By Bill Felker
The exact Description of Things, however small and seemingly contemptible, and Accounts of what is observable in them, will always be of Use to those who study Nature, to what End soever that be. – John Morton, 1712
The Moon and Stars
The Deer Rutting Moon wanes throughout the period, entering its last quarter at 7:38 a.m. on Nov. 27. Rising in the evening and setting in the morning, this moon moves overhead in the middle of the night. Fish and hunt either in the dark or at the second-best lunar time, (the early afternoon when the moon is below the Earth) as the barometer falls prior to a cold front due on or about Nov. 28.
If you get up to do your chores around 4-5 a.m., you will see the evening sky of mid-April. The Milky Way, along with winter’s Orion and Sirius, the Dog Star, will be setting in the far west. Above you will shine the corn-planting star, Regulus. Arcturus, the star that favors the seeding of squash and tomatoes, will be the brightest light in the east, and the pointers of the Big Dipper will be positioned almost exactly north-south.
The seventh high-pressure system generally arrives on Nov. 28, preceded by rain 70 percent of the time on the 27th (the 27th is the wettest day in the month’s weather history). Nov. 25 was the date of the latest recorded killing frost in the lower Midwest.
The 28th, 29th and 30th have the best odds of the month for snow (the new moon increasing the likelihood of troublesome weather). The 28th is the gloomiest day of the whole month, carrying just a 20 percent chance of a peek of the sun. Most of the other days are cloudy, too!
(Events in Nature that Tell the Time of Year)
Along the fencerows and in the woods, new foliage of garlic mustard, sweet rocket, sedum, leafcup, henbit, hepatica and wild ginger hold on against the frost.
Fed by autumn berries, robins linger in town. Starlings cluck and whistle at sunrise, and cardinals and pileated woodpeckers call off and on throughout the day. Finches work the sweet gum tree fruits, digging out the seeds from their hollows. Sparrow hawks appear on the fences, watching for mice in the bare fields.
The last milkweed seeds scatter along the roadsides. Thimble plants explode in the cold.
Mind and Body
The S.A.D. Index, which measures seasonal stress on a scale from 1 to 100, declines into the 60s this week, but that level of pressure from the Moon and the environment keep those who may suffer from S.A.D. on edge. From now on through December, holiday stress combines with winter darkness and the cold to challenge many people.
In the Field and Garden
Wrap young transplants to protect them from rabbits. Mulch the roses and the last of the root crops against December frost. Stake young shrubs and trees. Parsley, oregano, rosemary and thyme in pots from the garden offer winter garnish and seasoning.
The Christmas tree harvest has begun in northeast Ohio, and the last poinsettias from Southern farms have come north.
Growth of winter wheat often slows in the cold. Some fields yellow from low nitrogen levels. New garlic shoots are firm and green, but they have stopped growing and usually remain at their mid-November height. The corn and soybean harvests are usually complete by today.
Surprise in the Outhouse
By Aldon Cisco, Waverly Ohio
This story starts in Frankfort, Ohio, on a piece of property my father-in-law, Bankie E., bought for a getaway. This property had an old building on it that resembled an old corncrib. We remodeled it and equipped it with linoleum, insulation, electricity, radio, card table, air conditioning, stove, refrigerator and bunk beds.
And we needed an outhouse, so we built one, a one-holer. My father-in-law dug a hole and took a 55-gallon drum and knocked three or four holes in the bottom and put it in the hole, and then we set the outhouse on the barrel, kind of open on the back side.
After a few years, the trips to the outhouse started to accumulate. My father-in-law’s best friend, Velver C, who was close to 70 years old at the time, made a trip to the outhouse as nature called. Later my brother-in-law, Ronnie M., made a trip also and came back in laughing, and we all went to see what was going on.
It seems that an opossum had gotten into the barrel and could not get out. He had mud on his head and was standing on the top of the pile with front feet outreached within six inches of the top of the seat.
This started the laughter, and to this day it is still funny to think of what could have happened. There were no lives lost or even a bite.
My father-in-law put a 2 x 4 in the barrel from the back and the opossum escaped. I would think he was one happy opossum to get out, and he must have learned his lesson because he never returned. We also learned our lesson: take a flashlight and always check the hole.
My father-in-law and his best friend are now gone, but not in our hearts and minds. The memories live on.
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Bill Felker’s Poor Will’s Almanack for 2022 is now available. In addition to weather, farming and gardening information, reader stories and astronomical data, this edition contains 50 essays from Bill’s weekly radio segment on NPR radio, WYSO. For your autographed copy (by media mail), send $22 to Poor Will, P.O. Box 431, Yellow Springs, OH 45387. Or order from Amazon or from www.poorwillsalmanack.com.
Copyright 2021 – W. L. Felker