Has spring sprung?



Crocuses finally show some color

Is it truly ever spring? It seems like as soon as the last snowflake melts, the summer heat gets switched on.

The calendar marked the “official” start of spring or the vernal equinox on Monday, March 20.

However, Mother Nature often has other plans in store for us.



Natural signs such as spring peepers awakening, flowers blooming and birds calling seem to point the region in the direction of spring.

A story by Fred Schaaf on www.motherearthnews.com, said “spring peepers don’t begin their calling until the average temperature rises above about 50°F.”

Meanwhile, another article on punxsutawneyspirit.com, said their local “Peeper Watcher” John London claimed the earliest dates the peepers called was March 2, 1979, and the latest dates were April 1, 1978, 1999 and 2001.

London also referenced the old saying that “spring is not officially here until the frogs see through glass three times.”



Meaning, the peepers will peer through ice at least three times before we’re done with winter.

Three seems to be a popular number in springtime folklore.

Internet searches bring up lore such as there will be three more winter snows after the first time you see a robin in the spring.



Other lore states that it will snow three times on daffodils in bloom before winter’s grip loosens.

It would seem that the third time is the charm.

Meanwhile, the Pennsylvania Dutch must have occupied their winter-to-spring transitions thinking up names for “spring” snows.

According to several websites, the Pennsylvania Dutch are responsible for the terms onion, sapling-bender and crack-stuffer snows.

The onion snow refers to a snowfall that occurs after the spring onions have been planted.

“The snowfall is defined as light and melts quickly, and is usually the final snowfall before the end of the spring season,” according to farmersalmanac.com.

A sapling-bender snow is also a late spring snow defined as wet and so heavy that it bends the branches of new saplings.

A crack-stuffer snow is the term for a dry fine-grained snow that settles into cracks, according to wisegeek.com.

The website said that folklore calls for all three types of snow to occur before spring is finally here.

Meanwhile, there are other reminders of the progression of the season.


A doe is caught by surprise

A Butler County wildlife conservation officer reported that the bears are emerging from hibernation with his added advice to bring in bird feeders at night.

The northward progress of the ruby-throated hummingbirds can be tracked online at www.hummingbirds.net/map.html.

Other species can be tracked on ebird.org.


A hawk looks for a quick meal

On a more scientific front, the National Weather Service office in Pittsburgh is forecasting above normal temperatures for much of the eastern half of the country for the beginning of April. It also reported that precipitation will be above normal the first two weeks of the month – hence, April Showers.

Whether or not spring is here to stay, only Mother Nature can say.


Sadie, Buford and Sherman head out for a swim.

A Walk in the Woods contains photos from newsroom staffer Anna Applegate’s daily jaunts around her neck of the woods. Tagging along on the treks are dogs, Buford, Sherman and Sadie, and goats, Kyle and Kennedy. Applegate manages the Good Times and can be emailed at bigdogs.thederrick@gmail.com.