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Poor Will's Almanack: February 5 - 11, 2019

winter robin
Bryce Mullet
Flickr Creative Commons

A cardinal in the back woodlot sang at 7:12 this morning, crows right behind him. Starlings were all around downtown when I went to get the newspaper at 8:30. Out in the country, the morning horizon was hazy with spring. The roadsides and pastures were almost free of snow, but the wooded areas held on to their cold.

In the afternoon at 4:00, temperature of 45 degrees, the sky robin’s egg blue, I listened to crows and peeping robins and a pileated woodpecker. The frozen river had softened to decaying floes shifting away from shore but still held by the curve of the banks. Under the trees, the melting had revealed thousands of box elder seeds, pale and wet like a new hatch of winged insects.

The path west into the low sun had lost its hard slickness, was slushy and easy to walk. Edges between spring and winter were everywhere. Gaps in the snow cover had opened around scattered tree trunks and plants, showing clumps of oak leaves, chickweed and sweet rocket, ragwort and great mullein, innumerable honeysuckle berries. By the time I got home, dozens of pussy willows were opening along the sidewalk, and the moon was coming up full over my neighborhood, and my yard was silver.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the third week of Late Winter  and the second week of the Skunk Courting Moon. In the meantime, watch for courting skunks wandering the back roads at night. It’s almost early spring.

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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.