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Poor Will's Almanack: June 15 - 21, 2021

Golden-back Snipe Fly
Judy Gallagher
/
Flickr Creative Commons

Poor Will’s Almanack for the Transition time between Early Summer and Deep Summer, the second week of the Mating Milkweed Bug Moon, the final week of the sun in Gemini, and the transition to Cancer.

As you explore the woods or garden, you may see a handsome black fly with a gold marking on it back. That would be Chrysopilus thoracicus, the Golden-Backed Snipe Fly.

I first discovered the insect on May 24, 1987 when I was walking along the river. Mayflies were everywhere then, and black flies with gold markings were mating. Geese were out on the water with their goslings maybe a third grown. I saw a box turtle on the path and my first dragon fly of the year.

The Golden-backed Snipe Fly was a creature I had never seen before; it was a new piece of the environment I was trying to understand. Since that time, it has been for me a welcome addition to the events of Early Summer and one of many signs that all is still well with the planet.

Learning a landscape goes well beyond naming or identifying things. Real learning requires, I think, a kind of attachment, a friendship, as well as some part of personal identity and experience.

As years pass, the Golden-Backed Snipe Flies continue to be touchstones for me, part of the season, and the memory of discovery.

And the snipe fly is a connective piece, like a glimpse of a migrating bird or butterfly, conspicuous because of its association with vast movements, signs and symbols of all I cannot have or touch, here on the leaves in June.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the First Week of Deep Summer. In the meantime, keep your eye out for the Golden-Backed Snipe Fly. It doesn’t bite or sting, and it’s another sign that all is well with the world.

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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.