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Poor Will's Almanack: February 11 - 17, 2020

Cardinal in tree
Thomas Dwyer
/
Flickr Creative Commons

I write this from Sarasota, Florida: Complete semi-tropical habitat, no sign of winter. Looking back over today’s daybook from home in Ohio, I see how all the notes reach south, look forward.

The notations from the cold, Midwestern years are fragments of longing as well as projections, reachings toward, visualizing, collecting pieces of the puzzle of spring, knowing that the completion is only a matter of distance or circumstance or decision, realizing that the details of February – such as cardinal song or the sighting of bluebirds or the gathering of geese or the appearance of snowdrop tips pushing through the mulch – are almost artificial constructs, a toying with promises and signs, the fulfillment of which already exists only a few hundred miles away.

I am reminded of the time I was stationed at Fort Clayton in Panama half a century ago, a trip to Bogota, Colombia in the Andes surprised me with the change in altitude and temperature, showed me that the thick, moist air of the tropics was simply downhill from the sharp chill of the mountains.

And when I visited my daughter Neysa in Italy in 2010 and we drove up the foothills of the Apennines from the wildflowers of  May back into the wildflowers of April to buy cheese from shepherds, I felt the same sense of dislocation, felt again the contradiction of expectations, the confusion from landscape forming warps in my consciousness, revealing to me once again the unreliability of perspective and the illusion of stability.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the first week of Early Spring. In the meantime, think about time as place, place as time.

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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.