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Poor Will's Almanack: July 6 – 12, 2021

cricket on leaf
Sylvia Sassen
Flickr Creative Commons

Poor Will’s Almanack for the Third Week of Deep Summer, the transition week to the Buzzing Cicada Moon, the second week of the sun in Cancer.

The 17-year cicadas ended their cycle just a few weeks ago, and now it is time for the yearly summer appearance of the annual cicadas.

When the first of these annual cicadas of the year sing at noon, then purple ironweed, tall coneflowers and gray-headed coneflowers are budding in the fields. Blueweed flowers are at the top of their spikes in annual cicada time, just as the first burdock blooms.

And where there are flowers, there is fruit. Maroon seedpods have formed on the locusts. Black walnuts are half-size. Avens and thimble plants are forming seed heads under the canopy.

Blackberries are August-size this week, but still green. Acorns are as big as marbles. Berries form on the heads of elderberry bushes. The wheat is dark and almost half cut by the time the annual cicadas sing. The early tomatoes redden. Milkweed pods emerge.

In the ponds and wetlands, purple loosestrife overruns the sloughs. Water plantain and arrowhead have started to bloom and the heads of lizard’s tail, still white and soft a week ago, are stiff and brown.

New generations of crickets are born; they will start their nighttime chants in the last days of July, balancing daytime cicada song. The morning bird chorus is far softer now than it was just a few days ago. Pre-dawn robinsong suddenly stops in the middle of July. Cardinals and doves call before sunrise, but their spring volume and intensity are gone.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the fourth week of Deep Summer. In the meantime, get up early for the last of the predawn bird chorus. Then stay up all day to listen to cicadas, and after dark listen for the first late summer crickets.

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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.