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Poor Will's Alamanck: September 18 - 24, 2012

Bursting milkweed pod
Flickr Creative Commons user lahvak

Poor Will's Almanack for the second week of Early Fall.

When the day’s length falls below 12 hours this week, then the sugar beet, pear, cabbage and cauliflower harvests commence in the Great Lakes region. In Wisconsin, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington State, the cranberry harvest begins, berries darkening in the cooler weather.

As autumn leafturn accelerates all along the 40th parallel, the deciduous trees lose all their leaves in northern Canada. In New England and in the Rocky Mountains, foliage colors are approaching their best.

Milkweed pods open in the roadsides when late hosta bloom comes to a close in town and the great pink mallows die back in the wetlands.

When most of the black walnuts have fallen and wood nettle seeds are black and brittle, then gardeners plant spring bulbs and transplant perennials in the garden.

When the ash trees turn red and gold, then the season of killing frosts has arrived.

When goldenrod flowers are tufted and gray, then daddy longlegs disappear from the undergrowth and bird migrations reach their peak.

And in spite of all those motions toward winter, Middle Spring’s sedum is growing stronger in the woods. Henbit, mint and catchweed revive. Waterleaf has fresh shoots. Snow-on-the-mountain has recovered from its mid-summer slump and can be as thick and as beautiful as in April.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the third week of early fall. In the meantime, watch the red and gold spread across the tree line.

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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.