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Poor Will's Almanack: October 1 - 7, 2019

Heather Kaiser
Flickr Creative Commons

Yesterday, I went walking, found seed heads everywhere, dry rose petals, red rose hips I should have pruned, withered hydrangea blossoms covered in spiderwebs, Joe Pye weed bushy and brown like the burdock beside it, three blue spiderwort flowers blossoming out of season, hops heavy across the euonymous, oodles of black redbud seeds like manes in the branches, the soft green seeds of the fierce wood nettle, new waterleaf leaves, mottled grape vines, red crab apples bigger than I'd ever noticed before, stiff and prickly burrs of purple coneflowers, the unusual brightness of honeysuckle berries in the afternoon light.

All things around me seemed benign and soothing: a handful of soft, dark red raspberries from the patch that failed to produce much of anything this year, crabgrass gone to seed, its claws not threatening but  protective, the summer mallow crumbling away, a skipper and a naked lady butterfly and a cabbage white ruffled by the breeze in the zinnias, the white fall crocus half drooped, the highest branches of the hackberry bare, honeybees climbing in the asters, and the chirping and chirping of sparrows north of the garden.

As I walked, the wind picked up, pushing fat cumulus clouds so fast, and I felt surrounded and safe within an enclosure of motion and sound. All of a sudden the air was cold and clouds moved over me, and the afternoon turned cruel and hollow. Then just as quickly there was sun again, and I felt at home and at peace.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the first week of Middle Fall. In the meantime, take a walk, or just look around, write down everything you see.

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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.