|Poor Will’s Almanack
By Bill Felker
April 24-30, 2006
As you read a man’s purpose in his face, so you learn to read the purpose of the weather in the face of the day.
The astronomical calendar for the first week of late spring:
The Mock Orange Moon enters its second quarter at 12:13 a.m. on May 5. By nightfall, Jupiter has risen into the southern sky with Libra, and Mars has moved deep into the west with Gemini and the remnants of the winter constellations. Not far from Mars, Saturn lies in Cancer. Venus has traveled into Pisces and glows in the east before sunrise.
Now Spica is the star of May nights, Virgo above it, Corvus below. Libra is becoming more prominent in the southeast, Lupus below it, Sagittarius behind it. Arcturus moves overhead, announcing the end of frost throughout most of the continental United States. The Coma Berenices and the Canes Venatici lie inconspicuously below the handle of the Big Dipper.
The Eta Aquarid shower appears across the southeast in Pegasus after midnight. The first and last weeks of May will provide the darkest skies for meteor watching.
April 28: In advance of this first front of late spring, highs in the 90s become possible as far north as Chicago, and the chances for a high in the 80s pass the 20 percent mark at lower elevations along the 40th Parallel. The warmth, however, comes at the cost of rain five years in 10, and the last days of April are typically some of the wettest days of the fourth month’s fourth week.
May 2: The first three days of May are almost always marked by a “Lilac Winter” high-pressure system that chills one of the most fragrant times of the year. During this brief season, frost comes about 10 to 20 percent of the time in the North, but usually stays away in the South.
When daddy longlegs begin hunting in the undergrowth, darners will be out in the swamps and the last chance for frost will be only 10 days away.
When buckeyes bloom, then cliff swallows migrate and the first cycle of cabbage butterflies is at its peak.
When yellow wood sorrel blossoms in the yard and garden, look for ruby-throated hummingbirds to arrive at your feeders.
When buds appear on black raspberries, mock orange and mulberries, then soybean planting is in full swing.
When nettles are waist high at the edge of the woods, then golden seal and Solomon’s seal are blooming deep under the closing canopy.
When you see the pink spirea in bloom, then lettuce and radishes should be big enough for salad.
When oak leaves are the size of a squirrel’s ear, then lamb’s ear, tea roses, and privets will soon be in bloom.
When you see redbud trees getting seedpods, then go looking for horseshoe crabs mating along the Atlantic coastline.
Or listen for the first crickets of the year singing in the sun.
When lilacs reach full bloom, then look for the first lilac borers to emerge. The peach tree borers will be coming soon, too.
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 to the 20s this week, a sure sign that the time of seasonal affective disorders is over for the first half of the year.
The moon will be overhead in the afternoon this week, giving after-lunch improved chances to bring you luck. For even better luck, try the days prior to the arrival of the April 28 and May 2 cool fronts.
Blue racers can kill
A True Memory Story by Anna Monroe Bruce from Fairborn, Ohio
When my mom was a young girl, she and her girl friend in Kentucky were going to Sunday school over the mountain and through the woods, talking to each other as they hurried along.
All at once, her friend screamed again and again, falling to the ground crying: “Get help! Get help!”
Momma ran to the foot of the mountain to the church house where several men were standing. They came to meet Momma. She told them what had happened. One man jerked his knife out of his pocket and they all ran to the girl.
They found her lying unconscious on the ground, her clothes drawn very tightly around her waist. The man took his knife and cut what looked like a cord that was tight around her. That cord turned out to be a snake, and it fell into four pieces on the ground.
The creature was called a blue racer. They are not poisonous, and they do not bite their prey, but this one had had almost squeezed the girl to death by circling her body and drawing tighter and tighter.
They revived Momma’s friend with resuscitation and she lived. But she and my mother did not walk over the mountain and woods to Sunday school any more. They went the long way by the road from then on.
Send your memory stories to Poor Will, P.O. Box 431, Yellow Springs, OH 45387. Three dollars will be paid to any author whose story appears in this column.
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 April 19, 2006 issue of Farm World.