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Poor Will's Almanack: February 3 - 9, 2015

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Blossom Vydrina
/
Flickr Creative Commons

The seasonal clock has advanced by the span of three moons since the last leaves fell to the ground. The first weeds and wildflowers of 2015 were already rising slowly through November and December: hemlock, lamium, garlic mustard, creeping Charlie, sweet rockets, sweet Cicely, dock, skunk cabbage, wood mint, watercress, mouse-eared chickweed. And now, the tips of snowdrops and snow crocus and daffodils have emerged.

Here in the middle of late winter, it is not too late to sink a ruler against a few these plants to track their upward progress. And it is the time to start a daily count of how many pussy willow catkins have started to unfold. Only three more major cold fronts of late winter are due across the Lower Midwest and Middle Atlantic states, striking like strokes of a pendulum, often leaving thaw in their wake, pulling open the catkins, tugging on the foliage waiting in the ground.

We live in the middle of these and so many other events, and each of us and each event occur and reside in sync so that when we see one, we need not see the other to know what time it is. The clock of the year is a model of synecdoche; that is, any of its parts reflects the whole stride of the Earth.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back next week with notes for the third week of late winter, the final week of the Skunk and Opossum Moon and the fourth week of the sun in Aquarius. In the meantime, place a ruler against one daffodil or snowdrop sprout. Measure spring coming right there.

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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.