Bill Felker

Host - Poor Will's Almanack

Bill Felker has been writing nature columns and almanacs for regional and national publications since 1984. His Poor Will’s Almanack has appeared as an annual publication since 2003. His organization of weather patterns and phenology (what happens when in nature) offers a unique structure for understanding the repeating rhythms of the year.

Exploring everything from animal husbandry to phenology, Felker has become well known to farmers as well as urban readers throughout the country.  He is an occasional speaker on the environment at nature centers, churches and universities, and he has presented papers related to almanacking at academic conferences, as well. Felker has received three awards for his almanac writing from the Ohio Newspaper Association. "Better writing cannot be found in America's biggest papers," stated the judge on the occasion of Felker’s award in 2000.

Currently, Bill Felker lives with his wife in Yellow Springs, Ohio. He has two daughters, Jeni, who is a psychologist in Portland, Oregon, and Neysa, a photographer in Spoleto, Italy.

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Randi Hausken / Flickr Creative Commons

The shrinking Sandhill Crane Moon wanes throughout the week darkening the longest nights of the year, and continuing to call the cranes to the south, until on the 21st it becomes the Marauding Mouse Moon, the first day of the worst time of rodents in kitchens and basements and attics as those creatures flee from the cold.

That moon becomes new at 8:36 in the evening of the 21st, just 33 minutes later than the official moment of winter solstice, and at the very same time that the sun moves into its deep winter sign of Capricorn.

kalymnos77 / Flickr Creative Commons

This second week of early winter brings to a close the Season of Bittersweet Shedding and the Corn and Soybean Harvest Season. Leafdrop Season is complete for almost every tree. In the garden, Strawberry Mulching Season complements Herb Transplanting Season, the time to transfer oregano, rosemary, parsley, thyme and sage to indoor pots.

Mike Hiatt / Flickr Creative Commons

The old year of sprouting, growing and producing fruit has fallen away with the leaves and the end of harvest, and the first week of early winter marks the beginning of a new cycle in Earth’s spin around the sun.

Shawn Harquail / Flickr Creative Commons

Throughout North America, sunset reaches its earliest time of the year as the sun moves deeper into Sagittarius, and the waxing Sandhill Crane Migration Moon hurries migration time for the last of the birds.

The mornings are often silent now – no birdsong – no cricket song, and into that silence, into the basket of the whole year, gently, instinctively, I place all of the other signs and moons and suns, filling it way over the top with what and whom those phases have nurtured from the beginning.

Mark Lorch / Flickr Creative Commons

The old year in nature is coming to a close, and on Saturday, the 22nd, the sun’s entry into Sagittarius, its apparent position closest to the horizon, announces the beginning of the end. And also on the 22nd, the moon becomes the Sandhill Crane Migration Moon the last of the migration moons and the gateway to the new great cycle.

And even though this wintry moon and the sun’s entry into Sagittarius forecast sleet and gloom, I sometimes retreat from the future into the warmest of my late Novembers.

Martin LaBar / Flickr Creative Commons

While the moon darkens, turning from gibbous to crescent throughout the week, entering its fourth quarter on November 14th, it shadows Jupiter the morning star and takes down the last of the ginkgoes and the white mulberries and the silver maples. It colors the beeches and oaks and zelcovas and decorative pears with rust and gold, hurries the frogs and toads to reach their winter havens, silences the latest crickets of the year.

mshipp / Flickr Creative Commons

The stars are a steady, accessible natural calendar and reveal the state of the landscape as well as the weather or trees or plants. With an inexpensive star chart or a sky map from the Internet, you can tell the time of year from your own yard, watch the sky bring on late autumn, early winter, deep winter, later winter, early spring.

k4dordy / Flickr Creative Commons

This is the second week of the Toad and Frog Migration Moon, the second week of the Sun in Scorpio.  And this is also the week that Daylight Savings Time ends throughout the country, clocks falling back an hour at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, and making the mornings a little brighter for the next month or so, more like the mornings of early fall.

The evenings, though, become winter dark as sundown is suddenly moved up to within just a few minutes of its solstice setting.

Mike Deal / Flickr Creative Commons

Tonight, when Earth crosses the vast remains of Halley’s Comet, it reveals that debris as the Orionid meteors, shooting past the post-midnight sword and shield of the constellation Orion in the southeast.

Then on Thursday, October 23rd, the dark Toad and Frog Migration Moon replaces the Hickory Nutting Moon, calling the last of the toads and frogs to find their winter habitats, often the same location in which they emerged as tadpoles.

Peppysis / Flickr Creative Commons

The sun seems to move lower and lower these days, rising further in the southeast, setting further in the southwest, about to abandon its residence in the boxy constellation of Libra.

Now the Summer Triangle with its brightest stars, Deneb, Lyra and Altair, has moved deep into the west after dark, following the lead of Mars in Scorpius. From the eastern horizon, the Pleiades, the seven sisters of the winter, are rising, leading on the red eye of Taurus and Orion’s vast shield.

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