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Poor Will's Almanack: February 9 - 15, 2021

Today, I was getting ready to leave home when the first robin of the year landed in the ginkgo tree outside my window.

I glanced down to get my coat. When I looked up, there were two robins in the ginkgo. Then three. As I was walking to the car, four more robins flew in front of me.

After supper, a friend called; she'd seen a whole flock of redbreasts gorging themselves on the fruit of the crab apple trees in front of her house.

And so the plot thickens as I realize I’m not alone and that my robins are not the only robins. What I is happening here is happening, actually, throughout the country.

I see just a fragment of the world in my neighborhood; but if I see robins here, I know there are tens of thousands more moving along flyways just above the trees.

The elusive movement of spring suddenly becomes accessible in my small and insignificant place, breaks through my winter stagnation, opens my eyes to more than just birds in the bushes. I take the part for the whole. I can actually see spring in front of me.

Instead of being cloistered by gray skies and the cold, I imagine myself in the center of a vast migration that sweeps the whole continent, freeing me from the prison of winter, portending and predicting everything from daffodils to tulips to iris, even lilies.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the first week of Early Spring. In the meantime, watch for robins, and ride with their migration. They will take you home to summer.

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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.