|Poor Will’s Almanack
By Bill Felker
Oct. 30-Nov. 5, 2006
There is the simplified, clarified outdoor world, on a bright November day. The leafless trees are stripped to fundamentals. The horizon is in plain sight and far away. Valleys are broader, their outlines obvious. Hills are somehow higher. It is a bigger world, a world that invites wandering and exploration.
The astronomical calendar for the first week of late fall:
The Skunk Cabbage Moon (which encourages skunk cabbage plants to emerge in the swamps) becomes completely full on Nov. 5 at 7:58 a.m. Rising late in the afternoon and setting before sunrise, the waxing moon is overhead near midnight.
Venus, Mars and Jupiter are clustered together in Libra this month. You may be able to see them just before sunrise deep in the east. Saturn remains in Leo during November, emerging in the middle of the night, moving to the western half of the sky by dawn.
As the Big Dipper circles Polaris, it tells the time of the winter and spring to come. When the Dipper lies due east of the North Star in the evening, its pointers pointing east-west, solstice will mark the year’s darkest days. When the pointers point southeast-northwest, maple sap will be running, and when the Big Dipper is all the way into the southern sky at 10 p.m., its pointers pointing north-south, then crocus and daffodils will be blooming throughout the area.
The South Taurid meteor shower brings shooting stars after midnight between Nov. 1 and 7 in Taurus. The bright, gibbous moon, however, will make it difficult to spot those meteors.
Nov. 6: After mild temperatures in the first few days of November and a relatively weak front on Nov. 2, snow season typically gets underway as the second high-pressure system of November brings the end to the canopy of maple leaves across the region. Ginkgo and white mulberry foliage often comes down when this front is especially fierce.
When ginkgo trees drop their leaves, then look for white mulberry leaves to follow within a week.
When crickets stop singing at night, then carp stop biting in the day (small carp are really quite tasty, once you deal with the bones).
When all the sugar maple leaves come down, then most bird migrations for the year are complete.
When the last aster flower withers in the fields, then grazing season is usually over for livestock.
When mature jade plants bloom in the greenhouse, then beech trees reach full autumn color.
When most of the milkweed pods have opened and ironweed seeds are soft and white, then look for the first sharp winds of early winter.
When goldenrod and thimbleweed are tufted like cotton, then look for witch hazels to come into bloom.
When the sugar beet harvest ends, then climbing bittersweet opens in the woods.
When poinsettias appear in the market, then the crab harvest is taking place along the Pacific coast.
The following weekly guide to lunar position shows when the moon is above (Best times) or below (Second-best times) the country, and therefore the period during which livestock, fish and game are typically most active.
Date, Best, Second-Best
Nov. 1-4, Evenings, Mornings
Nov. 5-11, Midnight-Dawn, Afternoons
Nov. 12-19, Mornings, Evenings
Nov. 20-27, Afternoons, Midnight-Dawn
Nov. 28-31, Evenings, Mornings
Mind and body
The S.A.D. Index, which measures the forces that contribute to seasonal affective disorders on a scale of 1 to 100, climbs to 71 by full-moon day (Nov. 5).
On that day, late autumn S.A.D. is likely in a high percentage of those afflicted with seasonal mood swings.
The third quarter moon is overhead during the evening this week, so it makes sense to hunt and fish at the second-best lunar time, in the mornings (when the moon is beneath the earth). The days prior to the November 2nd and November 6th cold fronts should produce the most fish and game.
As always, keep a record of the results of your outings. Include notes on the weather, time of day, the position of the moon, animal activity (even animals you are not hunting) and hunting or fishing pressure from other people.
I’ve Learned My Lesson by Eunice Hicks, Willard, Ohio
When we lived in Floyd County, Ky., my parents, sisters and I walked down the holler to our neighbors, Joe and his wife. Joe asked Dad if he could help cut up a hog he had killed the day before, and he said he would give Mom $3 if she would wash the family’s clothes. This was in Depression times, and it was hard for poor people like us to make a dollar.
Then the neighbors’ daughters asked me and my sisters to play “join-hands” and go around in a circle and sing “Here We Go Around the Mulberry Bush.” And while we were going around and around, one of the girls said, “There’s Joe’s son coming out the door. He is a mean boy. Look there. He’s got something in his pocket. See the strings hanging out from his back pocket?”
Then as we were going around in circles that boy lit a firecracker and threw it in the ring, and we all scattered. When it was all over, one of the girls had to go to the outhouse. I walked with her, and then here came the boy behind us, and he passed us getting to the outhouse first. In his back pocket those strings were hanging out.
And while he was still there, we looked through a crack in the outhouse and saw him light a firecracker. Then there was a bang and then another and another. Then we heard the boy screaming for help: “Someone help me! I’m on fire!”
We ran to the smokehouse where Dad and Joe were cutting up the hog, and we told them that Joe’s boy was burned bad from firecrackers. They ran as fast as they could to the boy and carried him to the house. He was burned bad on his behind, and they laid him on his stomach and put salve on the burns.
We stayed the night with Joe and his wife. That boy screamed all night he was hurting so bad. Back then people didn’t believe in doctors like we believe in them today, and it took a long time before the boy could walk and heal.
Then one day my sisters and I walked down the holler with Dad to visit our neighbors and see how their son was getting along. He was walking around and said to us: “I will never play with fire crackers again. I’ve learned my lesson.”
Poor Will’s Almanack pays $3 to the author of any story printed in this column. Send your writing to Poor Will, P.O. Box 431, Yellow Springs, OH 45387.
Poor Will’s Scrambler
In order to estimate your SCRAMBLER IQ, award 15 points for each word unscrambled, adding a 50-point bonus for getting all of them correct. If you find a typo, add another 15 points to your IQ.
Here is this week’s rhyming Scrambler:
This farm news was published in the Oct. 25, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.