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Poor Will's Almanack: February 1 - 7, 2011

Flickr Creative Commons user Chiot's Run
Broccoli seeding

Poor Will’s Almanack for the second week of late winter, the tenth week of the natural yearEven though the sun is climbing steadily toward equinox, time seems held in place by the cold and the never-ending banks of clouds. These are the natural weeks for human hibernation, for reflecting and for planning. And they are also weeks of safety during which a person can dream without having to make the dreams come true.

On a beautiful June day, I can't blame the weather for anything. But in the winter, I can nurse the blues with a certain amount of justification. I can look outside and say: "No wonder I feel the way I do!"

And this is the time of year that gardeners, restless and confined to their daydreams, can be stricken with desire for a garden that would break their backs in the heat of the Dog Days.

At least that's what happens to me. No matter that I always have so many seeds left over, no matter that overcrowded flats of flowers get stalky under my shop lights or damp off in the cool, dark days of February and March.

I simply cannot accept there is not space and time enough for all those plants. In the great, long view of my safe January haven, I know how powerful I am, how much I could do if I only would do it. Overwhelmed by wishful thinking, I ignore the disastrous experiences of last year and the year before. I spend the money, buy far too many seeds, bite off more than I can ever chew. And I continue to believe, right up until the very eve of August reckoning, that there really will be room for all those sprouts and dreams.

Next week on Poor Will's Almanack: notes for the third week of late winter. In the meantime, be careful what you dream about.

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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.