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Limit personal expectations to best enjoy the springtime
The whole universe is, as it were, a book written by the finger of God, in which
each creature forms a letter. -Louis de Blois
Almanac horoscope Moon time: The Apple Blossom Moon, entering its final phase at 4:57 a.m., continues to wane throughout the week, becoming the new Mock Orange Moon on April 26 at 7:16 a.m. Rising before dawn and setting near sundown, the waning moon will be overhead in the late morning.
Sun time: On April 21. the sun is 75 percent of the way to summer solstice, setting pretty close to half past 8 and making the evenings almost seem like June evenings.
Star time: Now the sky at 11 p.m. is in its prime spring planting position: Castor and Pollux to the west, Leo with its bright Regulus directly overhead and Arcturus dominating the east. The Milky Way fills the western horizon as Orion sets just behind the sun.
Shooting star time: The Lyrid meteor shower peaks after midnight between April 21-23.
Weather time The chance for snow and frost recedes quickly after the April 21 front comes through. Winds and hard rain, however, still threaten new plantings, young kids, lambs and calves. The odds for outstanding field and garden weather improve immensely after the passage of the April 24 front. Seed all the rest of your flowers and vegetables in flats or directly in the garden. New moon on April 27, however, should strengthen this front and the next, so keep a lookout for light frost.
Zeitgebers are events in nature that tell the time of year. Now winter wheat, the pastures and the lawns are the brightest of the year. Winter cress and violets turn some fields gold and purple. Bluebells nod on the hillsides. Bellwort, meadow rue, ragwort, columbine, white violet, winter cress, small-flowered buttercup, large-flowered trillium, wood betony, miterwort and Jack-in-the-pulpit are out. Forsythia flowers turn a darker gold and magnolia petals fall as locusts, mulberries, ash, tree of heaven, ginkgoes, Japanese honeysuckles, wild roses and virgin’s bower leaf out. Grub worms come to the surface of the lawn, and grasshoppers are born in the fields. Weevils appear in the alfalfa.
May apples are a foot tall and buckeye buds have unraveled. Skunk cabbage leaves are more than half-size in the swamps. Ragwort and garlic mustard are forming clumps, seed heads visible, still tightly bunched. Watercress has filled the shallow brooks.
Farm and garden time Farmers seed spring wheat in New England, sugar beets all across the Midwest and cotton along the Gulf. Cabbage butterflies are out laying eggs on the new cabbage, kale, collards and Brussels sprouts. Mulberry, locust, tree of heaven, viburnum and ginkgo send out their first leaves. Grape vines break dormancy.
When you see the first monarch butterflies in your garden and the iris plants start to bud, that’s the time to go out to the garden to hunt flea beetles and leafhoppers. And when you see bumblebees in the dandelions, watch for termites to swarm around your house.
Late peas should sprout quickly if planted now, and even tender garden vegetables should be all right if you cover their sprouts when frost threatens. And cut asparagus and rhubarb and pull the commercial radishes as the moon gets fuller and fuller; they should be fat with lunar moisture. Prepare soil and seeds for new moon planting on April 26. Under the dark moon, destroy tent caterpillars as they hatch; then plant all your remaining root crops.
Spring rains and humidity can increase the risk of internal parasites in livestock. Make use of stool sample analysis to ensure that drenching has been effective. Marketing time: Plan marketing now for Mother’s Day (May 14) and Memoria  Day (May 29). Throughout the coming month, bedding plant sales are at their peak, ideal for selling as well as purchasing flowers for Mom or remembering a loved one.
Mind and body time
It’s so beautiful outside, and you have so much planting and loafing to do, how can you possibly feel bad? Well, some people do have a tendency to feel a little down in the springtime – and there are many reasons why that might be. One reason is that other people – maybe those with more money – seem to have more time to enjoy the fine weather. Or maybe you see young lovers walking around hand in hand, while you are alone at this point in your life. Spring can seem to promise everything, but we are not always able to find fulfillment of those promises in our lives.
If we can combat our jealousy and limit our expectations, however, we take the first steps toward a fulfilling season. Creature time (for fishing, hunting, feeding, bird watching): The dark moon is overhead in the morning, making that the best time for fishing (worst for dieting). As the barometer falls in front of the April 24 cold front, morning fishing and scouting for wild turkeys should get even better.
And as the likelihood of freezing temperatures recedes, more insects appear in the garden – try to identify them and keep track of when they show up. Birders could spot the arrival of the wood thrush, the broad-winged hawk, the king rail, the sora, the common gallinule, plovers and sandpipers.
Almanac classics
Cleaning Up: Recollections
of the Early 20th Century By Naomi Bliss
Switzerland County, Ind.
My family practiced cleanliness much like our neighbors: a bath in a galvanized tub once a week, hair washed every two weeks and a little sponge bath every day. We had no deodorants, so a little talcum or a dusting of soda was helpful.
Most folks only washed clothing once a week, on Monday, so it was worn for several days before we could change. Washing was hard work – water carried from the pump and heated in the copper wash boiler on the kitchen’s wood burning range.
Two tubs were set up, one for washing clothing and one for rinsing. The washboard, a galvanized center in a flat wooden frame, was put in the tub for hot water, and the water was carried by bucket from the range.
Sometimes we bought our bars of soap from the store. Sometimes homemade lye soap was used. White clothing was washed first, and then put in water in the boiler to boil – usually lye had been added to the water.
Colored clothing was put in the cold water, after a good rubbing on the washboard, then wrung and hung on the wire clothesline with wooden pins. The dry clothing was taken off the line, dampened and folded tightly into a large basket for ironing the next day.
Washing day was just that – a long day of hot work. Another long, hot day, using irons heated on the coal range, was necessary in order to get all those clothes
and linens ready to use!