Poor Will's Almanack: August 2 – August 8

Aug 2, 2011

Poor Will’s Almanack for the seventh week of Middle Summer

As Middle Summer comes to a close, ragweed pollen fills the humid afternoons, wood nettle goes to seed in the bottomlands, wild cherries ripen, and 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---- the Joe Pye weed, monkey flower, tall coneflower, clearweed, horseweed, white snakeroot, jumpseed, prickly mallow, 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 rule the gardens. Orange-and-gold-flowered trumpet vines still curl through trellises. Ephemeral resurrection lilies replace the day lilies, the Asiatic lilies and the Oriental lilies. Mums and stonecrop color the dooryards. In the shade of the woods, leafcup is the dominant flower, almost the only one in bloom. Along the lakeshores, rusty dodder spreads across the tattered black raspberry bushes. Milkweed flowers turn to pods.

In the mornings, cardinals and doves still sing briefly half an hour before dawn. Robins sometimes give long singsong performances throughout the day. Blue jays still care for their young, whining and flitting through the bushes. But starlings and warblers become more restless. The number of fireflies dwindles. Hummingbirds, meadow larks, Baltimore orioles and purple martins start to disappear south; their departure marks a quickening in the sun’s drop to equinox.

Next week on Poor Will’s Almanack: notes for the first week of Late Summer. In the meantime, sit out after dark, listen to the katydids and the crickets telling you the time of year.