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Poor Will's Almanack: January 17 - 23, 2022

Julie Falk
Flickr Creative Commons

Poor Will’s Almanack for final week of Deep Winter, the fourth week of the Tufted Titmouse Moon, the first week of the sun in Aquarius, the traditional time of the January Thaw.

Now even though some of the coldest days of winter still lie ahead, the advance of spring quickens in the lengthening days, and the likelihood of a major winter thaw grows stronger.

Crows know all about the expanding daylight. Their migration cycle typically starts at the early edge of the night’s retreat.

This is also the week opossums and raccoons become more active, and they appear at night along the backroads. Once you sight these small mammals, then you know for sure late winter is on the way.

Skunk cabbage is up in the swamps, blackened by the cold but still strong. Watercress often holds in the streams.

In the pastures, basal leaves of thistles and mullein are deep green beneath the snow. In town, winter-blooming hellebores blossom in the warmest microclimates.

On the hillsides, the springs are clear and the vegetation bright. New chickweed covers parts of the bottomlands. Basal foliage of sweet rocket and leafcup is lush and tall, waiting for April and May.

As you walk through the wetlands in the January Thaw, small, pale moths may follow you, and you may see crayfish crawling along through the shallow water.

In the dooryards, snowdrops have come up, many with their pale white bud-like tips showing.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the first week of Late Winter. In the meantime, go outside when the thaw arrives. Listen for crows. Look for chickweed in the woods. Whatever you see could be a sign of spring.

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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.