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Poor Will's Almanack: December 6 - 12, 2022

Peter Stenzel

Poor Will’s Almanack for the first week of Early Winter, the third week of the Goose Gathering Moon, the third week of the Sun in Sagittarius.

As Early Winter settles in, the colors of the newly revealed landscape compensate for autumn losses.

Hawthorn berries, holly berries and rose hips stand out now. Coralberries still hold their magenta.

All the bittersweet hulls have fallen from their vines, but many of the orange berries remain attached.

Barberry shows off its scarlet fruit more clearly than at any other time of year.

Red-twigged dogwoods shine against the snow, and sometimes a last late yellow forsythia or witch hazel will flower.

Blood-red staghorns remain on the sumacs. Brown-barked river birches, white birches and sycamores contrast with the black trunks of oaks and elms.

The pale seed heads of the goldenrod and ironweed and the soft russet knotweed foliage, are set against the dove-colored sky. Sleek pussy willow buds wait to reveal their soft catkins.

Before snow covers the land, the emerald green of winter wheat fields brightens the coldest December and promises spring.

And the sun makes even the most drab landscape come alive. The Wisconsin naturalist, August Derleth describes that power:

"But in winter's drabness...the sunlight lingers; it falls at an angle which invests every blade and seed-head with a life it has at no other time...it sheds a mellow tan radiance, so that for a few hours of every afternoon, warm or cold, the meadows and the marshes seem endowed with a special kind of sentience in the soft sienna haze which holds to everything as were it the tangibility of sunlight itself."

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the second week of Early Winter. In the meantime, look for the sun brining all the darkness of the winter landscape to life.

Poor Will's Almanack for 2023 as well as my new book of essays, The Virgin Point: Meditations in Nature, are now, available on Amazon or from www.poorwillsalmanack.com.

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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.