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Poor Will's Almanack: August 31 – September 6, 2021

wooly bear caterpillar
Flickr Creative Commons

Poor Will’s Almanack for the fifth and final week of  Late Summer, the final week of the Restless Billy Goat Moon, the third week the sun in Virgo

The Restless Billy Goat Moon wanes throughout the week ahead, becoming the Hickory, Black Walnut and Pecan Nutting Moon on September 6.

When this moon rises after midnight, the stars of the Summer Triangle are setting in the far west, and winter’s Orion is climbing from the eastern horizon.

In this final week of late summer, the last tier of wildflowers starts opening throughout the country.

And as the day moves to within a few degrees of equinox, sycamores, tulip trees, poplars, box elders, buckeyes, dogwoods, and redbuds may begin to show their autumn colors.

Some ash, black walnuts and cottonwoods are almost bare. Streaks of gold have appeared on the silver olive bushes.

Bees are awkward and stiff in the cool mornings. Sometimes on sunny days, woolly bear caterpillars hurry across the warm blacktop of country roads.

Kingbirds, finches, ruddy ducks, herring gulls and yellow-bellied sapsuckers move south.

Hormonal changes may occur in mammals at this time of year, creating an “autumn surge” that makes Billy Goats restless and also combats S.A.D. in humans.

In addition, numerous signals from fauna and flora (observed and named or not) alert the observer to coming changes in the season. The resulting anticipation at the approach of a landscape entirely transformed in shape and color and sound often reverses any negative psychological effects of the shortening day, frost and the moon.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the first week of Early Fall. In the meantime, be ready. You really may experience the autumn surge.

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Bill Felker has been writing nature columns and almanacs for regional and national publications since 1984. His Poor Will’s Almanack has appeared as an annual publication since 2003. His organization of weather patterns and phenology (what happens when in nature) offers a unique structure for understanding the repeating rhythms of the year.