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Poor Will's Almanack: October 14 - 20, 2014

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The sun seems to move lower and lower these days, rising further in the southeast, setting further in the southwest, about to abandon its residence in the boxy constellation of Libra.

Now the Summer Triangle with its brightest stars, Deneb, Lyra and Altair, has moved deep into the west after dark, following the lead of Mars in Scorpius. From the eastern horizon, the Pleiades, the seven sisters of the winter, are rising, leading on the red eye of Taurus and Orion’s vast shield.

The Hickory Nutting Moon, all dark and cold, comes up after midnight, drifting overhead, almost invisible throughout the morning, passing apogee – its position farthest from Earth – and, on Saturday, the 18th, it appears to almost touch Jupiter, the morning star.

By now all the forest fruits are down, the hickory nuts and the black walnuts and the buckeyes and the acorns. They lie in the leaves of the sycamores and the box elders and the cottonwoods and the hackberries among the shattered nettles and wingstem and pokeweed and snakeroot.

Even so, and in spite of the falling leaves , in our homes, in our retreats from the fading sun in Libra, we shelter our disbelief and defiance: the Christmas cactus brought in from the summer, begins to bud. Herbs and hardy flowers saved from the frost remember August, and the earliest bedding plants of 2015 are sprouting in their warm beds.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the third week of middle fall and the first week of the Toad and Frog Migration Moon, the first week of the sun in Scorpio. In the meantime, get up before dawn and watch Jupiter shadow the dying Hickory Nutting Moon.

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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.