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Poor Will's Almanack: December 10 - 16, 2019

bare trees on a cloudy winter sky
Flickr Creative Commons

I wander into the fields and woods this soft and cloudy morning.

Clover is keeping the paths green, along with some dandelions, some plantain. Wind rustles the dry grass and the brittle leaves. I can hear distant crows but no other birds for the first miles. Then the whinny of a robin as though it were frightened or had been attacked.

Craneflies follow me up into High Prairie. Moss is still bright beside me, becomes the dominant green in the woods. A few red raspberry branches and a bank of honeysuckles keep their leaves.

Nettles, protected by wild roses, grow back in the valley. Teasel is dark and stiff in the dull goldenrod fields.

The fruits of the Osage tree are all yellow on the ground. The lichens lie on the rocks, pale greens and pastels.

Then I watch the landscape down the valley: bands of grays and browns above a sky of stratus clouds strangely glowing from the hidden sun. The trees are black, pasture chartreuse: a cross section of the winter, veins of this particular time.  On the footbridge, walnut hulls, have been shredded by squirrels, staining the wood purple.

Coming back, I hear a pair of flickers; they screech then fly off toward the river. Near the water, I startle three small tan moths that struggle to escape through the cold.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the first full week of Early Winter.  In the meantime, watch the fragments of the old year. Now they are becoming the pieces of a new season, Early Winter, the first season of the New Year.


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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.