|Poor Will’s Almanack
By Bill Felker
Nov. 27-Dec. 3, 2006
Thanksgiving, with its reliable bounty, its reunions, its hours of perfumed air, is over, and the raking, the planting of bulbs, and the digging of root crops are finished for the year. The freezer and pantry shelves are as full as they are going to be: What we have done, we have done; and what we have left undone, we have left undone.
The astronomical calendar for the fifth week of late fall:
The Orchid Moon waxes throughout the week, becoming completely full at 7:25 p.m. on Dec. 4.
On Dec. 2, the sun reaches its earliest setting of the year and continues to set at the same time for 12 days. The sun’s position remains within a degree of solstice between Dec. 5 and Jan. 8, producing a period of solar stability similar to the one between June 4 and July 8.
Dec. 3: All across the central states, this is the last front of late autumn, and mild weather typically fills the South and the Border States prior to its arrival. Even in the North, temperatures are relatively gentle. New moon on Dec. 1, however, should contribute to more snow at higher elevations this first week of the year’s last month.
When spruces grow new needles, foretelling spring of 2007, then look for your garlic shoots planted in October to be at least six inches high.
When camel crickets emerge in your kitchen or bathroom, expect a cold wave and good luck. If a camel cricket comes to you on New Year’s Eve, the good luck is even more likely to occur.
When all the willow and pear leaves fall in the cold, then get set to seed your bedding plants for next year.
When water for livestock drops near 50 degrees, it’s time to plug in the electric heaters out in the barn. Animals will drink more when water is not so cold. That’s especially important for pregnant does, ewes and cows.
When the corn and soybean harvests are complete, plant the last of the bulbs for spring and water heavily before the ground freezes.
When the outdoor temperature is expected to be between 30 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit, plan to do your butchering; the animal carcass will remained chilled but will not freeze if left out-of-doors.
When the weather turns milder, consider clipping your workhorse so that the sweaty coat doesn’t take so long to dry.
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 into the 80s by early next week, the first time it has been so high since the middle of last February. Expect the first serious bout of seasonal affective disorders.
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 (and your children) are typically most active.
Date, Best, Second-Best
Dec. 1-3, Evenings, Mornings
Dec. 4-11, Midnight-Dawn, Afternoons
Dec. 12-19, Mornings, Evenings
Dec. 20-26, Afternoons, Midnight-Dawn
Dec. 27-31, Evenings, Mornings
Best fishing and hunting
Hunt and fish when the moon is below the region this week; that will be in the late morning through early afternoon. As the barometer drops during the days prior to the Dec. 3rd cold front, fish and game should be most active.
Thou still unravish’d bride of quietness,
Thou foster-child of Silence and slow Time….
-John Keats, “Ode on a Grecian Urn”
My notion of time is tightly bound to the motion of the Earth around the sun and to the temporal markers that correspond to that motion.
Seasons follow a relatively stable pattern, and anyone who lives for a while in the same place can easily tell the approximate progress of the year without a calendar.
I can change my perception of time by going to a location in which the season is ahead or behind the season I have left. From even short trips, I conclude that time is not only dependent on the rising and setting of the sun but also on the amount of shade, the longitude north or south, and elevation.
I can play with time in the garden by cutting back a flower to make it bloom in August rather than in July. By moving a potted tomato plant, I can make it bloom earlier or later. Like the tomato, I will ripen at a different rate in different locations; my mind is tied to what the senses feed it.
Driving in July to Wisconsin, I return to the exhilaration I feel in an Ohio Valley in June. If I continue north to Ontario, I can still find May. April and spring beauties wait for me above Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies. Adjusting time by changing space, I lengthen pleasure, heighten the experience, extend and extend, never satisfied.
Whether gardening or traveling, I can put off transition until I have found the last edge of summer, until I can go no further, until I have passed the high timberline of time and must finally retreat to memory and to static art in the “Slow Time” of winter and silent renewal.
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.
Here is this week’s rhyming Scrambler:
This farm news was published in the Nov. 22, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.