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Poor Will's Almanack: May 11 - 17, 2021

Stanley Zimny
Flickr Creative Commons

Poor Will’s Almanack for the Third Week of Late Spring, the first week of the Cottonwood Cotton Moon, the fourth week of the sun in Taurus.

The center of Late Spring is already closing the over the woodlands from the Mississippi River through the East.

Maples and box elder foliage is reaching full size. Sycamores, osage, cottonwoods and oaks are leafing out, and white mulberries and buckeyes blossom. Along the sidewalks, the fluorescence of purple iris, orange poppies, red sweet Williams, and the pale bridal wreath spirea has appeared. The delicate Korean lilacs join the fading standard lilac varieties, and bright rhododendrons replace the azaleas.

Serviceberry trees have small green berries now. In the alleys, scarlet pimpernel comes in beside the thyme-leafed speedwell. Daisies unravel, and wood hyacinths and star of Bethlehem are at their best.

Columbine is open on the cliffs, and Solomon's seal, bellwort, wild phlox, trillium grandiflorum, wild geranium, early meadow rue, swamp buttercups, ginger, and Jacob’s ladder bloom in the woods

White-throated sparrows, ruby-crowned kinglets, so many warblers, tanagers, grosbeaks, and orioles pass north, announcing the close of the season of nighttime frosts.

Mayflies are out along the water. Bullfrogs call. Minnows and chubs are flushed red for their mating season. Flea time begins for pets. Ticks are already wandering the fields.

Spitbugs grow in the shelter of swamp parsnips, announcing that the first cut of hay will soon be underway. Flies are pesky in the mild afternoons, and cows are switching their tails to discourage them. And deep in the woods, the seventeen-year cicadas, members of the Great Eastern Brood X, are coming up out of the ground.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the fourth week of Late Spring. In the meantime, keep visiting the woods looking for the seventeen year cicadas. They don’t bite or sting. But they are fun to watch.

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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.