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Poor Will's Almanack: January 16 - 22, 2018

Will Montague
Flickr Creative Commons

The Frolicking Fox Moon is new today, and it waxes crescent throughout the coming week, entering its second quarter next Tuesday. This is the Moon that carries the Northern Hemisphere deep into the final days Late Winter, tantalizingly close to the first days of Early Spring. This Moon bodes well for the seeding of bedding plants and the earliest tomatoes under lights. It is a pruning moon that encourages making way for new growth. It is a moon that invites me out into the land to try to find the first pieces of the spring.

And leaving Deep Winter’s constellation of Capricorn behind, the Sun moves higher in the daytime sky, entering Aquarius on the 20th, its motion, like that of the Moon,; a gauge of the days with which I can measure the limits of even the deepest snow.

Little by little, the day’s length is approaching a spring-like ten hours along the 40th Parallel, and despite the fact that average temperatures are statistically the lowest of the year, the third week of January often brings a prophetic thaw.

Crows now become more boisterous under the swelling Moon as their migration typically starts this week. Sparrows and starlings court and build nests from now well into the summer. Overwintering robins become more active in the daytime; opossums and raccoons and frolicking foxes become more active at night.

These events and many more subtly transform the feel of the world, alter our sense of  air and habitat in which we spend our days. The mind-body of creatures knows and understands this, even without markers that might be obvious to humans, even without the calendar.

The duration of the cold and darkness itself nurtures anticipation and restlessness. The time of winter, often seeming unbearably long, feeds even by its cruelty, hope and memory  and longing that spread the vague but earnest and exciting message Something new is coming,

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the first full week of Late Winter. In the meantime, listen for the message.

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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.