Yellow Springs resident Bill Felker has offered his take on the world of nature for years through radio spots and the written word. THOMAS GNAU/STAFF

The time of the January thaw begins this week

You see how you fit into this cosmic schema and you see how all is family from one side of the horizon to the other. It is clear to you how the cycles of morning to evening and evening to morning, from springtime to next springtime, form birth to death to birth, all follow similar and necessary trajectories.

— Peter London, Drawing Closer to Nature

The Frolicking Fox Moon, new on January 16, waxes throughout the period, encouraging foxes and other small wild animals to court and frolick, no matter what the weather. It enters its second quarter at 9:26 p.m. on January 23. Rising in the morning and setting in the evening, this Moon passes overhead in the afternoon.

The Sun: Leaving Deep Winter’s constellation of Capricorn behind, the Sun moves higher in the daytime sky, entering Aquarius on the 20th, ushering in the last subseason of winter (aptly called “Late Winter”). Little by little, the day’s length is approaching a spring-like ten hours!

The Planets: Jupiter and Mars are still the morning stars this week. Look for them in the southeast in Libra.

POOR WILL’S CLARK COUNTY ALMANACK: Time to seed bedding plants

The Stars: The new Moon will be setting in the west these dark evenings, following the Northern Cross (Cygnus) toward the horizon. As you look directly above you, try to find Perseus (looking a little like a horse). In the east, Orion stands tall.

The Shooting Stars: There are no major meteor showers this week.

Weather Trends: The January Thaw period begins this week and often lasts through the 25th. The Moon, entering its mild second quarter on the 23rd, increases the chances of a significant thaw.

The Natural Calendar: Autumn’s fruits are giving way to the weather, measuring the advance of the Northern Hemisphere back toward the sun The feathery heads of virgin’s bower, soft and thick in late November, have blown away in the wind. Hosta pods are almost empty. The final rose of Sharon seeds lie precariously in their open calices. Worn tufts of ironweed are half gone.

The heads of purple coneflowers and zinnias, tough and unyielding a month ago, crumble between your fingers. Some honeysuckle and euonymus berries still hang to their branches, but their flush and firmness are gone. In the greenhouse, the blossoms have withered on the Christmas cacti.

Fish, Game, Livestock and Birds: Dependable companions in the cold winter mornings, crows now become more boisterous; their migration typically starts this week. Sparrows and starlings court and build nests from now through the end of spring. Overwintering robins become more active in the daytime; opossums and raccoons and frolicking foxes become more active at night as Deep Winter wanes.

Ladybugs sometimes emerge in sunny window sills this time of the month, foretelling the January thaw. In addition, they bring good luck; treat them well!

Hunt and fish when the barometer is low around the January 19 and 25 cold fronts, and make plans to take advantage of low barometric pressure during the January thaw period. The waxing first-quarter Moon will be overhead in the afternoon, making fish and game more likely to be active at that time of day.

In the Field and Garden: New Moon on the 19th is a perfect lunar time for putting in all of your bedding plant seeds for spring. Try flats of greens and flowers for setting out in March; plant a second batch of everything at February’s new Moon.

Frost seeding typically begins at this time of the year. Broadcast crops such as red clover in the pastures, and scatter grass seed over bare spots on the lawn. The freezing and thawing of the ground works the seeds into the ground.

Christmas cacti can be divided and propagated throughout the months ahead. You might turn one cactus into a lucrative business if you’re willing to work at it for a few years!

Marketing Notes: Mardi Gras takes place on February 13 this year, and it is followed by Chinese New Year (the Year of the Dog) on February 16. Explore needs that celebrants might have for food and paraphernalia.

The Almanack Horoscope: The influence of the slowly waxing Frolicking Fox Moon weakens throughout the week, and seasonal stress should weaken along with it. Even though the cold and gray skies of winter may be causing irritability and depression, the possibility of a January thaw opens the door to hope and optimism. Now is the time to pay special attention to even the smallest changes in the landscape around you; they measure the approach of warmth and sun.


January 19, 1989: Looking for spring, we went southeast over the mountains. On the way through South Carolina, we saw the first flower in bloom, a roadside sow thistle. Buzzards were circling, and the first trees were definitely in flower 60 miles north of Savanna. A daffodil was budding at the Georgia line.

Some black medic and white clover, red clover, and dandelions were in full bloom, too, fifty days in time away from Springfield. Thistles had thick stalks, a foot and a half high, June size. Wild onions were as tall as in April here. Throughout the cities, the tree line was pink with flowers. Just past the Florida state line, we saw a flock of robins flying north along the coast.

More sow thistles were completely open, along with dock, hairy chickweed, and bittercress. Jacksonville was in the center of middle spring: Elderberries and azaleas blooming, some sugar maples half to fully leafed, beds of pansies blooming, calves in the fields. My daughter, Jeni, found a newborn turtle last week in the pond by her apartment.


Start counting pussy willow

New Year’s first full moon brings a deep winter chill

Supermoon rings in the New Year

With winter is here, sunset comes a little later in Clark County

Fall welcomes the Apple Cider Moon, Leonid meteors

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Poor Will’s Almanack for 2018 is still available. Order yours from Amazon, or, for an autographed copy, order from You can also purchase Bill Felker’s new book of essays, “Home is the Prime Meridian,” from those websites.