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Poor Will's Almanack: September 6 - 12, 2011

Flickr Creative Commons user BevKnits

Poor Will’s Almanack for the fifth week of Late SummerOne night at the end of summer, I took my border collie, Bella, and went walking in the nature preserve at the edge of town. Once I made my way to the open pastures, my eyes were drawn to the landmarks above me.

The moon was well up in the sky, gibbous and bright, half way past its first quarter, and big enough to light my way. Overhead, I could see the Summer Triangle, Altair, Deneb, and Vega.

Ahead of me, fog lay in long, white patches. As I approached it, I felt myself grow more alert. My eyes less useful, I stepped more carefully and deliberately. My sense of smell, usually dull or taken for granted, quickly found new odors around me. The scream of the crickets and the rasp of the katydids were magnified by my vigilance and sense of isolation in the dark.

In the safety of morning, I could take my self-sufficiency for granted. I knew my way because I could see it there in front of me. Here at night, I kept looking up, checking the moon and stars. Without them, I would have had to admit my vulnerability. I was especially glad to have Bella beside me. We were partners in the adventure, no longer dog and master.

Deprived of solar light, I reverted to a more fundamental self, to a more honest portion of my brain, one which was more mindful. In the day, my head often wandered well ahead of my feet, preoccupied and distracted. Here in the night, I didn't daydream, ruminate, worry or scheme. I didn't review the past or plan the future. Bella was my companion, and there was enough to do in the present.

Next week on Poor Will’s Almanack: notes for the first week of Early Fall. In the meantime, go out into the dark and see who you are.

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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.