Poor Will Almanack: May 24 – 30, 2011

May 24, 2011

Poor Will’s Almanack for the first week of early summer.

When lilies and thistles bloom, mulberries ripen, box turtles lay eggs, and winter wheat turns pale gold green, then it is the first week of Early Summer, and the whole season lies out before us. Blue chicory flowers in the waysides. Catalpas and privets and pink spirea bloom as the first cutting of hay gets underway. Nodding thistles, Canadian thistles, first daisy fleabane, the first great mullein, the first Asiatic lily, the first orange trumpet creeper and the first tall meadow rue open.

In Early Summer's second week, moth mullein, wild garlic, crown vetch and quickweed bloom along the highways. The early mornings become quieter, but young grackles beg for food from their parents all day. The first monarch butterfly caterpillars feed on carrot tops and parsley. Black and red raspberries start their season, and blackberries set their fruit.
The darkening of the winter wheat measures the steady advance of the season, and the third week of Early Summer brings the first harvest in the warmest years. When the wheat is golden brown, chiggers roam the woods, and Japanese beetles enjoy the field and garden. Lilies and hostas and Shasta daisies, hollyhock, and mallow color the garden. Pie cherries are ready to pick.

The full harvest of winter wheat marks the final week of Early Summer, the time when shining orange butterfly weed opens and acorns become fully formed. Sycamore bark starts to shed. Thistle flowers change to down as hemlock season closes. In wetlands and ditches, the soft heads of cattails are full of pollen.

Next week on Poor Will's Almanack: notes for the second week of Early Summer. In the meantime, find your private markers for the season, then watch them change.