Nature
9:56 am
Tue January 18, 2011

Poor Will's Almanack: January 18 – 24, 2011

Poor Will’s Almanack for the fourth and final week of deep winter, the eighth week of the natural year.

The January thaw often occurs this week, and I get hungrier than usual for spring. I couldn't control myself on this date a few years ago, got in the car and drove south from Ohio to visit my daughter Jeni in Jacksonville, Florida.

At first, I could see no change in the landscape. The roadside grass seemed a little greener just south of Cincinnati, but didn't really deepen until near the Tennessee border. At a rest stop near Knoxville, moss was growing long on an old log, and rolling fields of bright winter wheat promised warmth to come.
I didn't find the first flower until South Carolina, a lonely sow thistle. But the first trees were definitely flowering 60 miles north of Savanna, and a daffodil was budding at the Georgia-South Carolina line.

Black medic and white clover, red clover, and dandelions now came into full bloom as I drove. Thistles had thick stalks, a foot and a half high, June size. Wild onions were as tall as April onions at home.

Just past the Florida line, I saw a flock of robins flying north along the coast. More sow thistles were completely open, along with dock, hairy chickweed, and bittercress. And Jacksonville, Florida was in the middle of middle spring: Elderberries and azaleas blooming. Some sugar maples half to fully leafed, beds of pansies everywhere, new calves in the fields. When I arrived at her apartment, Jeni had just found a newborn turtle in her pond.

Next week on Poor Will's Almanack: notes for the First Week of Late Winter. In the meantime, believe in the thaws. Time is only space, and the distance to April not so far as winter makes it seem.

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