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Mid January usually brings more sub-zero cold

By Bill Felker
We use winters as our clock….We set our inner clocks by the storms we’ve known. — Adam Gopnik

Astronomical Data and Lore
The Snow Flea Moon, new on January 13, waxes throughout the week, entering its second quarter on January 20, becoming full at 2:16 p.m. on January 28. Rising in the morning and setting in the evening, this moon passes overhead in the middle of the day, encouraging fish, game and dieters to feed during and after lunch, especially as the cold fronts of January 15 and 20 approach. 
In the evening sky, Orion now dominates the southeast. Sirius, the Dog Star, is at his heels. The Pleiades are overhead. Perseus follows Andromeda and the Great Square into the west. The Big Dipper begins to circle back out of the northeast. When its pointers to the North Star are positioned directly north and south at 9 p.m., it will be Deep Spring. 
The Sun enters the sign of Aquarius on January 19, foreshadowing the last subseason of winter (aptly called “Late Winter”) .

Weather Trends
The center of January typically brings more below-zero temperatures than any other time of year. But after new moon on the 13th (and the likelihood that the January 15 cold front will be a strong one), conditions should moderate slightly as the mid-January weather system moves east. Consequently, it is possible that a light January thaw will occur as the barometer falls in front of the January 20 weather system.

(Events in Nature that Tell the Time of Year)
Zeitgebers for this period include the emergence of flies in your house (perhaps brought in on a plant last fall), the appearance of small, tan moths on mild afternoons, crayfish hunting the swamps when the sun warms the wetlands, juncos beginning to flock in advance of their migration north, and crows starting to move up from the South.
The season of the year’s birdsong, a season that ordinarily lasts through July and sometimes into August, increases in volume as calls of the blue jay slowly join the calls of the tufted titmouse.
The last migrant stragglers, including the sandhill cranes, cross the 40th Parallel on their way to warmer areas. In the South, the final leaves come down, and new growth immediately begins again.
Nighttime excursions of skunks and foxes, the occasional appearance of flies, an increase in opossum activity, the occasional passage of bluebirds, the mating of owls, and the disappearance of autumn seeds all offer counterpoint to the subdued winter silence and chill.

The Countdown to Spring
One week until the traditional January Thaw time and blue jays give their bell-like mating call.
Two weeks until cardinals start to sing before dawn. Flies and cabbage butterflies sometimes hatch on indoor plants.
Three weeks until doves join the cardinals, and maple sap is running
Three and a half weeks until the first red-winged blackbirds arrive in the wetlands
Four weeks to the very first snowdrop bloom and the official start of early spring
Five weeks to major pussy willow emerging season
Six weeks to crocus season
Seven weeks to the beginning of the morning robin chorus before sunrise
Eight weeks to daffodil time
Nine weeks to the major wildflower bloom
Ten weeks until the yellow blossoms of forsythia bushes appear

Mind and Body: Good News!
The S.A.D. Index that measures seasonal stress on a scale from 1 to 100 falls from a troubling high of 93 at new moon (January 13) to a low of 68 on January 20. The moon’s tidal influence weakens throughout the period as it approaches its second quarter, and the approach of the January thaw historically produces slightly more favorable temperatures. These trends augur well for a reduction of S.A.D. in many people. For full S.A.D. statistics, consult Poor Will’s Almanack for 2021.

In the Field and Garden
January 11 is Plough Monday, the traditional beginning of the farm season. Celebrate with a big meal and time with seed catalogs!
Seed coleus, impatiens, geraniums and other summer flowers around new moon (January 13). Keep their soil warm and grow lights close.
Avoid giving greens to your outside rabbits when the temperature remains well below freezing.
When snow recedes or during major periods of thaw, frost seeding begins: broadcast clover in the fields and grass seed over bare spots on the lawn. 
Chinese New Year on February 12 – 17 (the beginning of the Year of the Ox) could increase demand for lambs and kids.
Consider marketing to the Mardi Gras (February 16) market: hot-cross buns, beads, lamb and chevon. 

Almanack Classics 
Rita Hoffman of Burgoon, Ohio, sent Poor Will this story in 1991: 
Way back in the ‘30s, our one room school always had nice P.T.A. meetings. Lots of entertainment.
We missed these fun meetings so much in the summer time that we continued to get together for parties in our neighbors’ homes. One time, it got a little exciting.
In the ‘30s, you know, we had no electricity or bathrooms. So after dark you would either light your coal oil lantern or take a flashlight and go down that little narrow path when necessary, praying no bat, bird or animal would appear in front of you.
One nice summer evening party, a lady came into the house, so out of breath she could hardly tell anyone what happened. Finally the poor soul got her words out.
She said: “The flashlight slipped down the hole of the toilet!”
Everyone had to go see how that big five cell flashlight lit things up. It did a good job!
This is a good reason to be thankful and appreciate electricity and also bathrooms!
Two Stories from Evelyn Hatton
Back in the 20th century, Evelyn Hatton of Vevay, Indiana, sent Poor Will a number of stories from her experiences. Here are two of my favorites.
Although I’ve been driving for many years, I’ve never had to fill the car with gas because my protective husband always does it for me. One day, however, the gas gauge showed near empty, and I decided to try my hand at the self-service gas pump. 
Carefully positioning the car just ahead of the pump as I had seen my husband do, I carefully read the instructions and proceeded to fill the tank. When the attendant approached to collect my money, I happily announced: “I’ve been driving for 12 years, and this is the first time I’ve put gas in my car.”
“Lady,” he said, “if you tell me how you do it, we can both get rich!”
Our young daughter had adopted a stray cat. To my distress he began to use the back of our new sofa as a scratching post. “Don’t worry,” my husband reassured me, “I’ll have him trained in no time.”
I watched for several days as my husband patiently trained our new pet. Whenever the cat scratched, my husband deposited him outdoors to teach him a lesson.
The cat learned quickly. For the next 16 years whenever he wanted to go outside, he scratched the back of the sofa.
Answers To Last Week’s Sckrambler
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This Week’s Rhyming Sckrambler

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Copyright 2021 - W. L. Felker