As Late Summer begins, all the katydids sing after sundown. They call out the close of the Dog Days, and even though heat often lingers, the rhythm of the season has shifted, its tones have been altered, colors and sounds and scents all pointing to fall.
Migration clucking among the robins increases. Some days, there is a long and steady cardinal song before sunrise, then silence. Hummingbirds, wood ducks, Baltimore orioles and purple martins start to disappear south; their departure marks a quickening in the approach of Early Fall.
The first yellow jackets in the windfall apples and peaches and plums, the appearance of red stonecrop, white snakeroot, and boneset flowers, the fading of the cottonwoods combine now with all the other endings and beginnings to accelerate the year, building momentum with an accumulation of more and more events.
Black walnut foliage is thinning, foretaste of the great leafdrop to come. Locust leaves turn brown, damaged by leaf miners. Violet Joe Pye weed grays like thistledown. The prickly teasel dies back. Fruit of the bittersweet ripens. Spicebush berries redden. Tall goldenrod heads up.
In the thunderstorms of Late Summer, green acorns, walnuts and hickory nuts fall to the sweet rocket growing back among the budding asters. Spiders in the woods weave their final webs, and fireflies complete their cycle.
This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the second week of Late Summer. In the meantime, go out at night and listen for katydids calling out the time of August: katydid did did….