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Poor Will's Almanack: October 29 – November 4, 2013

Flickr Creative Commons user Steve_C

I walked in the late afternoon with Bella, my border collie, the temperature mild, the sky streaked with high cirrus, the sun low and almost white, the woods floor bright with fresh chickweed, moneywort, buttercup, mint, henbit, garlic mustard, some waterleaf and leafcup growing back.

I listened to the wind in the high trees that sometimes shut out the sounds of the highway to the west. I heard the call of one flicker or pileated woodpecker.

I came across a dead vole, sleek and fat, curled on the moss on top of a stone by the path. He looked as if he were sleeping, having found the perfect bed, oblivious to the daylight and to my presence.

At the swamp, below the wet, dead trees, I found new dark green ragwort, dock, purple skunk cabbage, fresh water cress filling the clear rivulets. Bella and I walked across the spongy surface of the marsh on clumps of dead grass and lanky thistles, between the foliage of the April iris, the old stalks of ironweed, disheveled cattails, and the sprawling remnants of angelica.

I remembered the wild ginger here in spring, cowslip and toad trillium in full bloom, buckeyes leafing out, first phlox, toothwort and spring beauties, wild iris up and budding, ferns unraveling, purple and yellow and white violets everywhere

Uncovered by the disappearance of the canopy, time lay out so plain across the land. The absence of the flowers seemed more illusion than truth. The swamp was like the firmament, and its particles were earthstars that revolved around my memory and contained the soul of all those other seasons which preceded and which will follow this season.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the first week of late fall. In the meantime, take a walk …through the park or your yard – and time.

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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.