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Poor Will's Almanack: April 2 - 8, 2024

via Flickr Creative Commons

Poor Will’s Almanack for the days of of middle spring with the sun in Aries above the tadpole moon.

All the news this week seems to be about the solar eclipse that will darken a swath of American land from the Southwest into the Northeast on April 8.

I remember the last solar eclipse, August 21, 2017. Early in the afternoon that day, I was cutting the colorful zinnias to bring indoors. Sparrows chirped off and on, and cicadas buzzed. Cardinals and crows called. High clouds sometimes filtered the sunlight, but the day was bright and mild.

A friend had called the day before. He said he had heard that birds stopped singing in the middle of a solar eclipse and that when the sun came through the moon again, the birds resumed their calls. As the eclipse approached, I waited.

As the world darkened around me, the high locusts and hackberry and maple trees that surrounded the yard took on an amber glow. It was not a vision of September so much as a transfiguration of summer to a new sepia season, a thin burnished time far from the decay of autumn.

Then I noticed the cicadas were quiet, and I heard no birds. While I stood surrounded by zinnias, bright red became deep blood-red, yellow became gold, orange became sienna, pink became violet, violet turned purple, bright white was soft and creamy.

I waited and waited, as the filter of the eclipse weakened, and everything became the way it once had been. The zinnias resumed their sunny color. Cicadas buzzed again. Sparrows chirped. A cardinal sang. Towards the west end of town, crows called out.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will's Almanack. I'll be back again with more notes on nature and the seasons. In the meantime, be outside for the eclipse on April 8. If you miss it, stand outside at the end of the day and watch the daily eclipse of sundown.

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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.