Environment & Outdoors

Kaveri Ganapathy Ahuja/Twitter

We might be forgiven for looking a little harder than usual to find something to be happy about these days.

The biggest moon of the year takes over the night sky tonight, plus a citizen-science photography experiment, and Mars, Saturn and Jupiter line up with the moon next week like "a popcorn string of planets."

And Comet ATLAS, (like a lot of things these days) seems to be falling apart.

Seabrooke Leckie/Flickr

The Child is adorable ... but you won't find him/her/them on your local neighborhood, Governor-sanctioned outdoor traipses.

What you can look for, though, is The Infant.

Max McGruder/Bent Paddle Brewing. Used with permission.

When Cindy Hale and Jeff Hall saw the income from their small farm drop "from several thousand dollars a month to zero, overnight," they realized the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic wasn't going to be over anytime soon.

KaLisa Veer/Unsplash

Whether it's bird watching, phenology or planning a garden, the backyard is the place to be these days.

As soon as things dry out a little more, Tom Kasper says we can get started on raking the gravel off the lawn, pruning animal-damaged trees and shrubs, and sussing out the perfect spot for your new vegetable garden.

Peter Swaine/American Woodcock

Larry Weber is gonna make you feel better about just about everything today.

The backyard is going to become more interesting as we stay at home for a couple of weeks, fog and calm are terrific conditions for hearing sounds, sap's flowing, buds are popping,  and today's warm temperatures could even result in butterflies.

©Bob King. Used with permission.

Some skywatchers were disappointed this week to discover that the moving, blinking lights in the sky were not, in fact, a spaceship from another planet.  Some were crestfallen to learn it was just the International Space Station. Astro Bob has more information and good viewing times here in this blog post.

Szilvia Basso/Unsplash

It feels like the world has gone pear-shaped overnight.

Even so, Larry Weber reminds us that "Mother Nature is still responding with spring."

And maybe, if you're being forced to out of the fast lane for a bit, this is just the opportunity to spend a little time in your own backyard, welcoming spring.


Road salt is useless if it's colder than 15°. It corrodes pavement and metal and it doesn't biodegrade. Not to mention what it does to water quality when it washes into streams, rivers and lakes.

Beet juice and cheese brine aren't bad de-icing options, but deer love them, and attracting deer to roadways isn't exactly improving safety.

And then there's potassium acetate.  It has a lower freezing point, it biodegrades ... it's just so gosh-darn expensive.

Rick Obst/Flickr

Here's the thing about gardening: you can do it alone, even if you garden with a friend you're usually more than six feet apart anyway, and getting outside is good for you.

Fisher-Merritt Family

When Janaki Fisher-Merrit was a kid growing up on the farm, his idea of teenage rebellion was telling his parents how they should be doing things.  Now the co-owner of the Food Farm in Wrenshall is telling a whole new generation of farmers.

Cam Miller/Flickr

Spring hasn't quite sprung - that will be next week on March 19, the earliest vernal equinox in over 100 years.

Meanwhile, whatever we may think about the winter, the DNR's Winter Severity Index of 130 says it was a tough one.  And the deer agree.

Malibu Boats/Facebook

If you've never heard of "wake boats," you're not alone.

©Bob King. Used with permission.

March 18: the crescent moon will be clustered with Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn

March 19: Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn will still be clustered together

Also March 19: it's the first day of spring and the sun will rise due east and set due west

March 20: Mars slides below Jupiter

And when all of these things happen in just a couple of days ... it's a conjunction conjunction.

Judy Gibbs. Used with permission.

Larry Weber is the kind of guy who notices things.

So it shouldn't have come as a surprise, when he announced he'd be gone this week, that he recommended Judy Gibbs as a guest host, and commented that there needed to be more women on the "Backyard Almanac special guest host" bench.

So we're particularly delighted to present the debut of Northland Morning's first woman as guest host, longtime phenologist and Duluth's Trees, Trails and Bikeways Coordinator.