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Poor Will's Almanack: December 12 - 18, 2017

Logan Ingalls
Flickr Creative Commons

If you go outside an hour or so before Sunrise, look up to find the Big Dipper high overhead, its winter position before dawn Like the hands of a great clock, the Dipper's motion around the North Star tells the time of year.  When it lies in the west before Sunrise, daffodils will be in bloom. With the Dipper deep along the Southern horizon in the early morning, lilies and roses flower. And when it has moved to the eastern sky, the first leaves are starting to turn for autumn.

And now the Dipper is overhead in the morning, forecasting cold and snow. But it not only presides over the predawn darkness of the cruelest time of year, it pulls up the Paperwhite Moon that wanes crescent through its final quarter all week, rising in the early morning and setting in the evening, sometimes preceding and sometimes following the morning stars Jupiter and Mars in Libra and then on December 18, that Moon becomes completely dark and turns into the Bedding Plant Moon, announcing one of the finest planting times of the winter.

So, under all those celestial events, you have a full week to get ready to set up a grow light close to a table and get some potting soil and a few seeds and some type of tray or container. Then if you keep the seeds moist and warm, you can watch them sprout and become the first green shoots of spring.

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, get ready for new Moon. And if you don't plant seeds, buy a Christmas cactus or an African violet or just bring in a weed from the garden…. and talk to it about 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.