Start counting pussy willows

Jan 04, 2018
  • By William Felker
Yellow Springs resident Bill Felker has offered his take on the world of nature for years through radio spots and the written word. THOMAS GNAU/STAFF

Different atmospheric conditions — different kinds of weather- are, precisely different moods. Wind, rain, snow, fog, hail, open skies, heavy overcast — each…affects the relation between our body and the living land in a specific way, altering the tenor of our reflections and the tonality of our dreams.

— David Abram, Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology

For the first week of deep winter

The Bedding Plant Supermoon, full and at perigee (its position closest to Earth) on January 1 began the New Year with all its power, pushing Deep Winter into the Ohio Valley. It wanes throughout the week, entering its final quarter at 5:25 p.m. on January 8.

The Sun: Sunrise remains at the same time until January 11, when the sun finally starts to rise a little earlier.

The Planets: Jupiter and Mars are still the morning stars as 2018 begins. Look for them in the southeast in Libra.

The Stars: In order to tell the time of year, you can watch the Big Dipper travel around the North Star. In January nights, the Dipper is high in the northeastern sky. It gradually turns counter-clockwise throughout the winter, lying directly overhead after dark when daffodils flower in April.

POOR WILL’S CLARK COUNTY ALMANACK: New Year’s first full moon brings a deep winter chill

The Shooting Stars: Only a few last Quadrantids might be visible after midnight.

Weather Trends: January in Clark County usually produces an average of nine days in the 20s, three days with highs only in the teens, and one day when the temperature does not get above ten degrees. There is almost always one mild day during the month, sometimes up to ten. About 12 days are in the 30s, and there can be up to five days in the 40s and 50s. An average of two mornings dip below zero (the 9th and the 11th being the days most likely to see such cold).

There are ten to 15 afternoons when highs stay below freezing, and often those days come together, creating the definitive freeze of middle winter. The worst spells fall between the 1st and the 20th. Major storms are most likely to occur around January 1, 8-12, and 19-24.

The coldest January days usually fall between the 7th and the 10th, as well as between the 15th and the 18th. New Moon on January 16 and full Moon on January 31 are likely to intensify the weather systems due around those dates.

The Natural Calendar: In the greenhouse, the season of jade tree bloom is over as camellia season spreads across the Deep. Throughout much of North America, fox mating season and coyote mating season take place as owl nesting season develops. Pine pollination season adds pine pollen to the south winds. Sparrows become even louder as sparrow courting season follows the lengthening days.

Now is the time to start a daily check of the pussy willows. Their opening keeps time for the year; each cracking catkin tells of spring’s approach. If you see the green tips of snowdrops emerging from the garden, measure them before they are covered with snow; then, measure the approach of March as they slowly grow. And if you have made a twelve-week “Advent” wreath, today marks the end of the fifth week. When the twelfth week is over, the chilly but promising season of Early Spring will have begun.

Fish, Game, Livestock and Birds: Lunar influence will be strong throughout this week, increasing the possibility of abortions in weaker mammals, especially when the Moon is overhead after midnight and as the barometer falls near the January 5 and 10 cold fronts.

Owls are nesting now, preparing to lay their eggs at the beginning of late winter. They warm the nest for about a month, and the owlets hatch in the uncertain weather of February or early March. By then, the cardinals that announce the close of Deep Winter around the 25th of January are in full song.

In the Field and Garden: January 8 is Plough Monday, the traditional beginning of the farm and garden year. In the week ahead, continue to put in bedding plant seeds as the Moon darkens. Seed cold-weather broccoli, kale, collards, cabbage and celery for setting out in Early Spring. Test a sample of old seeds for germination. Order supplies for February pasture seeding, spring oats and barley.

Marketing Notes: Epiphany (Three-Kings Day) occurs on January 6 or the Sunday closest to the 6th. Many Roman and Orthodox Christians celebrate this holy day with food.

The Almanack Horoscope: Pine trees have started to pollinate: Allergy Season begins, presenting challenges to people susceptible to colds and flu. Since the full Moon is associated with an increase in physical and psychological challenges, don’t be surprised at sickness or erratic behavior in friends and family.

Countdown to Spring

OTHER POOR WILL’S ALMANACK COLUMNS

Supermoon rings in the New Year

With winter is here, sunset comes a little later in Clark County

Fall welcomes the Apple Cider Moon, Leonid meteors

Daylight Saving Time comes to an end

First chance for snow flurries