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Poor Will's Almanack: March 9 - 15, 2020

So much of the time, I only see a few pieces of the season. Especially in March, which is a fickle month, sometimes full of flowers, sometimes dark and gray with snow.

That is why I make use of the first homely law of phenology, that states that when one thing is happening in nature, something else is always happening, too.

So when I notice pussy willows breaking out all the way, I know that maple syrup time is about over for the year and that red-winged blackbirds have arrived in the wetlands near my house.

If I am up a little before sunrise, I might hear the robin mating chorus getting underway, and then I know garter snakes emerge in the sun and earthworms migrate up from their winter locations toward the surface – to feed the robins and snakes.

If I notice a honeybee or a bumblebee or a carpenter bee, then I know that woodchucks are digging up the hillsides, and that ducks and geese are scouting for nesting sites and that onion sets can be tucked into the garden soil.

And if I see white cabbage butterflies then I know that bass and sunfish are moving to spawn in shallow waters and that forsythia is ready to bloom and that the first major wave of wildflowers – the trilliums and bloodroots and Dutchman’s britches – are ready to bloom throughout the woods.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the fifth week of Early Spring. In the meantime, remember that no matter what is happening, something else is happening, too.

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Bill Felker has been writing nature columns and almanacs for regional and national publications since 1984. His Poor Will’s Almanack has appeared as an annual publication since 2003. His organization of weather patterns and phenology (what happens when in nature) offers a unique structure for understanding the repeating rhythms of the year.