Escaping the noon soon, I enter the cool woods. Here everything is dark and subdued. It is the third week of middle summer, a quiet space between the forest’s seasons, most the late spring and early summer flowers gone, none of the late summer flowers blooming.
May apples have toppled over, foliage dappled with yellow. Leafcup plants have been eaten off by deer, will bloom as they recover. Soft, wet moss on a fallen tree glows in the twilight beneath the canopy.
A few late enchanter’s nightshade plants still have tiny blossoms, but early summer’s honewort is gone. Pollen has disappeared from the clustered snakeroot. Some spicebushes and privets have green berries.
Touch-me-nots are tall but not budded yet. The wood nettle is still not ready to flower. Light cobwebs, not the stickier ones of the late summer micrathenas, sometimes lie across my way.
A few inches above last year’s layer of leaves, the foliage of spring’s ginger, waterleaf, and bloodroot lingers as a low, intermittent covering, replacing the common chickweed that dominated the forest floor in April. A lone daisy fleabane and one wilted ragwort have blossoms near a spring that crosses the path.
The shy stalks of August’s ironweed, zig-zag goldenrod, white snakeroot and the small-flowered asters blend into the honeysuckles, their timing tuned by heat and the amount of sunlight to hold them until late summer. A few damselflies hover near the grizzled skunk cabbage. Cardinals call in the distance. Robins sing to guide their young.
This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the fourth week of middle summer. In the meantime, walk in the woods, watch and listen.