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Poor Will's Almanack: February 18 - 24, 2020

Rene Rasmussen
Flickr Creative Commons

Instinctively summer is accepted as the normal condition of the earth,  writes naturalist, Edwin Way Teale.

Winter as the abnormal. Summer is ‘the way it should be.’ It is as though our minds subconsciously returned to some tropical beginning, some summer-filled Garden of Eden

I thought of these lines I drove back to Ohio from a brief trip to the Florida Keys this past month.

It wasn’t that the change was disheartening or surprising. I had made that trip dozens of times through the years, and I knew what to expect in almost any month.  But once again I was reminded of Teal’s assertion, the idea that winter is abnormal, that there is something wrong with the cold, something the way it shouldn’t be.

The Spartan alternative view, of course, is to man or woman up to the challenges, to exult in the beauty of the snow and the comfort of the fireside.

After all, the increasingly hot summers are not necessarily so desirable. Most first world people hide from August’s sun in shade or in air conditioned cars, offices and homes. Apparently temperatures above 90 and high humidity are not the way the way the world should be, either.

The subconscious mind indeed not only wants an idealized summer, a super- Eden, but it also wants to eat the serpent’s apple, know all about good and evil and not get driven out into the cold. It wants to swim in the warm ocean, lie out on the beach without getting sunburned, love and be loved, be free from pain and fear….

Of course. That makes perfect sense. That is the way the world should be.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the second week of Early Spring. In the meantime, keep thinking about the way the world should be.

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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.