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Poor Will's Almanack: February 21 -27, 2017

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My home is my observatory. Near winter solstice, the sun comes up just on the other side of the Danielsons’ house  across the street (as far south as it ever rises) and it shines in to the north wall of my home office, lies across the bed in the green bedroom.

At spring and autumn equinox, the sun rises directly over Lil’s house, through my east windows all the way through my office to the west wall of the hall and the living room and the green bedroom. And at summer solstice, the sunrise over Jerry and Lee’s house (as far north as it ever rises) lights the south wall of my office, and the south wall of the green bedroom and the living room.

Sometimes I make pencil marks on the walls, with dates of the different intrusions of light. On December 20, I check the mark I made years ago, the winter solstice mark that shows how far the noonday sun reaches through my south windows.

All of this solar history and its occasional penciling create the scaffolding for my personal astronomy. Here, the Earth does not so much circle the Sun as the Sun circles through the corners of my house. My home is the center of the cosmos. It is also a repeating map of my history, memories following the shadows through the rooms.

The larger world of my neighborhood is clear enough through my windows. The passage of the sun tells me all I need to know about the universe beyond. Grounded in private lessons, I can walk outside if I want, leaving all the solar guides behind, knowing who and where I am.    

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the third week of early spring. In the meantime, practice astronomy; go home.

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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.