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As SAD Index drops, winter doldrums shift to spring fever
Poor Will’s Almanack
By Bill Felker

March 20-26, 2006

All things swell…the earth, trees, plants, wood and even iron. Why should not the same thing be true of our minds? We must expand, like the leaves, if we would receive all the cleansing water in our souls.
-Charles Burchfield, Journal, April 12, 1914

The astronomical calendar for the sixth week of early spring:
The Pussy Willow Moon wanes until it becomes the new Tadpole Moon at 5:15 a.m. on March 29. Rising in the morning and setting in the evening, the dark moon will be overhead around noon. A few hours after sundown, Leo and Regulus are directly above the center of the U.S.

The Pleiades and Taurus lead Orion into the far west. The Big Dipper protrudes deep into the center of the sky. By six o’clock in the morning, the stars have become a prophecy of late summer, August’s Vega almost overhead, Hercules a little to its east, the Northern Cross to its west.

Weather patterns
March 24: Expect relatively mild conditions after this front passes through, especially as the low-pressure trough that precedes the March 29th cold front approaches. March 28 is typically one of the warmest days in March, with highs above 60 degrees occurring five days in 10.

March 29: This last front of early spring introduces tornado season to the nation’s midsection, and the likelihood of a thunderstorm is six times greater this week than it was last week. As this front moves across Pennsylvania, a significant chance for a high in the 80s occurs for the first time this year in the lower Midwest. In the warmest years of all, frost can be gone until October or November. Since the new moon occurs this year on March 29, however, expect frost, flurries and wind as March comes to a close.

Natural year
When you hear the robin chorus at 5:30 a.m., then look for wild geranium and columbine leaves growing in the woods. Scarlet cup mushrooms could be swelling in the dark.

When you see the first blue periwinkles open among last year’s fallen leaves, then summer’s lizard’s tail is sprouting in the river mud, and in the Southwest wildflower season is peaking.

When you see golden forsythia flowering, then you know that middle spring has come to your township, and in the woods, the first major wave of wildflowers - the trilliums and bloodroots and Dutchman’s britches and more - will be in bloom.

Look for morel mushrooms when May apples push out from the ground and cowslip buds in the swamp. That’s when leaves come out on skunk cabbage.

Parsnips in bloom will tell you that deer are growing their new antlers and all the rest of your garden weeds are coming in. Cabbage butterflies in your backyard announce that bass and sunfish are moving to spawn in shallow waters.

Those white cabbage butterflies also announce that allergy season is here throughout the nation. During the weeks ahead, trees are in full flower in the Central Plains, the Northeast, the Northwest and the Rocky Mountains. In the southeastern coastal plains, all the grasses are coming into bloom. Pollen from whatever is blossoming to the south or west of you will arrive at your homestead every two to three days.

Cabbage moths also tell you that this is one of the most favorable of all times this spring to seed hardy vegetable and flower seeds directly in the garden. Although several mornings of frost are likely during the next 45 days, even tender sweet corn (at least a few rows) can be planted now for late June or early July harvests.

Mind and body
The S.A.D. Index, which measures the forces that contribute to seasonal affective disorders on a scale of 1 to 100, drops all week, reaching a low of 54 by the end of the month. Most people have now moved from winter doldrums to spring fever, a welcome shift in the body clock.

Since the moon becomes new on March 29 (and becomes much stronger than it is right now), take care of financial and romantic business as soon as possible.

If you work in a nursing home or hospital, expect restless patients as the moon turns new next week. If you’re on the police force or work for the fire department, look forward to a few more calls than usual.

Best fishing
The moon is overhead in the late morning and early afternoon this week. That gives you a chance to sleep in and then get fishing just as the water is warming up around lunchtime.

You should catch the most fish just before the arrival of the March 29th cold front. Then wait a few days and watch for the barometer to start dropping in front of the April 2nd front.

Mom taught me a lesson
By Eunice Hicks, Willard, Ohio

Many years have passed since our family lived in Floyd County, Ky. back in the Depression times. Mom washed clothes all day on an old washboard for three dollars a day down the holler from where we lived. She came home with her fingers all red from washing.

Dad hoed corn all day for four dollars a day to help put food on the table. Times were hard to deal with back then. Dad also picked blackberries, and Mom canned some. There were seven in our family, Dad, Mom and five children. I gathered eggs every evening after school, and Mom took the eggs down to the country store and traded them for what she needed most for food.

We children got up early and got dressed for school when there was school. Mom would put bread and milk in our little four-pound buckets, milk and bread all crammed up together. She gave us all a spoon to put in our pockets to eat our lunch with.

One day when Mom turned her head, I changed my bucket for a bucket of eggs and left my lunch there on the table, gave Mom a quick kiss and said, “See you after school.”

After school, I took my little bucket of eggs to the country store, traded my eggs for a big stick of gum and a big stick of candy. I was standing there talking to a girl chewing my gum as fast as I could, really enjoying it.

What a surprise when Mom walked through the storehouse door and traded her eggs for some food. Then she set her basket down on the floor. She walked over to where the girl and I were talking, took me by the hand and said to me, “Tell the store man you won’t be bringing any more eggs.”

I was so embarrassed! I learned my lesson, and I’ll never forget that day.

Poor Will’s Scrambler
In order to estimate your SCRAMBLER IQ, award yourself 15 points for each word unscrambled, adding a 50-point bonus for getting all of them correct. If you find a typo, add another 15 points to your IQ.


Here is this week’s rhyming Scrambler:


This farm news was published in the March 15, 2006 issue of Farm World.