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Poor Will's Almanack: October 22 - 28, 2019

Ellyn B.
Flickr Creative Commons

The Sun’s passage from Libra to Scorpio on Cross-Quarter Day October 23 opens the hinge of Middle Autumn and initiates the most dramatic period of leaf fall. Throughout this final stage of the natural year, the landscape becomes fully primed for the new signs and seasons to come.

As the days shorten, the effects of the weakening sun are easily seen in the collapse of almost all the foliage. Smaller changes also offer measure of Scorpio. The low trills of the field crickets become slow, then rare.

Goldenrod flowers become gray and turn to downy tufts. Pokeweed berries shrivel and fall. Wingstem turns brittle from the cold. Knotweed withers. Jerusalem artichokes yellow, stalks collapsing.

The last flocks of robins, blackbirds and herring gulls complete their migration. The last sandhill cranes depart their northern nesting grounds, the first formations reaching the Ohio Valley just days before November’s Sagittarius.

The last monarchs sail over the last roses. The last black walnuts and Osage fall. The last raspberry bushes and apple trees give up their fruit. The last autumn violets and dandelions go into dormancy. The last witch hazel blossoms curl in the hard frost.

Milkweed and white snakeroot seeds scatter. Bittersweet opens. Asian lady beetles take shelter in bark and siding. Deer mate in the night. Winged seed pods of the hosta droop and melt. Black privet berries and rose hips appear as their foliage thins. Winter wheat sprouts and greens the fields. Skunk cabbage spears push out from the muck, forecasting spring.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the final week of Middle Fall.  In the meantime, follow the sun in Scorpio. It’s not so hard: the sun’s position is mirrored in events on earth.

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Bill Felker has been writing nature columns and almanacs for regional and national publications since 1984. His Poor Will’s Almanack has appeared as an annual publication since 2003. His organization of weather patterns and phenology (what happens when in nature) offers a unique structure for understanding the repeating rhythms of the year.