We are born and placed among wonders and surrounded by them, so that to whatever object the eye first turns, the same is wonderful and full of wonders, if only we will examine it for a while.
— John de Dondis, 14th Century
The Frolicking Fox Moon, a Supermoon just two days ago, wanes throughout the week, entering its last quarter at 10:54 a.m. on February 7. Rising in the evening and setting in the morning, this Moon brightens the night all week.
The Sun: By the end of February’s first week, the sun reaches more than 30 percent of the way to spring equinox.
The Planets: Find Jupiter and Mars in the southeast before dawn in Libra. Saturn follows both of those planets in Sagittarius. Venus is not visible this winter.
The Stars: After dark, the Big Dipper lies in the eastern sky this week. Watch it turn counterclockwise throughout the night, moving overhead by 2:00 a.m. and into the far west before sunrise.
The Shooting Stars: No major meteor showers occur this week.
Weather Trends: The strong lunar position at the end of January is likely to delay or negate the Groundhog Day Thaw that often characterizes the early days of February. And February 3 is one of the February days most likely to bring dangerous storms to the Ohio Valley.
The Natural Calendar: The seasonal clock has advanced by the span of two Moons since the last leaves fell to the ground. The first weeds and wildflowers were already rising slowly through December and January: hemlock, lamium, garlic mustard, creeping Charlie, sweet rockets, sweet Cicely, dock, skunk cabbage, wood mint, watercress, mouse-eared chickweed. Now they lie in wait for the strongest thaws. The tips of snowdrops and snow crocus have emerged; they are waiting, too.
Fish, Game, Insects, Livestock and Birds: Cardinals have begun to sing all day. Deer gather throughout the month to feed in herds. Turkeys are flocking now; they will disband and scatter into smaller family groups by April. Bees come looking for skunk cabbage when the temperature warms to 50 degrees. Creatures should be most active a little past midnight with the Moon overhead, or in the early afternoon, with the Moon below the region. Do your fishing at those times, especially as the barometer drops in advance of the cold front due in February’s first week. And if you have pregnant sheep or goats, the Moon’s third quarter (the week after full Moon), is the lunar period most likely to bring early birthing.
In the Field and Garden: Continue frost seeding of pastures and seeding of bedding plants and hardy vegetables. Be ready for possible drought by making sure your soil has sufficient potassium and phosphorus. Prepare flats for planting flowers at new Moon in the middle of the month
Marketing Notes: Passover occurs on March 30 through April 7 this year. The Jewish market typically is best after religious holidays come to a close. Milk-fed lambs and kids below 60 pounds are favored for the this market. Lamb stew is a traditional Seder dish at Passover Seder dinners.
The Almanack Horoscope: The pollen season, which began with the pollination of pine trees, now intensifies across the South with the blooming of mountain cedar, acacia, smooth alder, bald cypress, American elm, red maple, white poplar and black willow. Bluegrass, which stopped flowering in midsummer, revives and starts its seeding cycle. When warm Gulf winds bring thaws across Clark County, all this pollen comes along, too.
February 4, 2017: Clear and 10 degrees: Audrey wrote at 3:35: “A flock of eastern bluebirds appeared in our backyard this afternoon. Four males and at least one female (we were slower to identify the dun-colored females). They were gorgeous! They stayed quite a few minutes on the low branches of our redbuds, on our clothesline and on the neighbor’s fence, flitting a bit among these but also perching quietly.”
February 5, 2017: A mild 36 degrees and scattered clouds, only a slight breeze, I went out around the neighborhood at 7:15, heard the first bird (song sparrow) at 7:21, a house sparrow at 7:25, crows at 7:33, cardinal call notes in the backyard honeysuckles at 7:39, the first dove at 7:41, a distant male cardinal at 7:42. As I walked, I saw the sun shining on contrails, soft gold above the dawn. This afternoon in the garden, a few white pussy willows were open, bright against the deep blue sky. No bluebirds, though. Maybe tomorrow.
OTHER POOR WILL’S ALMANACK COLUMNS
Poor Will’s Almanack for 2018 is still available. Order yours from Amazon, or, for an autographed copy, order from www.poorwillsalmanack.com. You can also purchase Bill Felker’s new book of essays, “Home is the Prime Meridian,” from those websites.