The sun enters Sagittarius on November 22, having traveled three-fourths of its way from autumn equinox to winter solstice. Two hours before midnight, the sky carries the forms of early winter. The Pleiades, Taurus and Orion are rising. The Milky Way cuts across the sky from east to west,.Andromeda lies directly overhead, and the Summer Triangle is setting.
The final rites of fall include a chronology of the last leaves and fruits. Major losses occur on beeches and pears as autumn ends. Sometimes oaks are the holdouts, sometimes forsythia or a hardy honeysuckle. Sometimes sweet gums and poplars keep a few leaves this late in the year; sometimes protected oak-leaf hydrangeas, Osage, mock orange or lilacs outlast all the other trees and shrubs.
Bittersweet continues to fall to the undergrowth. Yellow witch hazel flowers are shriveling. Privets are bare, their blue berries revealed. Euonymus fruits are losing their white outer shells, orange cores unveiled by the cold.
New England aster and stonecrop foliage turned yellow in early November; now the plants are shedding. Late garden lettuce and the autumn growth of rhubarb have withered. Hosta leaves have collapsed into the remnants of maples, ginkgoes and white mulberries. The gooseneck turns chocolate brown. Most all the seeds are gone from milkweed pods; just a few wisps of down cling to their shells. Fragile pokeweed stems have exploded in the frost.
This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the fourth week of late fall. In the meantime, make your last rites, your last farewell, for fall.