|Poor Will’s Almanack
By Bill Felker
November 13-19, 2006
Now the last leaves are down, except for the thick, dark leaves of the oak and ghostly beech leaves that click in the breeze, and we’re reduced to a subtler show of color - brown, gray, and buff, perhaps a little purple in the distance, and the black-green of moss, hemlock, and fir. To my eye these hues are more beautiful than the garish early autumn with its orange leaves - orange, the color of madness - and leaves the color of blood. Let hot life retire, grow still: November’s colors are those of the soul.
The astronomical calendar for the third week of late fall:
The Skunk Cabbage Moon wanes throughout the remainder of the week, becoming the new Orchid Moon at 5:18 p.m. on Nov. 20. Rising after midnight and setting in the afternoon, this moon is overhead in the late morning and early afternoon.
By the end of the week, the sun will have passed its declination of 18 degrees, and will be three-fourths of the way to winter solstice. At about 9 p.m., Hercules and summer’s Aquila are setting. Cassiopeia is moving east around Polaris, and Sirius is visible at the tree line, its magnitude of -1.4 making it the brightest light in the night sky.
Nov. 20: This weather system can be followed by single digits along the Canadian border and by a hard freeze deep into the South. This year, however, the waning moon will tend to soften this front, hopefully providing relatively stable conditions for early Thanksgiving travelers.
Nov. 24: Look for rain as this system approaches for Thanksgiving.
Best fishing and hunting
The moon will be dark throughout the period, barely visible overhead in the middle of the day. That lunar position is favorable for midday hunting and fishing, and it will contribute to even more chances to find food as the barometer falls in advance of the November 16th and November 20th cold fronts.
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, rises into the 70s this week as the moon darkens, reaching a high of 75 on Nov. 20 and 21. The last time the Index climbed into the 70s was in the middle of March.
When the last monarch butterfly of the year leaves your garden, then honeysuckle leaves are almost all down, red honeysuckle berries prominent throughout the understory.
When bluebirds disappear south, then sparrow hawks appear on the high wires, looking for mice in the fields.
When you find parsnips and fields of late dandelions blooming, then look for snow within a week and the end of rose of Sharon and red mulberry foliage.
After you rake up all those leaves, feed the lawn - fall is a better time than in the spring - the winter’s rain and snow, freezing and thawing, will gently work the fertilizer through the soil. Then, mulch the wet perennial beds to prevent drying, January’s heaving, and cold damage.
When starlings flock together in the woodlots, then next year’s skunk cabbage pushes up through the mud of the wetlands.
When you see cabbage butterflies in late fall and early winter, be sure to check your collards, kale and broccoli for green caterpillars.
Blizzard by Jeff Crawford, Cedarville, Ohio
“My legs are all fuzzy and my feet are spiked.”
That’s what my five-year-old daughter said after I carried her on my shoulders across the frozen field.
And why was I doing that? Well, because of the blizzard of 1977.
We lived at the end of a half-mile long lane off Port William-Paintersville Road. Rough weather was forecast for that Sunday and I spent the day watching NFL playoff games.
As the snow started that evening, I went out to break a path down the lane with our 1965 Chrysler New Yorker. No Ohio snow could withstand that beast of a Motown car.
I got a running start and the New Yorker held its own for a bit. Then, like a whale on a beach, it came to a sudden stop. And there wasn’t going to be any backing up either, at least not until morning.
Before tackling the car, I decided to walk to Port William. I noticed that I was walking on top of the snowdrifts. I could kick and jump up and down and not break through.
These drifts were unlike any I’d seen: solid all the way down. I never knew snow could pack so tight you could walk on top of it. Inside light leather boots and thick wool socks my feet were dry and warm.
But the New Yorker still needed to be rescued. I popped the hood, and there was only snow, no sign of an engine at all. I dug out the engine and it started right up. In a few more hours, I got the car off the lane and out to the road through a cornfield.
The cornfield had been combined and swept almost clean by the same wind that dumped all that snow on the lane. The lane didn’t thaw for a month and for most of February, we parked on the road and walked back and forth across the field.
And that’s why I was carrying my daughter on my shoulders and why her legs were all fuzzy and her feet spiked.
Poor Will’s Almanack pays $3 to the author of any story printed in this column. Send your blizzard stories to Poor Will, P.O. Box 431, Yellow Springs, OH 45387.
Poor Will’s Scrambler
In order to estimate your SCRAMBLER IQ, award yourself 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 Nov. 8, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.