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Poor Will's Almanack: February 4 - 10, 2020

Lorianne DiSabato
Flickr Creative Commons

Even as the cold breaks the Groundhog Day thaw, many signs appear of the broader scope of the season, reminders of what to watch for and what to do.

When the first fly gets in your house on a warm Late Winter day, then opossums  and skunks wander the back roads at night.

When the red tips of peonies push out just a little from the ground, then blue jays are courting and wild turkeys to are gathering in flocks.

When red-winged blackbirds come to build their nests, then the maple sap should already be running.

When the first snowdrop foliage emerges through the snow, then it’s time to sprout cabbages, kale, and collards under lights.

When pale Asian ladybugs emerge in the warmth of sunny windowsills, then yellow Jessamine is blooming along the Gulf Coast, camellias are at their best; avocados and papayas are ripening far in the South.

When the first knuckles of rhubarb emerge from the ground, then it’s time to plant onion sets directly in the soil and seed cold frames with spinach, radishes and lettuce.

When sparrows are courting, then that is a favorable time to cut branches of forsythia and pussy willows are cut for forcing indoors.

When small brown moths appear on warmer afternoons, then ducks are looking for nesting sites and ambystoma salamanders mate at night in the slime.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the final week of Late Winter. In the meantime, even though the weather is cold, the signs are telling us all there is a lot to see and do.

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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.