Poor Will’s Almanack for the fourth week of late autumn, the first week of the natural year.
On November 22, the sun entered Sagittarius, the position in which it appears to lie at its lowest point below the celestial equator, balancing between the old year and the new year.
In much of the nation, sunset now reaches within just a few minutes of its earliest time, and it remains within that time window throughout the sun's residence in Sagittarius, even shifting toward June on Early Winter's cusp and starting to set a little later at midmonth.
Along the 40th Parallel, final losses occur on beeches and pears as the new year opens, and all across the Deep South, a resurgence of second-spring growth promises to come north in six to eight weeks. Across the nation's midsection, sandhill cranes pass overhead on the way to Florida, the Southwestern United States, and Mexico announcing the turn of the world toward Capricorn and then toward spring.
At six o'clock in the morning, it's May in evening Star Time. All December's constellations are setting in the west. The great planting star, Arcturus, is almost overhead, followed by June's Corona Borealis and then by Hercules. Deep in the southeast, red Antares of Scorpius forecasts the Dog Days of summer.
Next week on Poor Will's Almanack: notes for the first week of Early Winter and the second week of the natural year of 2010-11. In the meantime, listen for sandhill cranes moving south, the first bird cries of the new natural year.
Poor Will's Almanack for 2011 ---- a full year of Bill Felker's ruminations, along with astronomical information, notes on gardening, farming and the progress of the year --- is now available. More information can be found at poorwillsalmanack.com