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Poor Will's Almanack: February 7 - 13, 2017

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Since I came to southwestern Ohio in the late 1970s, I have recorded the dates for many of the earliest snows. There is no scientific method here, but rather a shaping of personal context.

The earliest flurries fell on October 5 of 2014. The first snow of almost half a foot came on October 30 of 1993. On November 11, 1984, I made the first snowball of the winter. This year the first snow, about four inches, arrived on December 13. The latest first snow came on December 31, 1998.

People sometimes ask me if I see patterns that reveal the advance of global warming in these kind of notes. I think that maybe there were more “earliest snow” occurrences in the 1980s and 1990s than in the past few years, but inconsistency seems to be the norm – at least the norm for my casual observations.

Like any diary, a weather or nature diary, can be a collection of souvenirs that, rather than plotting the future or the past, places the writer inside a safe context of memory, allows time for sequencing and reflection, tells more about the recorder than the object of the record, more about emotion than natural history.

While climate change may be occurring in my yard, I am as curious about its effects on my brain as on the habitat. It is my watching and experiencing of the outside events that suggest and then shape what happens inside me. My inner landscape evolves, teaching me love for the land around me.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the transition week to early spring. In the meantime, watch for the effects of climate change….in your head…and heart!

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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.