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Poor Will's Almanack: January 19 - 25, 2016

Moniek van Rijbroek
Flickr Creative Commons

The Sun enters its sign of Aquarius tomorrow, the 20th, foreshadowing late winter. I look around to see what that means here around me:

Starlings whistle in the distance, and a robin is chirping near the north garden. I heard a cardinal off and on between 8:00 and 9:00; soon they will be singing every morning.

Around the yard, I find one new wild strawberry leaf, one new waterleaf sprout. There is fresh growth on the Japanese honeysuckle, leaves dark violet, venturing out from the axils of their woody vines.

The foliage of the oak-leaf hydrangea has fallen in the past two weeks. The Osage fruits have turned deep red-brown. The berries of the euonymus are falling from their decaying, once protective sepals. I cut a branch of pussy willows and bring it indoors, set it in a vase of warm water.

In the woods this afternoon, garlic mustard is lush on the hillsides. In protected hollows, cushions of chickweed are deep March green. Black walnut hulls are dark and collapsing, fall away at the touch of my heel. Young poison hemlock leaves are feathery and spreading. New ragwort and sweet rocket leaves are pushing up. Cautious skunk cabbage spears are just barely open.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack, I’ll be back again next week with notes for the first week of late winter. In the meantime, look around you. As the sun slides into Aquarius, it defines and transforms your landscape.


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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.