By Bill Felker
The Snows are thaw’d, now grass new clothes the earth,
And Trees new hair thrust forth.
The Season’s chang’d, and Brooks late swoln with rain,
Their proper bankes contain. — Sir Richard Fanshawe, from Ode IV, 7 of Horace
The Moon and the Meteors
The new Cows Switching Their Tails Moon waxes throughout the week, reaching apogee, its position farthest from Earth on April 14 at 1 p.m. and coming into its second quarter at 1:59 a.m. on April 20. Rising in the late morning to early afternoon and setting after midnight, this moon passes overhead through the afternoon and evening, encouraging creatures to feed more at that time, especially as the cold fronts of April 16 and 21 approach.
The Lyrid meteor shower begins on April 16 and peaks on April 21-22. Expect up to 20 shooting stars per hour in Lyra, almost overhead in the eastern sky after midnight. The Eta Aquarid meteors run from April 19 to May 28, peaking in May. Find them low in the east before dawn while you are still looking for the Lyrids.
The chances of a high above 50 degrees are 85 percent on almost every day during April’s third quarter, and temperatures above 60 come at least half the time.
Beginning on the 16th of the month, a major increase in the average daily amount of sunlight takes place: a rise from early April’s 50/50 chance of sun or clouds up to a brighter 70 percent chance of clear to partly cloudy conditions. High-pressure systems arriving on the 16th and 21st bring increased chances of rain, followed by improved chances of sun. Beginning on the 20th, the chances of an afternoon high in the 70s or 80s jumps from an average of 25 percent to 45 percent.
(Events in Nature that Tell the Time of Year)
Bleeding hearts have hearts. Redbuds are turning a deeper pink and purple. American toads are chanting, and hummingbird moths and bumblebees come out to sip the flowering of dandelions.
This week usually brings full bloom to apple trees, redbuds and dogwoods along the 40th parallel.
Grape vines are leafing out. The juniper webworm emerges, and Eastern tent caterpillars may begin to weave webs on flowering fruit trees.
Grasshoppers are born in the woods and hedgerows. Locusts, mulberries, ash, tree of heaven, and ginkgoes get their foliage. The first daddy longlegs spiders are hunting.
Now the major time of mid-season daffodils and tulips begins across the region. Aphids appear almost everywhere. Pheasants and woodcocks nest along the fencerows.
By this time of the year, honeysuckles and spice bushes have developed enough to turn the undergrowth pale green.
Between now and the first of May, most dandelions go to seed at lower elevations in the central states.
Frogs mate at the same time as cherry trees bloom. When you see magnolia, dogwood and Bradford pears in flower, and daffodils are at their peak, it’s time to put in barley, band seed alfalfa and top-dress winter wheat.
Mind and Body
The S.A.D. Index, which measures seasonal stress on a scale from 1 to 100, falls slowly through the 30s, reaching a gentle 28 on April 20, its lowest reading so far this year. Only a very few people experience S.A.D. between now and the Dog Days of July – when heat may keep you inside and contribute to a summer cabin fever.
In the Field and Garden
Pastures fill with blooming cress. Flies bother the cattle. In the Great Lakes region, commercial cabbage transplanting is underway.
Throughout the country’s midsection, black and gray morel mushrooms come up at this time of the month, the same time that orchard grass is ready to harvest. When mosquitoes become troublesome, the morel season is about over.
In your lawn, thyme-leafed speedwell flowers at the same time as morels appear.
Pastures turn gold with the major dandelion bloom of the year - a time which coincides with the movement of largemouth bass to shallow water.
Now farmers sow spring grains along the Canadian border, soybeans in Mississippi, and sugar beets in the Midwest.
When the tree line starts to turn green, weevils appear in alfalfa, and the big field corn planting push begins all across the central states.
By Hallie Moser, Defiance, OH
I am old enough to remember the horse and buggy days, and I also am old enough to remember the first car we had.
My father came in the house and told my mother he was going to Sherwood and buy a car. She told him to buy a new one, not one someone else had. Anyway, one of my brothers took him to town to Moat’s Ford, and he bought a 1918 Ford touring car. They told him how to start and stop the car and sent him on his way.
We lived down a lane, so we all went outside to see him and his new car. He came driving down the lane, and when he got to the barnyard, he leaned back, gripped the steering wheel and yelled, “Whoa! Whoa!”
He finally came to his senses and put on the brakes before he hit the barnyard gate.
We had the car until 1926 and sold it at auction after Dad passed away. It was a good car, and Dad took good care of it.
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