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Poor Will's Almanack: December 8 – 14, 2020

Orange leave in water
Kathy McGraw
Flickr Creative Commons

I meditate along the river in the afternoon, my mind a reflection of what I see:

Sun in and out between gray-blue clouds; one mallard duck on the water, two kingfishers chasing back and forth, sparrows in the honeysuckles, milkweed pods half open, their disheveled seeds hanging in the wind.

Fat Osage fruits yellowing, broken and scattered by squirrels or opossums, parsnips burned from frost, goldenrod in tufts, woodpeckers rattling on the far side of the field; at the swamp, skunk cabbage six inches high. Sharp black crescents of sweet Cicely seedpods. Bearded thistles sagging, teasel strong and stiff, angelica breaking apart, hollow leaning wingstem with its leaves bent tight around its stalks, asters coming undone.

Leafcup burned by the cold, dock, garlic mustard and dame’s rocket limp. Buds of the maples prominent, seed wings still hanging from the box elders.

Pale champagne golds of the field grass, russets of the Japanese knotweed, red honeysuckle berries and red rose hips, oak bark black and shining from the morning’s rain, white sycamores, purple raspberry stalks, all reflected in the low river so still that it takes each object and color without distortion, holding them together among charcoal branches and the alternate bright and dull waves of sky.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the second week of Early Winter. In the meantime, stand for just a moment’s meditation, just seeing.

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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.