Thursday, March 9, 2017

Spring phenology, step by step

At least for now, March winds are quieting down. Goldfinches are no longer being blown of of their perches on the feeder. Inside the house, each pot of crocus bulbs has one flower in bloom. Outdoor temperatures are approximately seasonal. The Minnesota Legislature has more than two months to go in the 2017 session, Lord help us all. It doesn't end until Monday, May 22. For now, here's a list of possible first occurrences for today. I found it on a phenology calendar at the Aldo Leopold Foundation web site, but it doesn't seem to be available any longer.

crocus bloom opening
crocus bloom opening
Photo by J. Harrington

crocus starting to bloom
crocus starting to bloom
Photo by J. Harrington

  • American Robin
  • American Woodcock “peenting” Belted Kingfisher
  • Canada Goose
  • Common Grackle
  • Eastern Bluebird
  • Eastern Meadowlark
  • Fox Sparrow
  • Hooded Merganser
  • Killdeer
  • Mosquito
  • Northern Cardinal Song
  • Northern Flicker
  • Red-winged Blackbird
  • Sandhill Crane
  • Skunk Cabbage Bloom
  • Song Sparrow
  • Turkey Vulture
  • Wisconsin Sunrise River Open
  • Wood Duck 

So far, the only occurrences on the list that I can confirm are the Canada Geese and Hooded Mergansers. The Sunrise River has been partially open but seems to be headed back toward freeze-up again, and I still haven't headed into the wetlands to look for skunk cabbage. Spring in Minnesota is like that, one step forward, two back, spin around, jump and a half-step forward again.

The Year’s Awakening

How do you know that the pilgrim track
Along the belting zodiac
Swept by the sun in his seeming rounds
Is traced by now to the Fishes’ bounds
And into the Ram, when weeks of cloud
Have wrapt the sky in a clammy shroud,
And never as yet a tinct of spring
Has shown in the Earth’s apparelling;
     O vespering bird, how do you know,
          How do you know?

How do you know, deep underground,
Hid in your bed from sight and sound,
Without a turn in temperature,
With weather life can scarce endure,
That light has won a fraction’s strength,
And day put on some moments’ length,
Whereof in merest rote will come,
Weeks hence, mild airs that do not numb;
     O crocus root, how do you know,
          How do you know?

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