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Poor Will's Almanack: September 25 - October 1, 2018

milkweed pod
Flickr Creative Commons

The days continue clear and bright. Two weeks ago, much of the landscape was still deep, late-summer green. Now, a few maples and dogwoods are orange, or red. Cottonwoods and catalpas and sweet gums and shagbark hickories are yellow. Grape vines and nettles are bleached with age. Locust leaves drizzle steadily to the undergrowth. The serviceberries are almost bare. The black walnut trees keep only their last fruit. Purple poison ivy and Virginia creeper outline the changes.

In yards and gardens, the virgin’s bower is done flowering. White boneset and New England asters are in decline, but the cabbage moths still spin around them. A few rose of Sharon and Japanese honeysuckle blossoms hold on. The last jumpseeds still jump when my fingers stroke them. Dragonflies still hunt in the ponds.  Monarchs and painted ladies and swallowtails come by each day.

In the woods this afternoon, kingfishers were screaming up and down the river throughout my walk. Late goldenrod was still in bloom, along with white snakeroot and the small white asters and the violet heart-leafed asters. The zigzag goldenrod, orange jewelweed and the blue-stemmed goldenrod still blossomed at the far side of their season. 

Driving south near dusk, I noticed the milkweed pods were open, their silk shining in the last light.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the final week of Early Fall. In the meantime, watch for milkweed pods to come open after a rain or freeze. They tell the end of the season better than an almanack...

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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.