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Poor Will's Almanack: March 25 - 31, 2014

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March 5th was the first day of Lent, and on that date practicing Christians began a six and a half week vigil for Easter. The Lenten landscape always takes me back to my childhood and to the gray and cold days of waiting for the season to be over. It brings on reminiscence that not only crosses the boundaries of years and snow and the space between winter and spring but also the boundaries of my spiritual or religious upbringing and rebellion and reconciliation.

When I was a boy growing up in Wisconsin, the land gave up very little before Easter. The winters were always long, and I was always restless, and impatient for them to end. Snow still covered the ground most of the time, and there were few signs of the spring to come I remember the purple vestments of the priests on Sundays, the gloomy hymns of Holy Week, all the darkness of prelude to the crucifixion.

In every place or situation, the holographic presence of association has the ability to transform the immediate earth around me into the earth of the past. It seems the imprints are indelible (as they used to tell me in catechism class), and cognitive measures often fail to counteract the sense of distant seasons. Thinking doesn’t help so much, but if I pay attention, I can refashion time with what is happening now: dandelions and aconites, snow crocus and snowdrops in bloom, open pussy willows, maples in flower, nettles tall enough for greens, robin and cardinal song before dawn, red-winged blackbirds whistling their mating territories in the swamp, the first cabbage butterflies hatching in the afternoon sun, the rising Christ of Spring.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the very first week of middle spring. In the meantime remake the world: you have all the materials right around you.

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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.