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Poor Will's Almanack: December 17 - 23, 2019

winter solstice sunrise
It's No Game
Flickr Creative Commons

Almost all the leaves are down, the old year spent and scattered. Even as storms bring wind and snow to close this season, the defiant and prophetic buds of pussy willows grow fat,

A new year is beginning. It is time to watch for spring.

  • This is solstice week, the sun reaching its lowest point on the horizon, on December 22, hovering there before it begins to rise once more toward summer.
  • Just one more week until start of Deep Winter 
  • Two more weeks until the tufted titmouse begins its mating calls and pines start to pollinate.
  • Three more weeks until the days begin to lengthen, owls nest and foxes mate
  • Four weeks until the traditional January Thaw time, and blue jays give their bell-like mating call and cardinals consistently call out their territories before dawn
  • Five weeks until the beginning of Late Winter, and day’s length surpasses ten hours and skunk cabbage blooms in the wetlands
  • Six  weeks until doves join the cardinals, and maple sap is running
  • Seven weeks until the first red-winged blackbirds arrive in wetlands and daylight extends to six in the evening
  • Eight weeks to the major pussy willow emerging season  and the official start of Early Spring
  • Nine weeks to snowdrop season in the garden and snow trillium season along the rivers
  • Ten weeks to the morning robin chorus before sunrise

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the third week of Early Winter. In the meantime, if you can’t wait for all these things, just watch the sun come in your window. It will gradually recede from its farthest point through the months ahead, pointing the way to 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.