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Poor Will's Almanack: January 12 - 18, 2020

A possum sits in winter leaves
S. N. Johnson-Roehr (JR)
Flickr Creative Commons

Poor Will’s Almanack for the Third Week of Deep Winter, the first week of the Snow Flea Moon (when snow fleas often appear on the surface of fresh snow), the fourth week of the Sun in Capricorn.

Markers in nature for this period include the cracking of a few pussy willow catkins, the falling of the prickly sweet gum seed balls, the appearance of small, tan moths on mild afternoons, crayfish hunting the swamps when the sun warms the wetlands, juncos beginning to flock in advance of their migration north, and crows starting to move up from the South.

Nighttime excursions of skunks and foxes, an increase in opossum activity, the occasional passage of bluebirds, the mating of owls, and the disappearance of autumn seeds all offer counterpoint to the subdued winter silence and chill.

And the countdown to spring has already begun.

  • One week until the traditional January Thaw time and blue jays give their bell-like mating call.
  • Two weeks remain until cardinals start to sing before dawn.
  • In Three weeks doves join the cardinals, and maple sap starts running
  • In three and a half weeks the first red-winged blackbirds arrive in the wetlands along the 40th Parallel.
  • Four weeks to the very first snowdrop bloom and the official start of early spring
  • Only five weeks lie between now and major pussy willow emerging season
  • Six weeks to crocus season
  • Seven weeks to the beginning of the morning robin chorus before sunrise
  • Eight weeks to daffodil time
  • Nine weeks to the major wildflower bloom
  • Ten weeks until the bright yellow blossoms of forsythia bushes appear

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the last week of Deep Winter. In the meantime, once you start counting, winter just disappears.

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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.