StarTime: A few hours after sundown, Leo and Regulus are directly above the center of the United States. The Pleiades and Taurus lead Orion into the far west. The Big Dipper protrudes deep into the center of the sky. By six o'clock in the morning, the stars have become a prophecy of late summer, August's Vega almost overhead, Hercules a little to its east, the Northern Cross to its west.
Weather Time: The March 29 Front: This last front of early spring introduces tornado season to the nation's midsection, and the likelihood of a thunderstorm is six times greater this week than it was last week. As this front moves into Pennsylvania, a significant chance for a high in the 80s occurs for the first time this year in Clark County. In the warmest years of all, frost can be gone until October or November. Since the new moon occurs this year on the 29th, however, expect frost, flurries and wind as March comes to a close.
ERIC ELWELL: Spring outlook shows warmer than average conditions to return
Zeitgebers: Events in Nature that Tell the Time of Year: When you hear the robin chorus before sunrise, then look for wild geranium and columbine leaves growing in the woods. Scarlet cup mushrooms could be swelling in the dark.
When you see the first blue periwinkles open among last year’s fallen leaves, then summer’s lizard’s tail is sprouting in the river mud, and in the Southwest, wildflower season is peaking.
Look for morel mushrooms when May apples push out from the ground and cowslip buds in the swamp. That’s when leaves come out on skunk cabbage.
Parsnips in bloom will tell you that deer are growing their new antlers and all the rest of your garden weeds are coming in. Cabbage butterflies in your back yard announce that bass and sunfish are moving to spawn in shallow waters.
Farm and Garden Time: Cabbage butterflies tell you that this is one of the most favorable of all times this spring to seed hardy vegetable and flower seeds directly in the garden.
Although several mornings of frost are likely during the next 45 days, even tender sweet corn (at least a few rows) can be planted now for June or early July harvests.
Plant spring barley as the ground permits. The first grass will need cutting in fewer than twenty days: tune up the lawn mower. Put in the first field corn, potatoes, sugarbeets, carrots and red beets
Mind and Body Time: Most people have now moved from winter doldrums to spring fever, a welcome shift in the body clock. But since the moon becomes new on March 27 (and becomes much stronger than it is right now), take care of financial and romantic business as soon as possible. If you work in a nursing home or hospital, expect restless patients as the moon turns new next week. If you're on the police force or work for the fire department, look forward to a few more calls than usual. Continue to watch for severe bouts of depression or flareups of choronic disease as seasonal changes intensify.
Creature Time: The moon is overhead in the late morning and early afternoon this week. That gives you a chance to sleep in and then get fishing just as the water is warming up around lunchtime. You should catch the most fish just before the arrival of the March 29 cold front. Then wait a few days and watch for the barometer to start dropping in front of the April 2 front. Continue to walk the woods to understand the movements of turkeys and deer. Among the migrant birds to watch for: great blue herons, hooded warblers and pine warblers, chipping sparrows, snow buntings,
By the 24th, the cardinals will sing just a few minutes after six, and if you get up half an hour earlier, you will hear the first notes of the great predawn chorus of birds that waxes through May and June. Later in the day, flickers and pilleated woodpeckers call along the river. Migrant termites will be flying then, and the first green-bottle flies, and a few mosquitoes
Catfish are getting ready to feed at the Clarence Brown Reservoir. In your yard, pollen will form on the pussy willow catkins. Yellow-bellied sapsuckers are here. Gold finches are turning gold. Garter snakes and orange polygonia butterflies bask in the sun.
The number of new plants emerging increases every day even though the air is cool. In the parks, hepatica, harbinger of spring, and twinleaf are pushing out. Toad trillium and Dutchman’s britches are ready to open. The foliage of wild geranium, clover, and columbine is growing. September’s zig-zag goldenrod is two inches long. Leaves of the golden alexander are an inch across.
All the leaves and butterflies are signs that magnolias are coming out in Cincinnati, and that the sand hill cranes are migrating in the Rocky Mountains. The road to Savannah is green with leaves a third to half emerged. Wisteria is fragrant along the Georgia coast, and fields of rice show off their purple blossoms. In Alabama, it’s time for redbud trees and Bradford pears. On the outskirts of New Orleans, winter cress is going to seed, and huge, squat yellow thistles grow beside the roads.