Eugene Weekly : It’s About Time : 3.3.11

By David Wagner

One of the great treasures of getting old is that my memory gives me a surge of pleasure each time I see a cycle of nature repeating itself in a familiar pattern. The neighbors daffodils coming up; cottonwood buds releasing that fragrant balm on warm days; pussy willows getting fuzzy. Towhees searching for a nest; Bewicks wren warbling; migrating robins foraging for worms. Just like last year.

Most Oregonians are blessed with having natural areas close to home to walk to. We live where close by are little patches of woods and ponds that sport wildlife and native flowers, the parks and countryside. Walking in them every couple of days, no set pattern but often, keeps a soul in touch with the pulse of the natural world.

March is one of the most unpredictable for us in the Willamette Valley. Apple and cherry crops are determined by vagaries of weather. Suddenly warm and sunny days will inspire premature frenzies of gardening activity.

Woodland herbaceous perennials are visibly vigorous with the passage of Equinox, responding to stronger, longer daylight coming in before the trees in the canopy spread out their leaves and shade the understory. The emerging bugs that eat the burgeoning vegetation will provide nourishment for mommy birds gathering energy to make eggs.

The migratory song birds arrive in tune with the current season, as sensitive indicators as any weather station. They cant predict whats coming next week, but are reliable markers of the present status of the biological season.

David Wagner is botanist who lives and works in Eugene. He teaches moss classes and leads nature walks. He may be reached at


Contact | EW Archive | Advertising Information | Current Issue