WYSO

Bill Felker

Host - Poor Will's Almanack

Bill Felker has been writing nature columns and almanacs for regional and national publications since 1984. His Poor Will’s Almanack has appeared as an annual publication since 2003. His organization of weather patterns and phenology (what happens when in nature) offers a unique structure for understanding the repeating rhythms of the year.

Exploring everything from animal husbandry to phenology, Felker has become well known to farmers as well as urban readers throughout the country.  He is an occasional speaker on the environment at nature centers, churches and universities, and he has presented papers related to almanacking at academic conferences, as well. Felker has received three awards for his almanac writing from the Ohio Newspaper Association. "Better writing cannot be found in America's biggest papers," stated the judge on the occasion of Felker’s award in 2000.

Currently, Bill Felker lives with his wife in Yellow Springs, Ohio. He has two daughters, Jeni, who is a psychologist in Portland, Oregon, and Neysa, a photographer in Spoleto, Italy.

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two goldfinches in the spring
nutmeg66 / Flickr Creative Commons

The Ducks-Scouting-for-Nests Moon wanes through it fourth phase this week, becoming the new Golding Goldfinch Moon on March 17. Rising in the morning and setting in the evening, this Moon passes overhead near midday, then sets near Venus. At midnight, the Big Dipper is overhead, Orion sets in the west, and Libra (along with Jupiter) rises in the east.

ladydragonflyherworld / Flickr Creative Commons

The Ducks-Scouting-for-Nests Moon wanes throughout the week, entering its final quarter on March 9 and reaching gentle apogee, its position farthest from Earth, two days later. Rising near midnight and setting in the morning, this Moon moves overhead throughout the darkest hours before daylight.

And if you spring your clocks ahead an hour for Daylight Saving Time just before dawn on the 11th, you might see the Moon rising in the east, not far from Jupiter and Mars in the southeast.

Kaarina Dillabough / Flickr Creative Commons

March had come in like a lion. And in the morning, I walked through town along the road to the songs of sparrows and crows, southeast into woods of Osage and scrub black walnuts and box elders.

All their branches were coated with ice, were shining in the sun, the world bright, steaming from the melting water.

I moved out of the open road and the noise of the city, into a protective hive of reflected light and a kind of bee-like murmuring that grew stronger as I entered the woods and took away all my attention away from the world outside. 

martius / Flickr Creative Commons

Just last year, after a January six degrees above average and  a remarkable first three weeks of February over eleven degrees above average, the land responded with change not seen since the warmest January-February on record in 1890.

pittou2 / Flickr Creative Commons

The Frolicking Fox Moon wanes until it becomes the new Ducks-Scouting-for-Nests on February 15.

During this February Moon, ducks actually do scout for nesting sites. Geese are looking, too.  This Moon brings more substance to the natural history of the year, an increase in the number of flower, foliage, insect and bird sightings and bird calls, a weightier accumulation of change than that of last week. That accumulation contributes a little more to the seasonal heritage of each region, adds to the composite of time that helps to define the cycles of passage.

hieronymouspidgeon / Flickr Creative Commons

In the long cold of the last few weeks, I have withdrawn into a fetal, psychic hibernation, reminiscing about childhood and about other retreats I have made from the weather and the world. This morning, while I was working alone in my attic bindery, listening to the wind and watching the snow, a memory mood from my hermetic high school years at Holy Cross Seminary came back and settled around me.

Paul Reynolds / Flickr Creative Commons

Despite the cold veneer of Late Winter and the power of tomorrow’s Supermoon, the natural year quickens. Nighttime excursions of skunks, the occasional appearance of flies, an increase in opossum activity, the prophetic calls of overwintering robins, and the disappearance of autumn seeds all offer counterpoint to winter silence and days of snow.

No matter the cold, beavers strip bark for food along the rivers. The tufted titmouse has begun its spiral mating flights. Blue jays give their bell-like calls. Male cardinals have started to sing before dawn.

through-the-eyes-of-g / Flickr Creative Commons

Sometimes the arrival of  Late Winter, carries a great thaw. One day I went out to the river in the warmth of such a thaw, when cumulus clouds tumbled across the sky in gusts of the southwest wind, and the water of the river was shining with low, brisk waves of silvers, then blues, then grays.

The oaks of the far bank were black against the bright sky. On hillsides of Osage trees, patches of their yellow wood glowed like the flush of expanding spring buds. Below the Osage hardy green chickweed,wild onion, garlic mustard, henbit and hemlock lay akimbo across the melting snow.

Will Montague / Flickr Creative Commons

The Frolicking Fox Moon is new today, and it waxes crescent throughout the coming week, entering its second quarter next Tuesday. This is the Moon that carries the Northern Hemisphere deep into the final days Late Winter, tantalizingly close to the first days of Early Spring. This Moon bodes well for the seeding of bedding plants and the earliest tomatoes under lights. It is a pruning moon that encourages making way for new growth. It is a moon that invites me out into the land to try to find the first pieces of the spring.

perry-pics / Flickr Creative Commons

It seems that the world lies too still and too deathly quiet in the middle of Deep Winter, but the Sun finally starts to rise earlier this week, finally cutting away at the length of the nights, complementing the sunset times that have been been occurring later just a little every few days since the middle of December.

The Bedding Plant Moon, weakens the meteorological tides as it reaches apogee (its position farthest from Earth) on January 14.

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