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Poor Will's Almanack: November 4 - 10, 2014

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The stars are a steady, accessible natural calendar and reveal the state of the landscape as well as the weather or trees or plants. With an inexpensive star chart or a sky map from the Internet, you can tell the time of year from your own yard, watch the sky bring on late autumn, early winter, deep winter, later winter, early spring.

Easily manipulated, such a map can twist the fate of time to our private purposes. Early in the nights of late fall, the east is filled with omens of winter, Orion rising out of the horizon forecasting cold and snow and bitter winds. All the powerful stars of summer, Cygnus and Vega and Aquila, are setting.

But turning the star wheel just far enough, or – without any wheel at all – if a person would simply get up and watch the sky before first light, he or she would see the last of Orion and the snow. In their place: the evening sky of April, the sky of bluebells and daffodils and chanting robins and cardinals: the Big Dipper rounding Polaris and opening all the flowering fruit trees, bright Regulus, the star of tulips, overhead, and the corn planting star, Arcturus, leading on mighty Hercules and spring.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the second week of late fall and the fourth week of the Toad and Frog Migration Moon, the fourth week of the sun in autumnal Scorpio. In the meantime, in morning dark, find the stars of spring.

Poor Will’s Almanack for 2015 is now available. For a sample of this new annual, and for information on how to order your copies, visit www.poorwillsalmanack.com.

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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.