|Mikhail R. Sigalov|
The second phase of spring is named the yellow or the naked spring; it lasts until the unfurling of first leaves. After a couple of real sunny days we might see a "blue tulip" — прострел простёртый — сон-трава, — also commonly known as pasque flower, windflower, prairie crocus and meadow anemone. This bloom has not been seen in Moscow since 1936; it is not to be found near Moscow. But if we drive two hundred kilometers from the Kremlin, we get to rediscover the rare blossom in the sleep-inducing grasses. Just a little before the grass is green, we'll probably find mushrooms, especially morels and oysters. But all of them need to be boiled before consumption.
The third phase of springtime has arrived, when the birch trees leaf. Now potatoes are being planted too. It is the green or dressed phase of spring. It is deemed the time of conception; the peak of births happens nine months later. In the 18th century Shuya peasant Yakov Kirillov got 57 children with his first wife and 15—with his second wife. In the same village, Vvedenskoye, his neighbor Fedor Vasilyev registered 69 babies with his first wife and—with the help of his second wife—he became a father of the total 87 sons and daughters.
In the center of Russian Europe, a cold snap still can happen, when the black alder trees begin to blossom. Right after, the sour cherry trees go into bloom; it takes just three days. Another five days and the apple trees are flowering. After one more day lilacs appear. In 1921, spring was so warm that the black alders florescence occurred already on April 26th. But during the frigid 1941, lilacs only began to bloom on June twenty-second. First day of war with Nazi-Germany. Nightingales sing from May to June, — and the old Russian saying goes: "Warm rain, wet May — we get grain, we get hay.”
Mikhail Romanovich Sigalov holds a PhD in Geography from the Moscow State University. He studied Siberia and traveled far and wide. He also lectured large audiences. Mr Sigalov succeeded to include poetry in his popular books on the European part of Russia.