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Poor Will's Almanack: February 7 - 13, 2023

Pussy Willow catkins ("pussies") expanding in early spring along Scotsmore Way in the Chantilly Highlands section of Oak Hill, Fairfax County, Virginia
Wikimedia Commons

Poor Will’s Almanack for the third week of  Late Winter, the fourth week of the Cardinal Mating Moon, the third week of the Sun in Aquarius.

Using inventories of what is taking place in the landscape, I try to define just what is involved in the departure of the old year and exactly when and where the new year happens.

Berries dwindle after Christmas. Then January strips away almost an hour from the early winter sunsets, setting the birds singing and promising things they can not deliver soon enough. 

I count fragments of the new year: A few pussy willows opening and the foliage of the earliest bulbs emerging. Little by little they begin to erase the previous spring, summer and fall.

Counting one thing is always about counting something else. Measuring and recollecting the leaves and buds of time and place remind me about events and relationships associated with the seasons.

I picture people and places separated from me, and I wonder about the perennial return of their images and the power of their continued presence.

The images come back again and again, sometimes embodied in another person or location, sometimes only as waves of emotion.

This is the end of winter; almost everything lies below the surface, everything that has been and is still to come. I sort and sort through my countings, and they slowly rise through the mulch like spring, run over me and push me out into the fields.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the first week of Late Winter. In the meantime, it's the thin time between winter and spring, let all your memories float in its fog.

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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.