Poor Will’s Almanack for the First Week of Deep Winter.
I had been reading predictions about the end of the world (on the occasion of the alignment of this December’s solstice with the Galactic equator, a once-in-twenty-six-thousand-years event, foretold by the ancient Mayans). All that foolishness, along with the longest nights of the year, had somehow set me off balance, and I decided to go and see for myself what was happening in the real world of the woods.
I walked along the river, the water higher than it had been in months.
Garlic mustard was growing up beside Osage fruits shredded by squirrels. Henbit and sweet rockets and wild onions, ragwort and hemlock and leafcup foliage pushed out between the mossy trunks of fallen trees. In the muck of the swamp, skunk cabbage was set for March. And all around me soft, green mounds of mouse-eared chickweed were rising through layers of the last honeysuckle leaves, through the crumbling strata of summer and fall, along the bottom land and up the wooded talus slopes.
Encouraged by this year’s gentle autumn, the mouse-eared chickweed rose tightly and firmly around the other precocious weeds, binding and linking them, leading them in forecast for a new year. Glowing in the late sun, their small, bold leaves seemed to me a bright banner of hope spreading through the forest, and a fresh antidote to apocalypse.
Indeed, I saw, there truly was a great convergence in the making, albeit not the one the Mayans had in mind. For the mouse-eared chickweed, the garlic mustard, the ragwort, the sweet rocket, the henbit, the moss, the skunk cabbage, the hemlock and the wild onions were aligned as plainly as any galactic objects could ever be, earthstars shining day and night across the winter to come.
This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the Second Week of Deep Winter. In the meantime, relax. The world did not end, and everything is in perfect alignment.