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Poor Will's Almanack: November 13 - 19, 2018

flock of starlings
James Jordan
Flickr Creative Commons

A few weeks ago I was walking through the alley around a quarter after nine in the morning. The maples were just turning then, the serviceberries and the hackberries half down. I could hear starlings and grackles ahead of me.

And within minutes, I came under the cries and the rushing of a great flock. They knew where they were going: southeast, stopping in the branches above me for a just few seconds, calling to one another, looking out above the high canopy, then hurrying, diving on, one after another.

I was swept away and then held tight in their direction and their certainty. They covered me up, it seemed, in their numbers. Their whirring, chortling migration filled the alley and my own misgivings about the season to come.

The tent of this flock's passage was such a safe place against the cold ahead. The coverlet was force enough, fortification against  the daunting approach of the winter. I stood cradled, suspended, enfolded in a blanket of pinions that gave me balance and purpose like the birds themselves must have felt, pulled by time and context out into the autumn sky.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the third week of Late Fall and the third week of the Starling Murmuration Moon. In the meantime, watch for migrating flocks of starlings and grackles. Imagine yourself protected and nurtured by them.

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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.