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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Joshua Mayer / Flickr Creative Commons

The pieces of late summer fall into place, creating the season. The heat stays, but the rhythm shifts, the tones of the leaves are different, colors and sounds and scents all pointing to September.

Cottonwood leaves are becoming pale near my house. In the park, black walnut, sumac, wild grape, sycamore, elm, box elder, and redbud are turning yellow. The katydids, which started to sing last week in my neighborhood, are in full chorus after dark. The cicadas have finally all come out and fill the afternoons.

AFPMB / Flickr Creative Commons

Just before sunrise, I went jogging at the edge of town: I heard the loud rattle of tree crickets; chirping of field crickets; doves calling; I saw a cluster of robins scouting the pavement and yards, but there was no robin chorus, just the steady chirping of the sparrow flocks; a cardinal sang toward the edge of town, but he was the only one.

Liz West / Flickr Creative Commons

The speed of summer seemx to be accelerating with the heat of Dog Days. I rest in my yard, holding the day close, binding it together with what lies around me.

In my garden pond, the three-petaled flowers of the arrowhead opened overnight, a few days before they did last year. The yellow coneflowers are a week ahead of schedule.

The zinnias and the Shasta daisies I planted from seed are finally blossoming, bright oranges and reds joining the white phlox and the pinks of the petunias. The lilies are almost done blooming now.

Nicolas Winspeare / Flickr Creative Commons

The year is 200 days old this week. Between the one-hundredth day and the two-hundredth day of the year, the land completes middle spring, passes through late spring and early summer, then enters middle summer. By the two-hundredth day, the cardinals sleep late. Katydids and crickets call in the damp, warm nights. The field corn is tall, the sweet corn and tomatoes are coming in, and the wheat harvest is complete.

That_Bee / Flickr Creative Commons

Before eight o’clock this morning, crows and grackles were screeching in the mulberry tree. Sparrows were feeding heavily, black-capped chickadee weaving in and out of their flocking.


My wife and I planted dozens of daylilies during the 1980s and 1990s, and each summer morning we counted the plants that were blooming.

I still count lilies in the mornings like I have for over thirty years. This morning, there were forty-five plants in bloom. Others have long bud stalks, and I have sprayed them against the deer that love to eat them.

Last year, the lilies started at the end of May. The greatest number of them in bloom at one time was sixty on the 10th of July. By the third week of August, only one or two remained. I will keep counting to the end.

Greg Wagoner / Flickr Creative Commons

The Raspberry Moon wanes throughout the week ahead, reaching perigee (its position closest to Earth) on July 1 and  becoming the new Coneflower Moon on July 4.

As the Coneflower Moon waxes and wanes through July, it brings on the black-eyed Susans, gray-headed coneflowers, showy coneflowers, and the white, purple and red coneflowers.  When their blossoms disappear, early fall will be fast approaching.

Ryan Dingman / Flickr Creative Commons

Summer solstice is history  now, and on June 23rd, the sun begins its six-month descent to winter solstice. Middle summer typically begins this week along the 40th Parallel, and it lasts until the Dog Days weaken in the first of the late summer high-pressure systems, about August 10. In these six to seven weeks, approximately an hour is lost from the day's length and the year turns toward autumn. 

Vanessa Hernandez / Flickr Creative Commons

Having entered its second quarter on June 12, the gibbous Raspberry Moon waxes throughout the week ahead, reaching apogee (its position farthest from Earth) and becoming totally full at 6:02 a.m. on June 20. Summer solstice takes place on the same day, at 6:34 p.m.

Now is high tide in the year, and the berries grow fat and sweet beneath the glowing moon. “Taste the sugar berry sugar purple berry,” I once wrote under the influence of a little mulberry wine, “sugar wild hot sugar sunning sugar berry, sugar in the sun.”

Dicoplio Family / Flickr Creative Commons

Events in nature generally occur in a fixed sequence, based on precipitation, the declination of the sun, and the effects of warm or cold days.

And, usually, if something happens once, it will happen again.