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Poor Will's Almanack: September 13 - 19

Flickr Creative Commons user brew127

Poor Will’s Almanack for the First Week of Early Fall.

When autumn leafturn starts near equinox in the Midwest, the deciduous trees are bare in northern Canada.  In Oregon and Maine, foliage colors are approaching their greatest brilliance. In the Rocky Mountains, bull elks are mustering their harems, and snow is falling.  Along the 40th Parallel, the smoky tint of last week’s canopy quickly becomes clear and bright.

Now the soybean fields are yellow all across the country.  Touch-me-nots are popping in the wetlands.  Wood nettle seeds are black.  Wingstem, clearweed and ironweed complete their cycles.  Buckeyes are starting to burst from their hulls.  More black walnuts, more hickory nuts, more acorns come down.  The huge pink mallows of the swamps have died, heads dark, leaves disintegrating.  Scattered in the pastures, the milkweed pods are full, straining, ready to open.  Mullein stalks stand bare like withered cacti.  In the perennial garden, varieties of late hostas, like the August Moon and the Royal Standard, discard their petals.

Robin migration calls complement the chatter of the crows and jays and squirrels in the early mornings.  Grackles are flocking in the fields.  Cicada holidays become more frequent in the cooler afternoons.  Sometimes katydids keep silence after dark, leaving the whole night to the great chorus of crickets.

Next week on Poor Will’s Almanack: notes for the Second Week of Early Fall. In the meantime, watch the roadsides for milkweed pods bursting in the cool of the new season.

Poor Will’s Almanack for 2012, fourteen months and 300 pages of seasonal essays, notes on farming and gardening, weather, phenology, astronomical information, puzzles with cash prizes, and reader stories is now available. More information can be found at poorwillsalmanack.com.

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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.