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Poor Will's Almanack: October 2 - 8, 2018

fall corn field against a cloudy sky
Michael Patterson
Flickr Creative Commons

Driving south toward the river valley, I head into an autumn thunderstorm. The soybeans are yellow, and the corn is old. Most black walnut trees are bare, fruit exposed and swinging in the rain. Small white asters and goldenrod are in late bloom; chicory is still open.

The breeze is steady but gentle from the southwest, leaving intact the haze across the valley. Buzzards circle. Poplars are weathered, the raindrops darken the remaining green, brighten the patches of yellow on the Osage. Queen Anne's lace is so thick in the fields that it looks like cotton. I pass boneset seeding in the creek, and hundreds of yards of thistles, down matted to their stems.

Milkweed pods are opening. Tobacco is hanging in a few barns. I stop and walk in the light rain  to the steady chanting of crickets, following the smell of wood smoke, and wet leaves, river mud, and bittersweet old pollen, old wildflowers and hay.

Sycamores are turning; two of their leaves fall right in front of me. Tattered blue dayflowers stand beside me. Summer spider webs almost are gone. The purple loosestrife has ended its flower cycle along the water. The huge pink mallows have died, heads black, leaves decaying, stems dark. Wild cucumbers have formed, prickly like cacti. Beggarticks, heal all, mistflower and heart-leafed asters are open. Toward evening, I park by the water and listen to crows in the trees on the ridge above me.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the first week of Middle Fall.  In the meantime, go for a walk or a drive. See what is happening.

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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.