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Poor Will's Almanack: August 9 – 15, 2016

Joshua Mayer
Flickr Creative Commons

The pieces of late summer fall into place, creating the season. The heat stays, but the rhythm shifts, the tones of the leaves are different, colors and sounds and scents all pointing to September.

Cottonwood leaves are becoming pale near my house. In the park, black walnut, sumac, wild grape, sycamore, elm, box elder, and redbud are turning yellow. The katydids, which started to sing last week in my neighborhood, are in full chorus after dark. The cicadas have finally all come out and fill the afternoons.

Patches of red Virginia creeper outline tree trunks, some buckeye trees are almost completely bare, some wood nettle leaves turning white. The lanky Joe Pye weed is going to seed. Summer apples are lying all about the yard. Leaves trickle to the undergrowth.  The smell of the wind is becoming more pungent, sweeter, sharper as the vegetation evolves.

Cardinals sang just a little this morning, and a few doves eventually joined in, but both doves and cardinals are sleeping late now that late summer has arrived.

In the alley, giant ragweed is getting pollen and the first burdock blooms have appeared. Wild blue chicory is lush, complementing the purple garden phlox in Mrs. Timberlake’s yard. Across the street, new black-eyed Susans create August color.    

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the second week of late summer. In the meantime, take time to smell the wind and watch the colors of late summer deepen around you.

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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.