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Poor Will's Almanack: June 17 - 23, 2014

Terry Dunn
Flickr Creative Commons

From the middle of May until early July, the days are the longest of the year.

And the abundance and the lushness of these days may have us wonder if life is not actually measured in quantity, measured like the longest days.

The absence of leaves and flowers and grass and warmth in winter is beautiful only in the context of its covenant with rebirth. An appreciation of snow and empty branches rises primarily from an aesthetic that values cold and dissolution only if their opposites are certain. And we find consolation in natural history like we find consolation in our own history, in recollection of our finest, longest days.

Summer is measured in the experience of bounty; memory and longing are always second best. And so we measure these endless days of the sun not so much with technological astronomy as with abundance: with catalpa and water willow blossoms, with dark sweet black raspberries, with buds on the milkweed, with the setting fruit of the oaks, Osage orange, hickory and black walnut trees, with bright day lilies and butterfly weed and hollyhocks and sweet clover and hostas and wild petunias, with the ripening of winter wheat, with the maturity of this year’s ducklings and goslings, with damselflies mating in the waterways: all signs and sacraments of our own personal summer.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Miami Valley Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the first week of middle summer. In the meantime, all the things you see in this one day are part of the fabric of the longest and best days of all – and part of the gauge of your own best times.

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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.