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Poor Will's Almanack: August 13 - 19, 2013

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Poor Will’s Almanack for the second week of Late Summer
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Once when my wife was in the hospital and we were waiting for her to be discharged, we ran out of words and thoughts, and we ended up just watching the lanky altostratus clouds that slowly moved across the sky outside her window.

It was a muggy and windless day in July, and the clouds barely moved or changed their shapes. Sometimes they seemed like animals, sometimes they didn’t. Sometimes they gradually faded back into the haze or disappeared into the dark green trees of the horizon below them.

Eventually, we divided them up, chose which clouds were mine and which were hers. Sometimes mine seemed to move faster than hers. Sometimes hers seemed to move faster than mine.

There was no point to any of our judgments except that they focused us outside the room, outside the waiting, and we accepted that nothing was actually happening. And it was all right that nothing was happening.

Now these summer days, I watch sleepy, languid clouds with more intent than I ever did before. When the weather is sultry and still, they remind me of the arbitrary shapes of that one July afternoon, and I think about a new awareness in me that has prompted resolutions - like to always play with my dog when she wants to play and to always give my cat the most expensive cat food just because he likes it.

The clouds this year have the same lessons to teach me about patience and waiting and expectations and caring, about what is happening and what is not happening. And their most important lesson is very simply that there may be nothing better than watching them with the person next to me.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the third week of late summer. In the meantime, of course, In the meantime, of course, play with your dog, feed your cat the finest food, find a partner, any partner: watch the clouds together.

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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.