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Poor Will's Almanack: November 19 - 25, 2019

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My interest in the weather began in 1972 with the gift of a barometer.  My wife, Jeanie, gave the instrument to me when I was succumbing to the stress of school in Knoxville, Tennessee, and it became not only an escape from intense academic work, but the first step on the road to a different kind of awareness about the world.

From the start, I was never content just to watch the barometric needle. I was fascinated by the alchemy of my charts and graphs that turned rain and Sun into visible patterns, symbols like notes on a sheet of music.

From my graphs of barometric pressure, I saw that major high-pressure systems move across the United States an average of once every five to six days, and approximately 80 significant highs cross the Mississippi River in a year.

A short apprenticeship told me when important changes would occur and what kind of weather would take place on most any day. The pulse of the world was steadier than I had ever imagined.

The more I learned about the natural cycles in and around my home, the more I found applicable to the world beyond its limits.  The microclimate in which I immersed myself gradually became a key to the extended environment; the part unlocked the whole.  My backyard gnomon that measured the movement of the Sun along the ecliptic also measured my relationship to every other place on Earth.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the fourth week of Late Fall.  In the meantime, be wherever you are, that’s the way you might measure the whole world.

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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.