the morning, this Moon brightens the night sky wildflower walks in the dark.
If you walk the moonlight before dawn, find Jupiter in the southwest followed by Mars and Saturn along the southern horizon. If you walk at dusk look for Venus, the giant evening star, setting in the far west right after sundown. Orion, in its Middle Spring position, joins Venus. Behind him, high in the southwest, come Gemini and Cancer. Directly overhead, the Big Dipper’s pointers (the “outside” wall of the Dipper) that point directly to the North Star) are positioned almost exactly north-south.
As though to open a great myth, the Earth reaches out to Middle Spring Every year the circular story is about death to life, beginning so quietly in the tomb of frost. Every year, the plot is the same, always certain, always beautiful, always about the same length, requiring only a little experience or a little faith to see it through to the climax of April.
And now faith is superfluous because hepatica, bloodroot, bluebells, Dutchman's breeches, twinleaf, toothwort and spring beauties all burst into bloom. Ragweed sprouts, Leaves grow on skunk cabbage. Buds form on wild raspberries. May apple spears are up in the woods (forecasting morel mushrooms). The first buckeyes, apple and peach trees leaf out.
Gold finches - their breasts all gold – chatter as they flit through the leafing honeysuckles. Cardinals now sing an hour earlier than they sang four weeks ago. Barn swallows arrive as barred owls hatch and grape hyacinths bloom and wood frogs call and black tadpoles swim in the warm shallow pools. The predawn robin chorus becomes even more raucous, birds chasing each other through trees and shrubs, across lawns, tumbling together on the street and sidewalks.
This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the first full week of Middle Spring. In the meantime, it’s full blue moon time. Walk in the light. Embrace the story.