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Poor Will's Almanack: January 5 - 11, 2021

On hillsides, the springs and brooks are clear and the watercress bright even in the darkest of January days. Under snow, new chickweed covers parts of the bottomland. Basal foliage of sweet rocket and leafcup is lush and tall.

In fields and hedgerows, leaves of thistles, mint, leafcup and mullein remain undamaged by the cold. The curled cones of skunk cabbage are open just a little in the wetlands.

When the snow melts, the landscape appears part early spring, part late autumn, the grass greening in patches, October leaves darkening in decay.

Pale green Osage fruits have become speckled with age, many of them shredded by squirrels and raccoons. Coralberries are becoming paler. Bittersweet hulls and red winterberries lie all about the ground. Purple deadnettle has expanded into mounds. A few pussy willows have cracked. A few snowdrops and crocuses have started to push up through the mulch, even under snow.

Sometimes male cardinals and tufted titmice make tentative mating calls. Downy woodpeckers and pileated woodpeckers feed in the trees. Kingfishers scream along the river. Overwintering robins cluck in the crab apples. Sometimes the last sandhill cranes fly overhead, the last of the migrants to the South.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the third week of Deep Winter. In the meantime, listen to the silence of the winter mornings. In just a couple of weeks, the predawn birdsong will begin.

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