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Views and opinions: Average April is likely to host up to seven major cold fronts

March 25-31, 2019

At dawn the chorus begins. I awake early, and from my bed listen to the announcement of spring, and count the number of bird songs I can hear.

-Eliot Porter

The Cabbage White Butterfly Moon enters its final quarter at 11:10 p.m. on March 27 and wanes into apogee (its position closest to Earth) at 7:14 p.m. on March 29.

Rising in the early morning and setting in the afternoon, this darkening moon passes overhead in the middle of the morning, auguring well for fishing at that time.

Weather trends

Seven major cold fronts move across the nation in an average April. Snow is possible in northern areas with the arrival of the first three fronts. Average dates for the weather systems to reach the Mississippi are April 2, 6, 11, 16, 21, 24 and 28.

Major storms are most likely to occur on the days between April 1-11, and between April 19-27. Although the intensity of the high-pressure systems moderates after April 22, be alert for frost at least two days after each system pushes through your area.

New moon on April 5, lunar perigee on April 16, full moon on April 19 are expected to intensify the weather systems near those dates. In general, most precipitation usually occurs during the first two weeks of the month.

The natural calendar

March 25: Buds form on wild raspberries, a sign that it is time for gall mites to be working in the ash trees and pine weevils and moths in the evergreens.

March 26: Water striders mate. Ragweed sprouts. Allergies intensify as pollen and mold begin to become significant.

March 27: May apple spears are up in the woods, prophesying morel mushroom season. The first buckeye, apple, and peach trees leaf out.

March 28: Eastern tent caterpillar eggs hatch between now and the middle of April. Look for their webs, especially on fruit trees, throughout your property.

March 29: Carpenter bees appear around the house and barn, looking for nesting sites. Those bees typically return to locations they have used before.

March 30: On the hillsides, hepatica and toothwort are opening. Spring beauties flower in lawns and woodlots. The first Virginia bluebell reveals its bells.

March 31: Ramps (native wild onions famous throughout Appalachia for healing and seasoning) are 3-6 inches tall, their foliage unraveling in wetlands.

Field and garden

Remove mulch from around rose bushes. Spread manure or other fertilizer before the major growing season gets underway. Complete all field planting preparations. Seven weeks remain until the most tender vegetables and flowers can set out in the garden.

Under the dark moon in the last days of March and the first days of April, put out broccoli, cabbage, collards, and kale sets. Commercial potato planting is typically underway, and farmers are band-seeding alfalfa.

Be sure your boars are getting enough vitamin E and selenium so they will be ready for breeding.

Plan ahead to serve the graduation cookout market – high school and college graduations can start as early as the first week in April and extend into the middle of June. And don’t forget the markets for Passover (April 19-27) and Easter (Roman on April 21, Orthodox on April 28).

In the countdown to summer, it is:

•A few days until goldfinches will be all gold and the fat toads sing

•Two weeks until lilacs bloom in your dooryards

•Three weeks until all the honeysuckles flower

•Four weeks to morel and May apple blooming seasons

•Five weeks to the first rhubarb pie

•Six weeks to the great warbler migration through the lower Midwest

•Seven weeks to the first peas from the garden

•Eight weeks until the first orange daylilies blossom

•Nine weeks until the high canopy begins shading the garden

•10 weeks until the first mulberries are sweet for picking and cottonwood cotton drifts in the wind

Best of the Almanac

The Possum and the Pot

My in-laws didn't get indoor plumbing till 1976, when my father-in-law had a stroke. Up to that time, they frequented the outhouse out back.

Now winter can be mighty rough here in the knobs of Kentucky, so most country folks kept a chamber pot under the bed or in the closet. My mother-in-law, Stella, kept hers in the closet.

One bitterly cold morning, duty called, and Stella modestly went to the closet. Just then, the dogs started raising ten kinds of cane under the house, so my father-in-law, Curt, got his 12-gauge shotgun from behind the bedroom door and went to investigate. But he didn't know Stella was in the closet.

The little house was built with a hand-dug basement with field rock and block under it. The further you crawled underneath it, the tighter the area became. With flashlight in hand, Curt saw a possum up under the smallest area, and cranked off both barrels of the shotgun, with Stella sitting on the chamber pot just above that possum.

Needless to say, Curt told that story up ‘til his death, laughing till tears rolled down his face, much to Stella’s embarrassment. She never said what happened when the blast hit, leaving it up to our imaginations.