The Big Dipper at midnight tells the progress of the year. When its pointers, Merak and Dubhe, point north-south, and the Dipper lies tight against the northern horizon, the northern hemisphere has left summer behind. Leaves are turning, birds migrating, wildflower time closing, the farm and garden take their harvest. The seasons of early, middle and late autumn pass through your habitat.
When, Merak and Dubhe, (over in the eastern half of the sky) point east-west at midnight, the corn and soybeans have been cut, tomatoes all picked, pumkins fed to sheep and goats, all the leaves are down, and the nights are the longest of the year. Early winter, deep winter and late winter turn with the Dipper as it circles Polaris.
When Merak and Dubhe, have taken the Dipper far into the center of the sky above you, pointing north-south in the middle of the night, then pasture season moves north from the Gulf of Mexico and snowdrops bloom. Robins and cardinals sing before sunrise. Early, middle and late spring arrive.
When the pointers point west-east at midnight (with the Dipper itself in the west) then fledglings pester their parents for food, fireflies light up the humid evenings, and the chants of cicadas, crickets and katydids complement the birdsong. The warmth of early, middle and late summer brings the highest tide of flowers and the sweetest fruits of Earth.
This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I'll be back again next week with notes for the fourth week of early fall. In the meantime, find the Big Dipper and watch it turn the season and bring you sweet fruit.