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Poor Will's Almanack: August 10 – 16, 2021

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Clemens v. Vogelsang
/
via Flickr Creative Commons

Poor Will’s Almanack for the second week of Late Summer, the first full week of the Restless Billy Goat Moon and the fourth week of the sun in Leo.

As late summer deepens, breeding time begins for most billy goats and does, and katydids sing throughout the night. They call out the close of the Dog Days, and even though the heat often lingers, the rhythm of the season has shifted, its tones have been altered, colors and sounds and scents all pointing to fall.

Now average temperatures start to drop a degree and a half every seven days until the middle of September, at which point they decline about one degree every three days into January. Migration clucking among the robins increases. Some days, there will be a long and steady cardinal song before sunrise, then silence. Hummingbirds, wood ducks, Baltimore orioles and purple martins start to disappear south.

When katydids sing and billy goats are restless, cottonwood foliage is yellowing. Black walnut foliage is thinning, foretaste of the great leafdrop. Locust leaves turn brown, damaged by leaf miners. Violet Joe Pye weed grays like thistledown. Spicebush berries redden. Tall goldenrod is heading up. Rose pinks and great blue lobelia color the waysides. In the thunderstorms of late summer, green acorns fall to the sweet rocket growing back among the budding asters.

This is the time that spiders in the woods weave their final webs and fireflies complete their cycle. Monarch butterflies become more common in their passage to Mexico, and another generation of cabbage moths, swallowtails and skippers emerges. Sometimes giant imperial moths appear at porch lights. Autumn’s yellow jackets come to the fallen apples and plums.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the third week of late summer. In the meantime, watch for the bright orange leaves of Judas maples in the woodlots.

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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.