Mohawk Valley Almanac for April 2015
April brings welcoming warmth and increasing hours of evening daylight. The sub-zero temperatures are past and the snow is mostly gone, despite an occasional April Fool’s joke that usually lasts only two or three days. From the Latin aprilis meaning to open up, the early greenery of crocuses and tufts of grasses are harbingers of the transition of the landscape from drab browns and grays to the various shades of green that dominate the scene for the next several months.
The day time high temperature averages 57°F with a low of 34°F, though afternoons in the 60s to low 70s are not unusual. The extreme temperature range is from 8°F to 90°F. Precipitation averages 3.58 inches, most of it as rain showers, though occasionally two to five inches of snow may fall. The day light hours increase, with sunset about 8:00 P.M. by the end of the month.
To the close observer, April is a month of surprises. Various woodland and garden flowers sprout up before the leaves on the trees begin their green growth. Crocuses and snow drops are among the first garden flowers to bloom in late March, but will likely not appear until April this year due to the heavy snows and severe cold of this past winter. Fragrant hyacinths, and yellow or white daffodils soon follow, usually blooming by mid month. Tulips follow, blooming in late April and into May.
If one is lucky enough for a mud season walk in the woods, fiddle heads may be found, especially in the North Country. This edible fern tastes like asparagus, with the shape of the handle of violin, thus its name. Saxifrage, violets, and other pink, white, and lavender wildflowers bloom on the forest floor at this time of year. And while it might be muddy, the temperatures are often pleasant, and the insects are few.
As the soil thaws and dries out from the winter, it is time to be thinking of the garden. April is ideal for planting most root crops such as carrots, beets, onions, and maybe potatoes. Greens are also good to go for early planting, including wide varieties of spinach, lettuce, chards, Pak Choi, and perhaps broccoli or Brussels sprouts. If you have flowers in your garden, the early sunny and warm days of April will be full of color, with yellow and white daffodils, and the fragrance and color of white, lavender, or red hyacinths. While working in the garden you might observe the first bees of the season attracted to some of these spring flowers.
April Holidays and Observances
April 1 April Fools' Day
April 2 Pascua Florida Day – Florida
April 3 Good Friday
April 4 First Day of Passover
April 5 Easter Sunday
April 7 National D.A.R.E. Day
April 12 Halifax Day - North Carolina
April 13 Thomas Jefferson’s Birthday
April 14 Pan American Day
April 16 Jose De Diego’s Birthday - Puerto Rico
April 20 Patriots’ Day - Maine, Massachusetts - 3rd Monday
April 21 San Jacinto Day (Texas)
April 22 Earth Day April 22 Administrative Professionals Day - Formerly Secretary’s Day (Wednesday of last week of April)
April 24 National Arbor Day (Last Friday, but variable by State)
April 27 Confederate Memorial Day - Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi - (4th Monday)
April is Cancer Control Month
~1st Week~ Cherry Blossom Festival
~2nd Week~ National Guitar Week
~3rd Week~ Astronomy Week
~4th Week~ National Parks Week April Almanac
Clean-ups Celebrate Spring
With the warmer weather, many look beyond their garden or yard into the greater community. Earth Day, Arbor Day, and May Day all celebrate the new growth of spring, often with spring clean-ups at parks and commercial districts and roadways throughout the region. Over the years these have included clean-ups at the Utica Marsh, Proctor Park, and many other places. Most of these activities are well publicized in local newspapers and on television.
Earth Day in particular leads to greater interest in educational seminars and public meetings on green issues of regional agriculture, Rust to Green efforts on more recycling of building materials and other green issues. Many schools and colleges and other organizations sponser such events surrounding Earth Day on April. Spring Break Most schools take a week off in April, which may or may not coincide with Easter week. Museums, libraries, and other organizations often sponsor special acctivities for children during this week.
With better spring weather, bicycles become much more common on the streets, and golfers get their first shot at the many golf courses in the area. Those training for the Boilermaker and other road races hit the roads running.
Letter Writing and Stamp Collecting
Related to a recent column on letter writing is the hobby of stamp collecting. Long before current Black History Month, it was on April 7, 1940 that Booker T. Washington became the first African American to be featured on a U.S. postage stamp. There have been many U.S. stamps with African-Americans since then, including Louis Armstrong, Frederick Douglas, and Harriet Tubman. Stamp collecting is still a hobby that entertains many people with depictions of history, animals, transportation, space exploration, and many other topics on these small pieces of paper that still decorate at least some home-delivered mail.
In the Night Skies April’s full moon is the Full Pink Moon, named after the wild ground phlox, an early pink flower. Other names include the Fish Moon, named after spawning shad in coastal areas, Sprouting Grass Moon, and Egg Moon.
There is a total lunar eclipse on April 4th, the beginning early morning just before the Moon sets at 6:34 A.M. Mars is close to the sun and generally hidden from view. Mercury is visible this month as an early evening star, seen in the west beginning April 23 and passing just to the left of the Seven Sisters star cluster on April 30. Venus is visible near this star cluster as well, earlier in the month from the 10th to 13th. Jupiter is high in the southern sky at nightfall, while Saturn is not seen until about 11:00 P.M. throughout the month.
Sun Rises 6:17 A.M. Sets 7:43 P.M. Moon 4:24 A.M. 4:11 P.M. Mercury 6:35 A.M. 8:16 P.M Venus 8:01 A.M. 11:14 P.M. Mars 7:00 A.M. 9:03 P.M. Jupiter 1:14 P.M. 3:44 A.M. Saturn 10:46 P.M. 8:27 A.M.
Full Moon April 4 Last Quarter April 11 New Moon April 18 First Quarter April 25