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Poor Will's Almanack: February 15-21, 2011

Flickr Creative Commons user markhsal
Spring Bulbs

Poor Will’s Almanack for the first week of early spring, the twelfth week of the natural year The old year lost its power over me at some point in January. I felt rather than saw the change take place. Using inventories of what was happening in the landscape, I tried to define just what was involved in the disappearance of Deep Winter.

After leafdrop, there was a lingering sense of the canopy, remnants reminding me of what had been there. Certain shrubs and trees kept their leaves longer than others, the honeysuckles and the pears and some oaks. The foliage trickled away during December, and then I became distracted by cold or snow.

Berries dwindled after Christmas. Then January stripped away so much time from December nights, setting the birds singing and promising things they could not deliver soon enough for me. Then I instinctively looked for pieces of the new year to count and measure, finally tiring of dealing with the old pieces. Pussy willows and the foliage of the earliest bulbs emerged ever so slightly.

Measuring one thing is always about measuring something else. The questions about spring ask me questions about something more, asks about time and shades of loss and reconciliation. I picture people separated from me like seasons, and I wonder about the perennial return of their images and the power of their continued presence that slide into sync with my body's earthly year and tell me stories.

It is odd that issues so unlike blend together here. But this is February; almost everything lies below the surface, everything that has been and is still to come, and my feelings slowly rise through the mulch like spring, run over me and push me out into the coming year.

Next week on Poor Will's Almanack: notes for the second week of early spring. In the meantime, listen for the stories of spring.

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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.