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Poor Will's Almanack: January 3 - 9, 2017

Nancy Girard Bégin
Flickr Creative Commons

Although winter may seem long and gray, its progress slowly unravels spring. A natural calendar offers reassurance that the coldest days of the year will really and truly lead to warmth.

Next week, on January 11, the sun rises earlier for the first time since the middle of June.
January 23 is the average date of the midwinter thaw.
On January 26: Cardinals begin their spring mating songs, and deep winter ends.
On the 28th Average temperatures start to rise one degree per week.
On February 1: Doves start to call after sunrise.
On February 14: Red-winged blackbirds arrive in wetlands.
And then February 17 is winter's Cross Quarter Day: The sun is halfway to equinox.  
marking the start of early spring, a six-week period that gradually brings the landscape to life.
Ten days later,  Snowdrops, aconites and snow crocus often bloom.
On March 4: Pussy willows are usually completely open.
On March 8: Earliest daffodils flower.
On March 10: Robins begin their predawn chorus
And then March 20 is equinox: Pollen appears on pussy willow catkins.
Within a week, mourning cloak butterflies test their wings and Cabbage butterflies come looking for nectar.
On March 30: May apple spears rise up in the woods to prophesy morel mushroom time.
And then on March 31: The first hepatica, bloodroot, bluebells, Dutchman's britches, twinleaf and toothwort all come into bloom, ending the three-month vigil for middle spring.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the second week of deep winter. In the meantime, be of good cheer: deep winter is simply the way to spring.

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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.