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Poor Will’s Almanack: May 31 - June 6, 2011

Flickr Creative Commons user jamieanne
Fresh Mulberries

Poor Will’s Almanack for the second week of early summer.

By this moment in the year, everything is happening all around us. May apples have fruit the size of a cherry. Buckeyes have half-inch burrs. Honeysuckle flowers are falling, bridal wreath and snowball viburnum rusting. Timothy is ripe for chewing.

Mulberry season begins for both the red and white varieties, and it typically lasts until the end of Early Summer – good for birds and good for pies! Tea roses and achillea open in the garden, and the first foxtail grass ripples by the side of the road. Asiatic lilies, poison ivy, meadow rue, Indian hemp, and the catalpa trees are budding. July's wild petunia foliage is a foot tall. August's boneset has grown knee high.

Canadian geese are molting, now that all of their goslings have hatched. Mother grackles and robins are cleaning their nests, often depositing the white droppings of their babies in your birdbath or pond.

And it is high time for insects: time check the cucumbers for cucumber beetles, the phlox for powdery mildew. Look for potato leafhoppers in the alfalfa, and mites in the roses. Chinch bugs begin to hatch in the lawn. Whiteflies attack azaleas. Weevils assault the yellow poplars. Leafminers work arborvitae, birch, locusts, boxwood, elms, holly, and juniper.
Inspired by all the insects, weaving spiders weave the first major network of cobwebs across the woodland paths. Wolf spiders and toads hunt the fields and forest floor. Birds feast and feed their young.

Next week on Poor Will's Almanack: notes for the third week of Early Summer. In the meantime, pay no attention to the bugs. Look for mulberries, make a pie.

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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.