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Poor Will's Almanack: December 22 - 28, 2020

A snowy path cuts through fallen leaves in the woods.
Matt Hollingsworth
Flickr Creative Commons

Poor Will’s Almanack for the third week of Early Winter, the Second Week of the Stell Moon (when livestock owners often need to provide stells or shelters for their animals), the first week of the Sun in Capricorn.

Many years ago, I took our two bulldogs out for a walk in the woods along the river. It had snowed a few more inches over night, for a total of several feet in some places, and we were the first to navigate the path.

The dogs worked their way through the high snow, the puppy, six months old, breaking trail with his chest.

The older bulldog was invigorated by the cold, ranged on ahead, leaping fallen trees, racing back from time to time for reassurance and to check the puppy.

Then, at the bend of the river, suddenly there was a whinny of robins and we walked into a large flock that had been here feeding on honeysuckle berries since October.

On both sides of the path, birds fluttered through the undergrowth, calling and playing. I felt surround by and included in two separate societies then; I was part of the flock and, with my dogs, part of the pack.

Making my way through the snow, I thought back about the year I used to take a litter of puppies out through the overgrown fields of a farm I rented. On those walks, I experienced an excitement of belonging forgotten until today's outing in the snow, and I recognize now how important that excitement was and how I miss it.

And I think that when I am lonely, it is because I've slipped too far away from some prerequisite communion, a hard running with the pack, a romp with my clan.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the first week of Deep Winter. In the meantime, you have a clan, somewhere, find it, be with it.

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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.