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Poor Will's Almanack: October 19 - 25, 2021

red and green maple leaf in the foreground on a branch of a fall tree
Rachel Andrew
via Flickr Creative Commons

Poor Will’s Almanack for the third week of Middle Fall, the third week of the Frog and Toad Migration Moon, the transition week of the Sun to Scorpio

The inventory of autumn is rich in foliage and color, but the approach of late autumn draws down the density and texture of the canopy and strips away almost all the floral barriers to winter. In the same way that spring overcomes February and March with an accumulation of new growth, fall spreads across the summer with an accumulation of loss.

One enumeration of the season is the counting of what no longer holds, a counting of emptiness, cued only by memory and the more durable, woody scaffolding that binds the seasons:

Foliage of apple trees and crab apple trees, ginkgoes, sugar maples, dogwoods, gone or collapsing.

Silent mornings: no more robins chattering, no cardinal song, no dove song, no red-winged blackbird song, no grackle song, no cicada song, no katydid song, no cricket song –

Hollow milkweed pods, bare raspberry canes, bare blackberry canes, innumerable flowers absent, and harvest complete – no wheat, soybeans, corn, tomatoes.

Remembered shapes of absent plums and peaches, pears and cherries, strawberries and mulberries. Empty shells of milkweed.

Vanished fragrances of blossoms from roses and mock orange and lilacs, from alyssum and moonflowers and jasmine.

From a litany of creatures and events no longer present, one might unthink the world, take it down and let it rest. Emptiness is to space what silence is to sound. In the monastic embrace of the quiet, autumnal cell, I watch and listen, counting absences, replacing nothing.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the fourth week of Middle Fall. In the In the meantime, look for what isn't there

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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.