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Poor Will's Almanack: September 19 - 25, 2017

autumn leaves
Flickr Creative Commons

When autumn leafturn starts near equinox in the Midwest, the deciduous trees are bare in northern Canada.  In Oregon and Maine, foliage colors are approaching their best. In the Rocky Mountains, bull elks are mustering their harems, and snow is falling.  Along the 40th parallel, the smoky tint of last week’s canopy quickly becomes clear and bright.

Now the soybean fields are yellow.  Touch-me-nots are popping.  Wood nettle seeds are black.  Wingstem, clearweed and ironweed complete their cycle.  Buckeyes are starting to burst from their hulls.  More black walnuts, more hickory nuts, more acorns come down.  The huge pink mallows of the wetlands have died, heads dark, leaves disintegrating.  Scattered in the pastures, the milkweed pods are full, straining, ready to open.  Mullein stalks stand bare like withered cacti.  In the perennial garden, varieties of late hostas, like the August Moon and the Royal Standard, discard their petals.

Robin migration calls complement the chatter of the crows and jays and squirrels in the early mornings. Grackles are flocking in the fields.  Cicada holidays become more frequent in the cooler afternoons. Sometimes katydids keep silence after dark, leaving the whole night to the great chorus of crickets.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Miami Valley Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the third week of early fall. In the meantime, watch for milkweed pods opening in the fields.

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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.