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

Sunset with the moon at Blacklick, Ohio. Even at midday 5 p.m. the moon keeps a silent vigil over our world.
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Sunset with the moon at Blacklick, Ohio. Even at midday 5 p.m. the moon keeps a silent vigil over our world.

Poor Will’s Almanack in the time of late fall in the time of the pumpkin moon and the time of the sun in Scorpio.

The inventory of middle autumn at the end of October is rich in foliage and color, but the settling in of late autumn draws down the density and texture of the canopy and it 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, so fall spreads across the summer with an accumulation of loss.

One enumeration of late fall 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:

The great loss of leaves opens the sky. Foliage of apple trees, ginkgoes, maples, redbuds, black walnuts, catalpas, box elders, locusts, elms, birches, poplars, cottonwoods, oaks , sycamores, mulberries, sweet gumsand magnolias... the foliage of all these trees is either down or collapsing.

The leaves of shrubs, and the innumerable wildflowers are missing, too.

The mornings are so silent: no more robins chattering, no cardinal song, no dove song, no red-winged blackbird song. In the day: no cicada song. At night: no katydid song, no cricket song.

Still, all of those absences can and often do remain inside us

as presences, almost tangible in our reliving of the great gifts of the year.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with more notes on the seasons. In the meantime, look harder. You'll find your way through the cold ahead.

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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.