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Poor Will's Almanack: July 4 - 10, 2017

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Now in early middle summer, the days still seem to last forever, the Sweet Corn Moon is waxing, and cicadas soon fill the warm mornings and afternoons with their high buzzing whine. The number of flowers in bloom reaches its peak, and the world is full of color.

Sirius, the Dog Star, the star of the Dog Days of July, moves to the center of the southern sky at noon, announcing the most intense heat of the year. Late at night, middle summer brings the stars of Hercules almost overhead, bearing the first ripening tomatoes, fresh sweet corn and green beans, and zucchini. In the east, Cygnus (the Northern Cross), Lyra with bright Vega, and Aquila with its anchor star, Altair, are rising with the Milky Way, foretelling blackberries and peaches and plums of August.

The tone of green in the leaves of the high canopy takes on a slight midsummer darkening.  Now the crickets and the katydids, whose night calls will soon replace the early morning songbird chorus, emerge in the shade. Fledgling sparrows and grackles and blue jays pester their parents to harvest the last black raspberries and serviceberries and mulberries of June. Hummingbird moths drink the impatiens, and bumblebees take pollen from the beebalm. Robins come together in flocks, crows call once again before dawn (their fledglings away), the first sweeping and swirling murmuration of starlings soars above the corn.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I'll be back again next week with notes for the third week of middle summer. In the meantime, look all around you: everything you see is middle summer.

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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.