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Poor Will's Almanack: August 19 - 25, 2014

Nick Ares
Flickr Creative Commons

Last week’s Perseid meteor shower paralleled the onset of late summer. At this point in August, the pause between robinsong and insect calls is ending. July’s Dog Days never really materialized this year, and now the nights are dense with the ebb-tide chanting of crickets and katydids.

Riding that tide, the first blossom of the prairie dock has just opened. The preying mantises of May have reached full size. Giant Imperial moths emerge at night. Naked ladies (pale violet-pink Resurrection lilies) stillsway in the gardens. Fireflies disappear. Windfall is coming: acorns, apples, plums peaches, osage fruits, hickory nuts, black walnuts. Cup plants tower over the coneflowers and the black-eyed Susans.

The Perseid meteors appeared out of winter’s Taurus and Orion, cut across Perseus and Andromeda, Cassiopeia and Pegasus, and they pierced an old child-like sense of endless summer when time seemed to last forever and I was lulled by the lack of experience, the lack of familiarity with the seasons, and by disbelief that anything so fine could close.

The starfall of late summer unmasks the fantasy of permanence. Now I know too much to believe, have seen too many meteors and Augusts. Only in the spaces between knowledge and memories can I find the warmth of a willing suspension of knowing, the quiet warmth of not knowing and of ignoring the signs and of holding stability and innocence in the middle of the speeding whirl of weathered, older-person time.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the third week of late summer. In the meantime, ignore the signs. Summer might last forever.

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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.