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Poor Will's Almanack: January 9 - 15, 2018

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It seems that the world lies too still and too deathly quiet in the middle of Deep Winter, but the Sun finally starts to rise earlier this week, finally cutting away at the length of the nights, complementing the sunset times that have been been occurring later just a little every few days since the middle of December.

The Bedding Plant Moon, weakens the meteorological tides as it reaches apogee (its position farthest from Earth) on January 14.

And then on January 16, this Moon becomes the Frolicking Fox Moon, the prophet of mating and…. frolicking…not only for foxes but for other small woodland creatures like skunks, raccoons, opossums and squirrels, even owls.

Sometimes, stirred by the Flocking Fox Moon, flies and cabbage butterflies emerge in a warm greenhouse. Overwintering robins evoke March and April with their whinnies. Sometimes pale brown Asian ladybeetles crawl from their hibernation near your windows, bringing good fortune and announcing the coming of the January thaw.

And the Sun, quickly climbing higher in the sky (even though it seems to take forever) carries spring up from New Orleans at a rate of about five miles a day or one degree Fahrenheit every four to five days.

It’s not so hard to do the math, at least for the central and eastern states. Early spring approaches Jackson, Mississippi and Montgomery, Alabama in a few days, and in another month, maybe five miles times 40 from today, it could be up past Memphis, Atlanta and Savannah. In March, it travels north to St. Louis and Kansas City, east to Louisville and then to the ocean. And by the end of April, it has climbed to Chicago and Pittsburgh, Washington D.C. Philadelphia, New York, arriving in Minnesota and the Dakotas and even in Maine by the end of May.

Knowing the rules of the sun and space, we can travel to whatever season we wish, or wait in confidence that all will soon by green and new.

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, drive south. Or stay home. It’s good either way.

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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.