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Poor Will's Almanack: August 3 – 9, 2021

billy goat
Flickr Creative Commons

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack for the first week of late summer, the fourth week of the Buzzing Cicada Moon, and the transition time to the Restless Billy Goat Moon, the third week of the sun in Leo.

The first week of late summer is the first week of ragweed time. It is also the time that the day’s length falls below 14 hours, signaling female goats to come into heat, and stir up the billy goats. And it is the time that wood nettle goes to seed in the bottomlands, the time that hickory nuts and black walnuts drop into the undergrowth.

Blackberries are ready to eat when ragweed blossoms. And the season’s second-last wave of wildflowers— Joe Pye weed, monkey flower, tall coneflower, clearweed, horseweed, white snakeroot, jumpseed, prickly mallow, willow herb, virgin's bower, white boneset, field thistle and Japanese knotweed -- come into bloom in the open fields and along the fence rows.

Golden and purple coneflowers, and red, pink and violet phlox still dominate the gardens. Ephemeral resurrection lilies replace the day lilies. Mums and stonecrop appear in the dooryards. Along the lakeshores, orange dodder spreads across the tattered black raspberry bushes. Milkweed bugs start to die as milkweed flowers turn to pods.

In the mornings, cardinals and doves still sing briefly half an hour before dawn. Robins still give long singsong performances throughout the day. Blue jays still care for their young, whining and flitting through the bushes. Bullfrogs still call in the ponds.

But by the end of the week, meadowlarks and plovers fly south, leading the first sizeable bird migrations of the year’s second half.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the second week of late summer. In the meantime, stay away from billy goats under the Restless Billy Goat Moon.

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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.