|Poor Will’s Almanack
By Bill Felker
May 8-14, 2006
I saw the morning when SPRING walked the land...
Footprints greened the grasses, violets hidden there,
Her smile a warm caress that made the ROBINS sing.
A touch caused buds to swell, lilacs a royal bloom:
A spate of rain, the promise of things to come:
Mother Nature, the LORD’S HANDMAIDEN in the plan of things.
-William Bailiff, Toledo, Ohio
The astronomical calendar for the third week of late spring:
The Mock Orange Moon is full at 1:51 a.m. on May 13. Rising late in the evening and setting before dawn, the full moon is overhead in the middle of the night.
As Leo moves off to the west by 10 p.m., the likelihood of frost diminishes sharply, and tender bedding plants, tomatoes and peppers can be set out - as long as you are prepared to protect them on cooler nights. When Leo has moved well into the southwest, and the Milky Way fills the southeast, then frost should certainly stay away until October.
May 12: Sometimes the weather stagnates between the May 12th front and the May 20th front, creating conditions favorable for the first heat wave of the year.
May 15: This front and the next two are often followed by the “Strawberry Rains,” the wettest time of May in the lower Midwest and the Mid Atlantic states. May 15 is a good target date for having fields planted in order to avoid a serious delay in seeding. Spring rains and humidity can also increase the risk of internal parasites and foot problems in livestock.
When you see poppies in bloom, look for migrating white-throated sparrows, ruby-crowned kinglets, yellow-rumped warblers, magnolia warblers, tanagers, grosbeaks, and orioles.
When tulips are in full bloom in the North, the best of the spring wildflowers have all disappeared in the Southwest. But you can still find prickly pear cacti flowering in the desert.
When mock orange reaches full flower, look for black vine weevils and greater peach tree borers. Then come the rhododendron borers and the dogwood borers!
When all the petals fall from your crab apples, then the great spring dandelion bloom reaches far into the Northeast, trumpeter swans will be laying eggs near Yellowstone Lake, and gosling will be hatching all along the Mississippi.
When multiflora roses come into flower, look for the bronze birch borer to emerge and oystershell scale eggs to hatch.
And when American holly blooms (about the same time as the multiflora roses), then potato leafhoppers will be hopping in the potatoes.
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, peaks at 44 on the day of the full moon, May 13. People who are especially sensitive to lunar phases may experience some irritability around that date, but as the moon wanes and the weather gets warmer, the Index plummets into summer’s safe teens and 20s.
The moon is overhead after dark this week, improving your chances for nighttime success. After the passage of the May 12th and 15th cold fronts however, you may catch fewer fish than you do when these fronts are approaching.
Ronda’s Birthday Surprise
By Susan Perkins, Hardtimes Farm
For our oldest daughter’s birthday, we paid to have her hair permed. Ronda’s hair was long and a golden blond color. She promised to come by the house after she got beautified and let everyone see the results. My family was visiting from Missouri. I planned on catching my city cousin Betty-Ann with my little funny, but she overheard me whispering and giggling in the kitchen and knew I was up to something.
I took the cap off my wood cookstove and rubbed the eyes of the binoculars across the black soot that had built up. I put the binoculars back on the windowsill in the kitchen where they always stayed. A lot of turkey and deer have been seen from that window, so the binoculars always stood ready. Next to them sat another pair of normal binoculars to be used as “bait.”
As soon as Ronda arrived, Donna ran to the window and looked out with the good binoculars. Everyone in the room followed her gaze, pretending to see something out the window. Ronda ran across the room, grabbed the trick binoculars and put them to her eyes. When she took them down, there were two perfect black rings around her baby blue eyes. Everyone started laughing, but she didn’t know why.
My dad kept telling her, “Ronda, I never saw you so pretty.” She would touch her hair and smile, saying “thank-you,” causing another round of laughter.
When she got home and saw herself, she called me on the phone and said, “Oh, you’re so funny ... good thing I have a sense of humor!”
It wouldn’t have mattered; we caught a fish any way you look at it.
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 May 3, 2006 issue of Farm World.