WYSO

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.

Ways to Connect

Mark Bonica / Flickr Creative Commons

My furnace is in the attic of my house, a place that is always warm in the coldest weather. During the later winter and early spring, I plant seeds under grow lights there: geraniums, petunias, castor beans, calla lilies, bananas, dahlias. The warmth of the lights and the air helps them to sprout, and the spring green of their leaves always makes me feel good.

JanetF / Flickr Creative Commons

Middle Spring cedes to Late Spring, and under the closing canopy and the Eta Aquarid shooting stars: the wild phlox are purple and the swamp ragwort is gold. May apples and spring cress flower.  Wild ginger, meadow rue, bellwort, bluets, Jack-in-the pulpit, nodding trillium, larkspur and thyme-leafed speedwell are still blossoming. The sticky catchweed replaces chickweed. Thyme and horseradish open in the herb garden. Lily-of-the-valley and star of Bethlehem push out from their buds. 

Hamner_Fotos / Flickr Creative Commons

When the Sun comes into Taurus, then it is Late Spring almost everwhere along the 40th Parallel. Even though the chill of the full Swarming Termite Moon increases the likelihood of frost,  chances for a high above 70s degrees are now 50/50 or better for the first time this year all across the nation’s midsection.

clock face
Christian Reichert / Flickr Creative Commons

Keeping a notebook of what happens every day in the small world around me, I often think about the cyclical quality of events in nature. The repeating quality of the sky and the landscape, is something similar to what sociologist Charles Taylor describes, in his book, A Secular Age, as "Higher Time" (as opposed to linear, “Secular Time”).

American toad
Courtney Celley/USFWS / Flickr Creative Commons

The Golding Goldfinch Moon wanes throughout the week, becoming the new Swarming Termite Moon on April 15. And as daffodils and tulips come to bloom and the pale winter feathers of goldfinches turn gold, it is not uncommon to see swarms of ant-like creatures (termites) flying in search of new breeding and feeding grounds. When termites swarm, carpenter bees emerge to invade home siding and eaves, usually returning to the same places they were the year before, drilling and making nests, often leaving telltale piles of sawdust as signs of their activity.

morel mushroom
Ziggy Liloia / Flickr Creative Commons

The Golding Goldfinch Moon weakens and wanes throughout the week, reaching benign apogee (its position farthest from Earth) and entering its final phase on April 8. Rising at night and setting in the morning, this Moon is still round enough to light the predawn sky.

closeup of crabapple buds
Andrew Fogg / Flickr Creative Commons

This week marks the arrival of Middle Spring, a four-week period during which almost all the field crops are planted and gardeners set out onion sets, broccoli, cabbage, collards and kale.

The Golding Goldfinch Moon is full on March 31. This is the second Blue Moon (that is, the second full Moon in a single month) of 2018. Rising in the evening and setting in the morning, this Moon brightens the night sky wildflower walks in the dark.

8mitsu / Flickr Creative Commons

So much is happening, it’s hard to even imagine it all. Equinox occurs  at 11:15 a.m. on March 20 and the Sun enters the Middle Spring sign of  Aries on March 21. The Golding Goldfinch Moon, slowly turning the feathers of goldfinches gold, enters its second phase on March 24 and reaches perigee, its powerful position closest to earth on the March 26.

When you get up before dawn to exercise, do chores or listen to birds, find giant Jupiter along the southern horizon in Libra. Walk with Venus in the far west after sundown.

two goldfinches in the spring
nutmeg66 / Flickr Creative Commons

The Ducks-Scouting-for-Nests Moon wanes through it fourth phase this week, becoming the new Golding Goldfinch Moon on March 17. Rising in the morning and setting in the evening, this Moon passes overhead near midday, then sets near Venus. At midnight, the Big Dipper is overhead, Orion sets in the west, and Libra (along with Jupiter) rises in the east.

ladydragonflyherworld / Flickr Creative Commons

The Ducks-Scouting-for-Nests Moon wanes throughout the week, entering its final quarter on March 9 and reaching gentle apogee, its position farthest from Earth, two days later. Rising near midnight and setting in the morning, this Moon moves overhead throughout the darkest hours before daylight.

And if you spring your clocks ahead an hour for Daylight Saving Time just before dawn on the 11th, you might see the Moon rising in the east, not far from Jupiter and Mars in the southeast.

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