Poor Will’s Almanack for the Second Week of January, the Second Week of Deep Winter.
All along the 40th Parallel, the sun starts to rise a little earlier this week of the year, marking a significant milestone in the progress of spring. The foxes know the days are lengthening. Watch for them playing and courting in the fields.
No matter the cold, beavers are stripping bark for food along the rivers. Skunks come out to root in the ground during the early thaws. The tufted titmouse begins its spiral mating flights. Blue jays give their bell-like calls. Sometimes pileated woodpeckers appear at your birdfeeder. Sometimes a fly will emerge indoors from a potted plant.
In the warmer winters, snowdrops can pushing up when the sun starts to rise earlier. Moss lengthens a fraction of an inch in each thaw. There can be fresh poppy leaves in the garden, new wrinkled lemon verbena foliage. Pine trees pollinate, initiating the first allergies of the new year. Sweet gum seed balls fall to the snow. A few more pussy willow catkins open. The buds of motherwort and multiflora roses become longer, some unraveling. Henbit can bloom any time an afternoon gets into the 50s.
On the mildest deep winter days of all, small pale moths venture out into the undergrowth. Crayfish wander the swamps in search of precocious prey, and thunderstorms forecast May.
Next week on Poor Will’s Almanack: back again next week with notes for the second week of January, the second week of Deep Winter. In the meantime, find a pussy willow and count the open catkins. If the January thaw arrives on schedule, it could open even more of them.