Nature Notebook, March 9, 2017


The full moon that rises on Sunday, March 12 is called the “worm” or “sap” moon in traditional communities of North America. In colder climates, the ground becomes soft enough for worms to appear, and thus for the planting season to begin. The sap moon comes from areas where maple trees grow; sap rises in the trees with warmer temperatures and becomes ready to harvest. Don’t forget to spring forward with Daylight Savings this weekend.  

Also ahead is the vernal equinox, on March 20, the first day of spring for the western hemisphere. Coast Miwok and Kashaya Pomo peoples welcomed the mats of wild strawberries once seen in abundance in Nicasio Valley and along the Bodega hills. These first fruits are used in ceremonies around the equinox, welcoming the return of spring and the earth’s renewal of itself each year. 

The pink flowering shrub along the Levee Road and in front of the community center and clinic is flowering currant. (The dangling flowers remind me of chandeliers.) Watch and listen for hummingbirds, which feed on the nectar of these plants; they make a distinctive buzzing sound as they dive toward their food.

Along the slopes of Mount Tamalpais, above Stinson Beach in the coast redwood forests, three-petalled trillium is blooming. And look in the thick moss beds for the tiny magenta and yellow-spotted Calypso orchid. What else will appear as the temperatures warm this week?