Eugene Weekly : It’s About Time : 3.5.09

By David Wagner

March is a month of great anticipation. The winter rainy season isn’t over but the  woodland wildflowers are starting to bloom. The peak flush of blossoms builds after the equinox. Bigleaf maple buds burst by month’s end.

A dry spell gives a headstart on gardening. Spread fresh mulch on the perennial beds. Onion starts don’t mind occasional frost, so plant them now. If you like arugula, sow seeds now. Plant peas. Then, pray for rain.

When a day dawns bright and clear, returning migrant song birds greet the warming of the morning with tweetles of territorial claims. The little frogs have started singing, too, only croaks at first but choruses of frigget coming soon. These, of course sing at night.

Stepping out on clear nights gives a chance to look south and talk to Orion. Every night he’s a bit further  to the right. It  won’t be long now, and he’ll be out of sight by bedtime. Gone all summer, he’ll return in the fall.

It is good to see herons return to the nests in the cottonwoods of east Delta Ponds. They haven’t used this rookery for several years. More fish in the ponds nearby? A cormorant seen gobbling down a big fish just lately gives positive evidence. The golden eyes are making love dances in the ponds. All the ducks and geese have paired. Soon there will be fluffy ducklings and goslings to coo over. Remember not to feed them bread, or their wings will become deformed from overnutrition.


David Wagner is a botanist who has worked in Eugene for more than 30 years. He teaches mosses and is president of the Eugene Natural History Society. He may be reached at