Poor Will's Almanack: November 22 -29, 2011

Nov 21, 2011

Poor Will’s Almanack for the Third Week of Late Fall.

Even though this week is often one of the darkest and wettest of the Late Fall, milder autumns offer recollections as well as promises of spring.

Some years, garlic mustard has grown four or five inches tall, its leaves wide and bright. Chickweed has come back along the paths, and cress has revived in the pools and streams. Skunk cabbage has pushed up all over the swamp, some plants even opening a little. The low sun sets the new plants glowing like they glow in April.

Fed by honeysuckle berries, robins linger in town and in the woods. Starlings cluck and whistle at sunrise, and cardinals and pileated woodpeckers and bobwhites sing off and on throughout the day. Finches work the sweet gum tree fruits, digging out the seeds from their hollows. Sparrow hawks appear on the fences, watching for mice in the bare fields.

Crickets still sing in the warmer evenings, and the last daddy longlegs huddle together in the woodpile, waiting for their corners to warm. Mosquitoes still wait for prey near backwaters and puddles. Late woolly bear caterpillars, most of them dark orange and black, still emerge on backroads when the asphalt is hot from the sun. Cabbage moths still look for cabbage. Yellow jackets sometimes come out to look for fallen fruit.

Next week on Poor Will’s Almanack: notes for the fourth week of Late Fall. In the meantime, watch and listen: the remnants of the summer all promise they will come again.