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Poor Will's Almanack: January 10 -16, 2017

Marty Gabel
Flickr Creative Commons

I am tired and the sky is dark and the wind cold against my windows. The powerful perigee moon is turning full, and sundowning closes around me. I mix myself a drink, take a small bowl of Spanish peanuts and settle in by the wood stove.

Tonight the fire evokes feelings of closeness and affection, estrangement and sadness, creates a distillation of autumn bonfires from my childhood, the smell of burning leaves, smoke and dusk together; family campfires at the beaches, and then over and over the home fires, the banking of the logs before bed, the stirring of the fire before sunrise, the all-day fires that dispelled clouds and snow and storms.

The sense of the fire also has something to do with the ancestors, is the stuff of collective knowing, burrowing through the mazy synapses of my cells, embodied here as well as in ages far away. And so I am aware of an impending and looming terror of the fire’s absence, an ancient embodied knowledge of its importance for survival.

I pull my feelings back to the immediate. I pay attention to the details in front of me, the denim of my pants legs warmed, touching my ankle and calf, the cooler air against my ears but not against my nose, the soot on the stove door.

After a while when I sip my drink, I am disappointed because the ice is melting too quickly. I become disgruntled because my daydream is so temporary. Suddenly, my fingers feel the empty dish beside me. Satori-like, a shock of awareness explodes my reveries: I’ve eaten all the peanuts!

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the third week of deep winter. In the meantime, settle in by the fire – making sure you have enough snacks!

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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.