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Poor Will's Almanack: August 27 – September 2, 2013


As September begins and bird migrations intensify, Taurus and the Pleiades rise late in the dark sky, and those constellations remain visible at night until middle spring when their disappearance coincides with the birds' return. The day's length drops below thirteen hours all along the 40th Parallel now, down about 120 minutes from its longest span at the middle of June.

Indigo buntings depart from the Midwest and East this week. Bobolinks and kingbirds are on their way, too. Woolly bear caterpillars could be running in front of your car. Squirrels are cracking buckeyes and shredding Osage fruits.

In this second - last week of late summer, the final tier of wildflowers starts to open. White and violet asters, orange beggarticks, burr marigolds, tall goldenrod, zigzag goldenrod and Japanese knotweed come into bloom, blending with the brightest of the purple ironweed, yellow sundrops, blue chicory, golden touch-me-nots, showy coneflowers and great blue lobelia.

Grounding myself in just those things lies around me, I try to learn to accept home, to accept what is closest to me in the solitude of landscape.

I try to find enough in the most simple observations, to embrace the ordinary and expect nothing more, holding this particular passage of time, salvation in the commonplace: the flight of a dragon fly, the blossoming of autumn crocus, asking nothing more than these plain acts, allowing, opening, watching finite visions that contain no transcendence or special compensation, considering the precision of each fragment that names the exact place of Earth’s orbit and my exact place within it now.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the fifth week of late summer. In the meantime, watch for birds gathering on the high wires, flocking for migration.

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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.