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Poor Will's Almanack: September 22 - 28, 2020

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Poor Will’s Almanack for the third week of early fall, the second week of the Winter Grain Planting Moon. It is the first week of the Sun in Libra.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack for the third week of early fall, the second week of the Winter Grain Planting Moon. It is the first week of the Sun in Libra.

The woodland asters end their blooming season now, and goldenrod is seeding, pods of the eastern burning bush are open, hawthorn berries redden, wild grapes are purple, and the tree line that seemed so deep in summer just days ago is suddenly poised to break into its final color of the year.

When asters die back, streaks of scarlet appear on the oaks, shades of pink on the dogwoods. The ashes all show red or gold; the catalpas and the cottonwoods blanch. Shagbark hickories, tulip trees, sassafras, elms, locusts and sweet gums change to full yellow, merge with the swelling orange of the maples to create a variegated pathway to October.

After the asters disappear, meadowlarks, yellow-rumped warblers and purple martins migrate. Titmice chirp, and sometimes cardinals sing. Robins give their short migration clucks.

As the canopy thins, hemlock, ragwort, yarrow, waterleaf, violets, wild ginger and sweet Cicely grow back. Sometimes, forsythia and lilacs come into bloom again. But the tall sedums begin to relinquish their petals, and autumn crocuses die back. August’s jumpseed stems are bare. Touch-me-nots are popping, thimble plants unraveling. The toothed leaves of beggarticks darken overnight.

Cabbage butterflies seem more reckless in their search for nectar. Aphids disappear in the chilly nights. The last cicadas die. Japanese beetles complete their season. Daddy longlegs disappear from the undergrowth. Damselflies are rare along the rivers now, and darners have left their suburban ponds.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the fourth week of early fall. In the meantime, watch closely. The more you notice, the longer autumn lingers.

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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.