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Poor Will's Almanack: November 24 - 30, 2015

Chris Pawluk
Flickr Creative Commons

Sky clear: 55 degrees: Walking slowly through the wetlands, the ground green with chickweed and garlic mustard. You see the squat spears of skunk cabbage a hand high but not open, Moss is long, often gilded with bloom, on stumps and fallen branches. Red berries shine in the barberry. The river is blue from the sky, and sunlight flashes on the water.

Crows call on the other side of the ridge, and chickadees and wrens chatter ahead in the swamp. Starlings chirp and whistle. Two daddy longlegs lie together in the crevice of a rotting log. A startled deer in the cattail tangle crashes toward the river. One winter robin whinies. Way up beyond the highest trees, four buzzards float and watch.

The pure springs that wander through the bottomlands are adorned with dock, ragwort, buttercup and the new grass: the streams are oases of color and sound, never overcome by winter, never browned or dulled, almost never silenced.

Water striders hunt in quiet sloughs, half a dozen ruling a minute inland sea full of fallen leaves and algae, surrounded by foliage of sweet rockets, asters, and miterwort. Where the brooks flow to the river, a wide and deep line of cress shines like an artery of spring.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the final week of late fall. In the meantime, walk the wetland woods. Find the blue water and the flashing sun.

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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.