In this fifth week of late summer, the final tier of wildflowers starts to open. White and violet asters, orange beggarticks, burr marigolds, tall goldenrod, zigzag goldenrod and Japanese knotweed come into bloom, blending with the brightest of the purple ironweed, yellow sundrops, blue chicory, golden touch-me-nots, showy coneflowers and great blue lobelia.
Deep in the woods, the late wildflowers of this year coincide with the first growth of second spring, actually the first days of next spring. March’s henbit comes up in the garden. Wood mint puts out new stalks. Watercress revives in the sloughs. Next May's sweet rockets and next July’s avens send up fresh basal leaves. Scattered violets flower. Sweet Cicely sends out its foliage again. Sedum reappears, lanky from its canopied summer.
On the farm, pickle season is usually over, and peaches can be done for the year. Grapes are about to come in, and elderberries are deep purple and sweet for picking. Nearly half of the tobacco has usually been cut, half the commercial tomatoes have been picked, about a fourth of the potatoes dug.
Hickory nutting season opens as sweet-corn time winds down. Burrs from tick trefoil stick to your stockings when you wander off the trail. Lizard's tail drops its leaves into the creeks and sloughs. Beside the deer paths of the forests, the undergrowth is tattered and cluttered with the remnants of the year.
The last fireflies are flickering. Red-headed woodpeckers, red-winged blackbirds, house wrens, scarlet tanagers, indigo buntings, eastern bluebirds and black ducks migrate.
This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I'll be back again next week with notes for the first week of early fall. In the meantime, look for signs of second spring, prophesy of the year to come.