Lunar phase and lore
The Maple Blossom Moon, entering its final phase on April 2 at 11:37 p.m., wanes throughout the period, darkening until it becomes the new Apple Blossom Moon on April 10 at 4:35 a.m. As middle spring deepens, more trees come into flower: the box elders, the plums, the ashes and the pears.
Forsythia flowers in the hedgerows, and the great violet and dandelion bloom begins just as apple trees blossom.
Rising in the middle of the night and setting in the middle of the day, this waning crescent moon will move overhead in the morning, making the time between breakfast and lunch the most promising lunar period for angling and feeding fussy animals and children.
When the barometer drops in advance of the April 2 and 6 cool fronts, fishing and eating should be especially rewarding.
Plant all the seeds you can when the moon is in Capricorn April 2-4 and in Pisces April 6-8.
Venus in Aries is not visible to the naked eye as it follows the sun throughout the month. Mars remains in Pisces, disappearing below the western horizon before dark. Jupiter is the evening star, still in Taurus. Saturn in Virgo rises at dusk and moves across the night sky, visible in the far west near sunrise.
You should be able to plant all your corn as the small constellation Corvus lies along the southern horizon in the evening. If you can’t find Corvus, look straight above you: The Big Dipper is due south of Polaris, its deepest intrusion into the center of the heavens. Far to the east, Vega is rising. To the west, Sirius, the great Dog Star is setting.
Each garden in the United States begins with the same 12 hours of daylight during the third week of March, but as April advances, Northern locations receive their longer day more quickly than Southern locations.
April gives Florida less than an hour extra daylight this month, but it adds almost 1.5 hours to the Northeast and Northwest, and about 70 minutes to the Midwest.
April 1: Don’t forget your boar in all the spring activities. Is he getting enough vitamin E and selenium? If not, he may not be the breeder you need throughout the coming months.
April 2: The April 2 high-pressure system initiates an 11-day period of unsettled weather that brings an increased chance of tornadoes in the South and spring storms to the North. Rain typically precedes this front, and flurries or even major accumulation of snow follow it, making April 3-5 some of the wettest and most turbulent days of the month’s first half.
Although highs above 60 degrees become common in most of the nation during this period, frost continues to strike tender vegetables about 1 night in 4 north of the Border States.
April 3: After the first April front arrives, farmers and gardeners throughout the central areas of the United States typically plant their sweet corn and their head lettuce. This is also the time to seed the last of your bedding plants throughout the country.
April 4: Don’t forget to put in medicinal herbs: plant lavender, marjoram, rosemary, sage and thyme, to increase the milk yield of your does and ewes. Marjoram and rosemary will sweeten the taste of your milk and add a measure of health to both the ewe and doe that produces it – and to the person who drinks it.
April 5: April is a fine time to plant late summer and autumn grasses and legumes in order to extend your grazing season. And remember to seed cabbages; they promote good digestion in your livestock and in you.
April 6: As the April 6 front approaches, the chances for frost briefly diminish, and the likelihood of highs in the 70s or 80s increases dramatically across the country. Precipitation, however, often puts a stop to field and garden planting.
After the front passes east, the possibility of damage to flowering fruit trees increases in the Appalachians. Early daffodils are sometimes frozen by this front and the next.
April 7: Look for morel mushrooms all along the 40th Parallel, when May apples push out from the ground and cowslip buds in the swamp. That’s when leaves come out on skunk cabbage.
When you see the high canopy budding and greening, listen for wild turkeys to be gobbling. Keep an eye on tulips in the garden; they tell you about the turkeys, too, and they also tell you it is time to mow the lawn.
Great Outhouse Story Contest winners
When the Great Outhouse Story Contest was announced last summer, a prize of $50 was promised to the Grand Prize winner. Poor Will also said he would pay the top five runners-up $7 each, and the other writers, whose outhouse stories appeared in the Almanac, $3 each.
As was promised, so it shall be: The Grand Prize winner of $50 is Marie Walker from Greenwich, Ohio, for “Aunt Cornelia and the Outhouse.”
And the runners-up:
•Pete Jones of Lynn, Ind., for “The Neighborhood Outhouse” (and other fine narratives)
•Mary First from Shelbyville, Ky., for “Outhouse Fritz”
•Gail Border of New London, Ohio, for “Treating the Doctor”
•Lois Newman from Seaman, Ohio, for “An Outhouse Primer”
•Noel J. Brumage from Mitchell, Ind., for “Sudden Fear in the Outhouse”
•Bob Greene from Spring Mills, Pa., for “‘Bear’ Naked in the Ozarks.”
So many other fine outhouse tales graced this contest that it was far from simple to choose the runners-up from among the entries. May the following authors know that they did surpassingly well (and will receive prizes of $3 each): Teresa Steinbrunner from Fort Recovery, Ohio; Patricia John from Celina, Ohio; Mrs. Elaine Moenter from Pemberville, Ohio; Mary Conti from Milroy, Pa.; Donna Dials from Mansfield, Ohio;
Betty Seigneur from Delta, Ohio; Traskie King from Willard, Ohio; Mary Swarey, Belleville, Pa.; Esther Schaeffer from Loudonville, Ohio; Esther Shrock and Evelyn Swinehart from Ashland, Ohio; Alice Yoder from Lewistown, Pa.;
Wilmer Frey from Campbellsburg, Ind.; Gene McCoy from Greensburg, Ind.; N.L Oxey from Creston, Ohio; Michael Durning and Gerald Uszak from New London, Ohio; and Fanny Lindsey and Larry Motel from Greenwich, Ohio.
Thanks and gratitude to all for sharing their experiences in the outhouse! (And if I forgot your name or didn’t print your story, please be in touch.)
Listen to “Poor Will’s Radio Almanack” on podcast anytime at www.wyso.org and follow Poor Will on Twitter: @poorwilsalmanac