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Poor Will's Almanack: January 22 - 28, 2019

seed on snow
Stanley Zimny
Flickr Creative Commons

By this point in January, enough small changes have accumulated, in spite of the severe weather, to move the season into Late Winter, the anteroom to Early Spring, growing the birdsong that will fill the mornings of March, rousing small mammals to courtship.

Now comes the close of windfall seding. The red honeysuckle berries have long ago fallen or been taken by birds. The orange fruit of the evergreen winterberry has completed its planting. Hawthorn berries give way. Overwintering robins eat and scatter the crab apples.

Migrant crows join the resident crows. Juncos cluster, readying for migration north. Often riding the winds of thaw, flocks of starlings leave cutover fields to cluster in town, sometimes accompanied by robins and blackbirds. The tufted titmouse calls most every morning, and precocious male cardinals cry out to set their territories before sunup. Owls lay eggs. Skunks and opossums look for mates.

In order to try to understand the dramatic e’ffects of these events, in order to turn the lean narrative of late January into spring, I look between the lines, drift off a little as I read the signs. Having experienced spring before, reliving the rebirth through memory, I anticipate and fantasize. I tell a new story, stepping from one marker to another, making sense.

I try to fashion the landscape according to my daydream. Then the season becomes an imaginary constructs, a personal projection, a reconfigurations of past time into time to come.

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  and the final week of the Squashy Osage Fruit Moon. In the meantime, read the signs and remember all the things about to happen.

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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.