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Poor Will's Almanack: August 17 - 23, 2021

Ripe plums
Greg Jordan
via Flickr Creative Commons

Poor Will’s Almanack for the third week of Late Summer, the second week of the Restless Billy Goat Moon, the first week the sun in Virgo

When the Sun slides into Virgo and Billy Goats are really restless as mating time approaches, then Judas maples show their color, bright orange in the otherwise solid green of the woodlots, then catalpas start to pale. Buckeye leaves are browning under the high canopy. Patches of scarlet appear in the sumac and poison ivy. Ash and cottonwood can be yellowing from the heat.

In perennial gardens, the last phlox, coneflowers and helianthus define the last days of the best time of year. Along the freeways, beds of white boneset have come into bloom beside the drifts of blue chicory and silver Queen Anne's lace.

In the woods and pastures, you can find tall ironweed, wingstem, wild oxeye, small-flowered agrimony, tall bellflower, white snakeroot, wild lettuce, sundrops, heal-all, wild cucumber, jumpseed, tall coneflower, clearweed, touch-me-not and goldenrod.

Wild plums are ripe for jam, and woodland grapes are purple. Some elderberries are ready for wine. Puffball mushrooms emerge among spring's rotting stems and leaves. Greenbrier berries darken.

Crickets, cicadas and katydids become more insistent. Cardinal song becomes fainter. Long flocks of blackbirds pursue the harvest. Cedar waxwings and catbirds migrate.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the fourth week of late summer. In the meantime, watch for all the small autumnal things that happen as the Earth changes its relationship to the Sun.

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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.