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Poor Will's Almanack: July 12 - 18, 2016

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Before eight o’clock this morning, crows and grackles were screeching in the mulberry tree. Sparrows were feeding heavily, black-capped chickadee weaving in and out of their flocking.

Cicadas began to whine as the sun came up over the trees, hummingbirds came to the feeders.  Spicebush swallowtails, skippers, cabbage butterflies, hummingbird moths, tiger swallowtails all explored the garden.
Bundled in these and so many other events, the yard, the neighborhood  – and, I suppose, my life – have passed some kind of high-timber line of summer beyond which the greener treasures of the center of the year grow thin.

Looking about, I see that leafturn has started now in the undergrowth. At the park, hemlock, parsnips, and many dock plants are withered and brittle. June's clovers and grasses are past their prime.
The astilbes are about gone; the ditch lilies are done; the Indomitable Sprit hydrangea’s large, pink blossoms are browning; the spiderwort still blooms, but its foliage is discolored and aging; the mid-season hosta flowers are more than halfway up their stalks.

Robins have completed their predawn mating chorus, and their calls now guide their young with staccato peeps and chirps. That language is used as well to call the wider flock, the great family, together for autumn and winter feeding and migration.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the fourth week of middle summer. In the meantime,  listen for robins peeping in the bushes, guiding their young, teaching them about what lies ahead.

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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.