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Poor Will's Almanack: December 13 - 19, 2016

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In The Emerald Tablet, an ancient text by Hermes Trismegistus, the author attempts to explain the astrological mysteries of the cosmos. The work contains the phrase: “As above, so below.”

Indeed the land does reflect the sky above it, and the Earth watcher can crete constellations and story no less than the astrologer. Both observers are “horoscopers,” or time trackers, who make shapes, signs and sense from scattered, arbitrary elements.

The seasonal horoscope of the landscape around us is no less loaded with possibilities for alignments and predictions than a horoscope of fate and influence made from the sky by fortunetellers and psychics.

Zeitgebers ( or events and objects that tell the time of year)in the second week of winter mirror the high markers of the stars: the deepest cold follows Orion after dark; the end of mating season for white-tailed deer announces Taurus in the middle of the night sky; the close of bird migration tells of Sirius, the giant Dog Star that brings both snow and ice in January and heat when it shines at midday in the summer.

As distant and unimaginable as the movements of the firmament seem, so close and tangible and countable are the events of the immediate landscape. Starlike, those events gleam in their earthy setting, pointing to the hour of the year. The constellations of lanky, empty branches follow and reflect in mirror the high astrology of the sun.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the third week of early winter. In the meantime, touch the stars. They are all around you.

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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.