Vernal Equinox: When the sun crosses the plane of Earth’s equator, making night and day, dark and light, of equal lengths all over the planet. Pretty cool.
It’s coming. This week. Whether you’re a purist or you follow the calendar determines whether you recognize this on March 20 or 21 this year, in terms of celebration, that is. If you really want to see which is accurate, well, I guess you’d need 24 free hours in which to time the exact length of dark and light. Or you can just look at the online listings for sunrise and sunset in your part of the world. That should give you a clue which day it really takes place.
Regardless of which day it is exactly, spring is already apparent here on the bayou. Although, my pecan tree has not yet budded, (a sure sign of spring), any day now, I’m
sure it will. Down here, it’s safe to plant all your above-ground vegetables after the first day of spring. There’s not supposed to be any more cold weather after that. I’m thinking, though, that cold is a relative term. Last Tuesday, 43 degrees was pretty darn cold out on the water while getting the nest boxes ready for this mating season’s immigration of prothonotary warblers.
It will be exciting to see if any of the mama birds or female baby birds return to the same boxes to nest this year. I wonder if they’ll have a big discussion about who gets the box? Mama or daughter? My guess is it will be whichever gets to the box first. We did hear one male prothonotary call while we were working, and one box out of 49 had a tiny new bit of nesting material, the beginning of the nest the male sets up in preparation for his mate’s arrival. One box housed that beautiful wren’s nest and five eggs. We’ll be out again this week to check all 50 boxes to see if there’s more nesting material inside them.
Everything down here seemed to green up and bloom overnight. Every year, the burst of spring amazes me. I guess after a long, cold, lazy winter, the brilliance and vivaciousness of spring shocks me awake and into action, as though I’ve slept all winter. It leaps right out at me, catching me by surprise every March, which truthfully never gets old.
This winter, my back, back yard is covered in thistle. There are probably close to 50 species of thistle in the US, but I think I’ve narrowed these down to Spiny Thistle. Man, oh man, are they prickly. I’ll never forget the first time, some 40 years ago, when The Captain chopped the spiny leaves off the stem with a machete, then chopped off the stem, and cut off a piece and chewed it up. Of course, he offered me a piece, and I thought he was crazy! It’s a great substitute for celery, did you know that? The stem can be eaten raw or cooked, while the leaves and roots are best when cooked. Just one more wild thing down here to add to the natural bounty of table fare. I guess thistles have been around forever, but this is the first time I’ve observed them up close and personal. Four things I learned:
Bumble bees and honey bees share thistle flowers (click to enlarge images)
Leaf-footed bugs like thistle flowers
Sometimes, all three share a flower
Butterflies like thistle flowers
I don’t know my butterflies, but there were three like this flitting around the pink thistle heads the entire time I was out there. They sure do expend a lot of energy flitting around, from flower to flower, not staying long at any one flower, while the other bugs just sat there lazily, drinking their fill. I called these butterflies, Mother, Grandmother, and Grandmother Vi. Doing so made me remember so many spring Sunday afternoons playing in my grandmother’s yard while her irises bloomed; and oh the wisteria!! What a dreamy fragrance.
I’m curious to know what you’ve observed in your springtime neck of the woods, bayou, city. Take a minute and share with us, won’t you? If you landed here from Facebook, I would LOVE it if you would leave a comment below, and then sign up to subscribe to my blog. It’s FREE! And sometimes we give away prizes!