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Poor Will's Almanack: December 16 - 22, 2014

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Randi Hausken
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Flickr Creative Commons

The shrinking Sandhill Crane Moon wanes throughout the week darkening the longest nights of the year, and continuing to call the cranes to the south, until on the 21st it becomes the Marauding Mouse Moon, the first day of the worst time of rodents in kitchens and basements and attics as those creatures flee from the cold.

That moon becomes new at 8:36 in the evening of the 21st, just 33 minutes later than the official moment of winter solstice, and at the very same time that the sun moves into its deep winter sign of Capricorn.

Free from the light of the shadowy Marauding Mouse Moon, the Ursid Meteors cross the sky in the evening all week, appearing to fly out from the Little Dipper, a small constellation just to the east of the North Star.

And if the days seem hopelessly brief and cold, know that winter has stalled along the Gulf of Mexico. Ocean winds are already shortening the dormancy of trees and shrubs, hurrying the gestation of spring. In central Florida, red maples open, and Jessamine produces its yellow blossoms.

In northern barns under warm lights, pullets that will produce summer eggs are hatching. Outside, new daffodil, crocus, and tulip leaves lie just below the surface of the mulch waiting for March. In the thaws of the new natural year, dock, leafcup, buttercup, mint, ragwort, sweet rocket, plantain, thistles, great mullein, moneywort, red clover, celandine, forget-me-not, wild onion, purple deadnettle, and henbit foliage push every-so-gradually toward April.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the fourth week of early winter and the second week of the Marauding mouse Moon, the first full week of the sun in Capricorn, and the fourth week of the natural year. In the meantime, watch for mice and the Ursid meteors.

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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.