- By William Felker
Changes in the weather transform the very feel of the world’s presence, altering the medium of awareness in a manner that affects every breathing being in our vicinity. We sometimes refer to such weather phenomena, taken together, as “the elements,” a phrase that suggests how basic, how primary, these powers are to the human organism.
— David Abram, “Becoming Animal, An Earthly Cosmology”
For the second week of deep winter
The Bedding Plant Moon, weakens as it reaches apogee (its position farthest from Earth) at 9:10 p.m. on January 14. At 9:17 p.m. on January 16, this Moon becomes the Frolicking Fox Moon. Rising after midnight and setting in the afternoon, this Moon moves overhead in the morning.
The Sun: Even though the mornings are still so dark, the days are twenty minutes longer this week than they were at Christmas (most of the extra time coming from the later sunsets).
The Planets: Jupiter and Mars are still the morning stars this week. Venus does not appear again until March.
The Stars: If you drive to work before sunrise, check the sky while it is still dark. The brightest star above you will be Arcturus in the constellation Bootes. In the east, the largest stars of the Summer Triangle (Lyra, Deneb and Altair) will be rising with Mars and Jupiter. Mars will be reddish, and Jupiter the largest light of all – except for the thin crescent Moon.
The Shooting Stars: There are no major meteor showers this week.
Weather Trends: With a general increase in the cold, skies have fewer clouds this week of the year, with the 12th, 13th, 15th and 16th bringing a 60 percent chance for sun. The cloudiest day of the week is usually the 14th, with only a 35 percent chance for clearing. Precipitation occurs two years out of three between the12th and the 14th — with the 14th bringing snow to central Ohio more often than any other day of the entire year. New Moon on January 18 is likely to strengthen the cold front due to arrive near that date.
The Natural Calendar: Between the middle of January through the middle of May, spring moves from New Orleans at a rate of about five miles per day or one degree Fahrenheit every four to five days. In keeping with that progress, during milder years, the foliage of crocus, columbine, henbit, catnip, forget- me-not, garlic mustard, dandelion, wild onion, celandine, hemlock and ground ivy expands slowly between cold fronts, revealing the often-overlooked season of winter leaves.
Fish, Game, Livestock and Birds: Nighttime excursions of skunks, the occasional appearance of flies, an increase in opossum activity, the prophetic calls of overwintering robins and the occasional passage of bluebirds are all signs of the progress of Deep Winter towards March.
Hunt and fish prior to the January 15 and 19 cold fronts, and make plans to take advantage of the January thaw period (which usually occurs between the 19th and the 25th). The waning fourth-quarter Moon will be overhead in the morning, making fish and game more likely to be active at that time of day
In the Field and Garden: The main lambing and kidding season begins as January progresses. More lambs and kids are born in the next eight to ten weeks than in any other months.
Prepare flats grow lights for bedding plant seeding when the Moon is darkest, between January 13 and 18.
Consider forage testing for your livestock soon if you suspect that quality is declining.
Some traditional winter supplements for you and your animals include a little whole barely, a teaspoon of molasses in a pint of milk, powdered slippery elm, calcium rich powdered willow bark, flaked oats, powdered seaweed, and mashed raw carrots.
Marketing Notes: The pre-Lenten carnival season begins this week, about one month before Mardi Gras. Explore marketing lambs and kids for cookouts during this period. Investigate recipes for hot-cross buns, traditional pastries enjoyed before the beginning of Christian Lent.
The Almanack Horoscope: Lunar influence will decrease during the first part of the week. Seasonal affective disorders are frequent and strong throughout the month of January, and they could worsen at the approach of the new Moon.
That Moon passes overhead during the morning this week, and its presence should encourage fish to bite and game to be more active at that time, especially as the cold front of January 15 approach.
Rheumatism in animals and people often increases during the winter – and at new and full Moon. Paprika and molasses are considered helpful in reducing the stiffness in animals’ joints. Try it for your own aches and pains, too!
January 12, 2005: Cardinal song was strong near 7:30 this morning, continued off an on through the day. On their walk, Jeanie and Chris saw seven overwintering buzzards – quite a change in the migration pattern of the past century. In the afternoon, the sky cleared a little for the first time all year, and the temperature rose to 64.
I walked the swamp with Bella, my border collie. The river was flooding for the second time in a week (it had receded by the 7th, then rose again after yesterday’s rain). At the landing, the water was fast and muddy, but up the side of the hill, the springs were clear and the vegetation bright. New chickweed covered parts of the bottomland. Sweet rocket and leafcup were lush and tall. Wood mint was coming back. Some skunk cabbage was open.
As I walked along the swamp, a small, pale moth followed me, and I found a large, four-inch crayfish crawling along through the shallow water.
OTHER POOR WILL’S ALMANACK COLUMNS