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Views and opinions: Seasonal transitions good time to plan for high-energy projects


March 12-18, 2018

All Nature seems at work. Slugs leave their lair –

The bees are stirring – birds are on the wing –

And Winter slumbering in the open air,

Wears on his smiling face a dream of Spring!

-Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Almanac horoscope

The moon: The Ducks-Scouting-for-Nests Moon wanes through its fourth phase this week, becoming the Golding Goldfinch Moon at 6:11 a.m. on March 17. Rising in the morning and setting in the evening, this moon passes overhead near midday.

The sun: Equinox occurs at 11:15 a.m. on March 20 and the sun enters the middle spring sign of Aries on March 21.

Venus becomes easier to see as March unfolds. Find it due west after sundown in Pisces. At midnight, the Big Dipper is overhead, Orion sets in the west, and Libra (along with Jupiter) rises in the east.

Weather trends

From today through the end of the month, the second major March storm period increases the threat of tornadoes in the South and surprise blizzards in the North.

Seasonal transitions that occur during March and April are often associated with new beginnings. Many studies suggest that these are good months to schedule a little time alone for yourself to review your life and projects. Since the “winter blues” typically lighten up for many people as the sun approaches equinox, this is an especially favorable time to plan what you will do with the greater energy levels you might expect for the next 6-8 weeks.

On the other hand, if you have had a serious or chronic illness through the winter, be especially good to yourself as spring arrives. Although it is traditional to associate April with love and flowers, the fact is that next month brings a radical shift in the appearance and feel of the world – and change can bring stress, which can complicate physical and mental conditions.

Field and garden

March 17 is St. Patrick’s Day, a traditional time to plant peas and potatoes. This week’s new moon offers some of the best lunar seed starting of the entire year for those vegetables, and for almost everything you care to plant. Nine weeks remain until tender vegetables can be set out.

Lawn growth is now perceptible, three weeks before grass is ready to cut. Horseradish, dock and dandelion roots are ready for digging.

Marketing notes: The Easter market continues through the end of the month. Then on April 13-15, immigrants from Cambodia, Thailand and Laos celebrate their new year, increasing the demand for lambs or kids in the 60- to 80-pound range.

The natural calendar: This is often the week that the first mosquito bites and that the box elders and silver maples come into bloom. Foliage of lupine, phlox, columbine, coneflower, yarrow, sage, sweet pea, mallow, wild parsnip, goldenrod, snow-on-the mountain, New England aster, Queen Anne’s lace, pyrethrum, bleeding heart, lambsquarters and evening primrose is coming up across the land.

The mass flowering of violets and dandelions now occurs in the South and will arrive in the lower Midwest in 3-4 weeks. Water striders breed in the ponds and rivers.

Mock orange leafs out beside the new honeysuckle foliage. In the wetlands, ragwort starts to bud when weeping willows glow yellow-green. In the woods, toad trillium pushes up through the leaves.

Fish, game, livestock and birds: Flickers and purple martins migrate. Turkeys start to gobble in preparation for mating time, and the pre-dawn morning robin chorus has begun well up into the northern states. Chickens will soon be laying more eggs. Clean and disinfect the henhouse as spring turns to summer.

Fertilize your pastures several weeks before you let your livestock graze. Keep an eye out for bloat, however, as you let your kids, calves and lambs enjoy the new greenery.

Fish continue to become more active as the weather warms. Learn their habits with the moon overhead in the middle of the day, especially as the March 14 and 19 weather systems approach.

Almanac classics

Pliny’s Amazing Fish Caller

“Dear Poor Will,” writes Mrs. Pliny Fulkner from Kentucky, “you will never believe what I am about to tell you, but I swear it is the honest business, no foolin’.

“It all started one night when Pliny and I went out by the water to catch some catfish. And nothing was happening at all. No bites. No tugs on the line. And Pliny was carving on a piece of maple wood that had a funny kind of hole put into it by a bug or something.

“So when Pliny had the wood carved down to maybe about the size of a pencil, he started to chew on one end of it; then he noticed he could blow through the hole in the wood. He started to blow, but you couldn’t hear any sound.

“But then the fish started biting. We brought in two nice blues and a big channel cat, but then nothing else. No activity. No fish. An hour later, Pliny started to blow on the carved stick again. Wham! Did we see some action!

“And you can guess what we figured out: That Pliny’s piece of wood was a fish caller, and it worked just like a turkey caller or like one of those supersonic bug killing systems. And we have tested it and know beyond any doubt it works.

“Sometimes it takes a while for the caller to produce the desired effect. There are nights we go out to the river and Pliny will blow on that thing for an hour or more before we get a bite. Other times, we get fish right away. Once in a while, we come up with zero, but that’s just the way it is with any fish caller.

“Humans can’t hear the caller (not even dogs can), and there may be more than one way to blow on it, so Pliny figures it will take him a spell to figure out just how to use it so he’ll get the biggest catch.”