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Poor Will's Almanack: May 15 - 21, 2012

Flickr Creative Commons user Wentzy

Poor Will’s Almanack for the fourth week of Late Spring.

In the middle of this past January, I set twenty-five geranium seeds in a flat of moist potting soil and placed them under a growlight in the attic. Eighteen sprouts appeared in ten days and grew steadily throughout the coldest time of the year.

Although I have always had a weakness for new sprouts and spring growth, something about these geraniums was different. Maybe it was their location in the attic, that they gave life to a cluttered and neglected place of objects that had lost their relevance. No matter the reason, my reaction to the plants surprised me a little.

Whenever I went up to the attic to check on them, I felt happy. I felt especially at home with them. I felt their benign and comforting energy. I felt supremely useful watering and feeding them.

Now I once corresponded with a naturalist who believed that plants could actually talk to her, but she was reluctant to tell me what they said. I am also reluctant to articulate the message of the sprouts in my attic. Maybe the closest I can come is to say that they were companion plantings.

That these minute life forms were communicating with me seemed unlikely, but obvious at the same time. Clearly, I was affected by them, either because of my own late-winter state of mind or because of their unusual beauty or because of their utter stillness, with which they were telling me about themselves and about myself. In response, I reached out to them in the attic cloister, drawing from them the power I no longer possessed. My anxieties were lifted, my fears taken away. I became part of their secret life, and they a part of mine.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the first week of Early Summer. In the meantime, plant seeds; find the secret life.

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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.