March 11-17, 2019
Up from the sea the wild north wind is blowing
Under the sky’s gray arch;
Smiling, I watch the shaken elm-boughs, knowing
It is the wind of March.
-John Greenleaf Whittier
The Cabbage White Butterfly Moon enters its second quarter at 6:27 a.m. on March 14, favoring a few days of relatively gentle weather until the moon reaches perigee, its position closest to Earth, on March 19 at 3:47 p.m. and then turns completely full at 8:43 p.m. on March 20.
Don’t expect mild weather with the arrival of equinox on March 20. The full moon with perigee (a “near” supermoon) pretty much guarantees cruel conditions. The likelihood of fishing success increases late in the day as the barometer falls in advance of the March 14 and 19 cold fronts.
With equinox, the chances of highs in the 20s fall below 5 percent for the first time since the middle of December, but March 18 brings the greatest chance of frost in the entire month – a full 90 percent chance. March 20 is typically the wettest day of the week, with a 60 percent chance of precipitation and the most thunderstorms since autumn.
March 21 is the driest, with just a 25 percent chance. It also brings the most sunshine of any day in the third week of March; 70 percent of those days are clear to partly cloudy. Only two other March days get so bright: 7 and 15.
The natural calendar
March 11: Crows are pairing and selecting nesting sites. Nettle tops are ready to pick for greens. Chickweed and dandelions flower in the woods. Ducks arrive from the south in their most attractive mating plumage. Pods of the dogbane open.
March 12: White tundra swans usually arrive along Lake Erie at this time of the month. In Washington, D.C., the florets of cherry trees are beginning to show in average years.
March 13: The sun reaches 90 percent of the way to equinox today. Honeysuckle leaves are opening. Wolf spiders hatch in the sun. Earliest henbit blossoms. Day lily foliage is 4 inches tall.
March 14: Before dawn, all the constellations that ride the Milky Way into summer lie in the east. To the far north, Cassiopeia zigzags towards Cepheus, the house-like constellation just east of the North Star. Following the Milky Way, find Cygnus, the Northern Cross, shining above you. Below Cygnus, is Aquila, with its brightest star, Altair.
March 15: Flickers and purple martins migrate to the region. Lawn growth is now perceptible two weeks before grass is usually ready to cut.
March 16: Look for the purple blossoms of grape hyacinths, and color on the earliest tulips. Skunk cabbage leaves grow big and fat. Snowdrops, aconites and snow crocus decline as peony stalks reach at least 2 inches above the mulch.
March 17: This week of early spring is marked by the spiraling of the male titmouse in his mating ritual, the emergence of honeybees, the early courting calls of flickers and pileated woodpeckers, the yellowing of goldfinches to about half of their summer color and cardinal song moving up to about 7:20 a.m.
Field and garden
Inspect trees for winter damage. Remove dead and dying limbs. Begin yard cleanup. Onions seeds and sets, potatoes, radishes, beets, carrots and turnips can be sown directly in the ground.
Dig parsnip, horseradish, dock and dandelion root for tonics. Set flats of pansies out-of-doors on milder days to harden them for late March planting. This is the average time for flower and garden shows throughout the East.
Warm-weather crops could be ready to set out on May 1 if you start them this week. Try cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash and all delicate herbs or flowers indoors now. This is also an excellent time for seeding spinach directly in the garden.
Lettuce and other hardy sprouts can be moved to the cold frame. It is 8-9 weeks until tender vegetables can be set out.
In the countdown to spring, it is now:
•Just a few days to daffodil season and silver maple blooming season, and the first golden goldfinches
•One week to tulip season and the first wave of blooming woodland wildflowers and the first butterflies
•Two weeks until golden forsythia blooms and skunk cabbage sends out its first leaves, and the lawn is long enough to cut
•Three weeks until American toads sing their mating songs in the dark and corn-planting time begins
•Four weeks until the Great Dandelion and Violet Bloom and the peak of wildflower season begin
•Five weeks until all the fruit trees flower
•Six weeks to the first rhubarb pie
•Seven weeks to the great warbler migration through the lower Midwest
•Eight weeks to the first cricket song of late spring
•Nine weeks to the first orange daylilies blossom
•10 weeks until the high canopy begins shades the garden
Best of the Almanac
The Way It Was Before?
Now you have heard about skunks in the outhouse, I am sure. Why, a while back it was no surprise to encounter one of those beasts on the way to visit the “little house in back.” And sometimes if you left the door ajar, the skunk would just happen to walk into the business section of the privy, and it would raise a real stink if you frightened it.
With the coming of indoor plumbing, you would think such problems would be things of the past. Most of the time that is true, of course – unless you happen to leave your back door ajar and you have just one bathroom in your house.
Because in the late winter and early spring, skunks are courting, digging up lawn grubs and just plain wandering around. And sometimes they go where they don’t belong.
So anyway, one chilly early morning Daddy went out to check on the lambs and he accidently left the back door open. That must have been when Mr. Skunk just happened to walk right in and apparently got lost, and ended up in our nice indoor bathroom.
The good thing was that the skunk did not spray any of the people in the house. The bad thing was that we had a fierce skunk hater, our golden retriever, Attaboy. And so I woke up to some wild barking and snapping and then terrible skunk smells.
It smelled so bad in the bathroom that we wished we had the old outhouse back. And in fact, we couldn’t use that bathroom for quite a while. In fact, we could barely use the house. I stayed home from school because I smelled like a skunk. Daddy went in to work, but they sent him home. Mama just threw up all day.
How long did it take to get the house back to the way it was before? I’m not sure anything will ever be the “way it was before.”