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Poor Will's Almanack: September 27 - October 3, 2011

Flickr Creative Commons user wolfpix
Yellow Jacket on Wood

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

Wind comes in ahead of the first October cold, pulling off foliage from box elders and sycamores, red Virginia creepers, and elms, blowing hickory leaves into the rivers. Early in the morning, Orion lies in the middle of the southern sky. The locust trees and cottonwoods, the grape vines and the milkweed leaves are gold. Black walnut trees are bare.

Japanese beetles are almost gone now. Chiggers have disappeared from the garden. Taking their place, cucumber beetles hide in the roses. The mornings bring occasional robins passing through, and once in a while a cardinal will call.

Cricket song replaces cicada song when the days are cool. Yellow jackets become more numerous. Cabbage butterflies, swallowtails and monarchs seem tamer and more reckless in the search for nectar or favorable sites on which to lay their eggs. Aphids are disappearing in the chillier nights. Darners are still hunting near the water, but damsel flies are gone. Elaborate spider webs hang between the withering nettles, catching the light of the sun and the late insect hatches.

Next week on Poor Will’s Almanack: notes for the Fourth Week of Early Fall. In the meantime, watch for the arrival of the slate-gray junco, one of the first birds to arrive for Middle Fall.

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.