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Poor Will's Almanack: May 4 - 10, 2021

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Poor Will’s Almanack for the Second Week of Late Spring, the fourth week of the Cows Switching their Tails Moon, the third week of the sun in Taurus.

It won’t be long before Brood X of the 17-Year Cicadas, the Great Eastern Brood, emerges throughout Ohio and fourteen other eastern states.

I encountered those creatures one day back in 2004, exactly 17 years ago. Entering woods along a river, I walked slowly along the path making my way through prickly nettle and old garlic mustard.

I looked and looked. Then suddenly, there they were, resting quietly all around, waiting for me. They were an inch or two in length. Their wings were shiny and gold, their eyes red, their bodies black.

I approached them cautiously, carefully stepping off the trail and entering the inner sanctum of their habitat. I reached down and touched one on the back, then stroked its soft wings. The creature remained still, seemed completely unafraid, and accepted my caress as though it had been expecting my curiosity.

With only slight encouragement, one climbed up on my index finger and looked at me benignly while I studied its angelic wings, and wondered at its docility and its trust.

In a week, I whispered to my guest, all of this soundless, contemplative, prepubescent innocence would be gone. He (if he were a he) would be mad with lust, loud and frantic, charging into trees and automobiles or plunging into the river. And she (if she were a she) would be watching, listening, waiting, loving the grand display.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the third week of Late Spring. In the meantime, go looking for Brood X. If you find those cicadas, you should be able to find them in the same place again in 2038.

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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.