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Poor Will's Almanack: May 19 - 25, 2020

ewan traveler
Flickr Creative Commons

This week brings on the collapse of late spring, the accumulation of leafing and flowering overloading the landscape until it is overcome by summer.

As May grows and moves toward June, there is a darkening and a maturing of the leaves.  The mix of chlorophyll thickens in foliage, and as the sun moves higher in the sky, it strikes the earth at a more direct, less flattering angle.

The eclipse of the land beneath the closing canopy erases the dapples of spring. The porous latticework of April flora disappears. Only the shade plants survive now under the full crown of the woods: the leafcup, the enchanter’s nightshade, the tall bellflower, the wood nettle, the clustered snakeroot.

But in fields and gardens, new flowers appear every day, hiding the debris of spring, covering decay with a deceiving momentum and arrogance, promising that there can never be a final cycle of blossoms.

Strawberries ripen, and then the raspberries and then the cherries and the apples and the blackberries. This more mellow world is rich and filling, balancing loss of light with sweetness. 

The heat intensifies, and the aging grows more pronounced as the summer progresses, given shape in the peaches and plums and grapes. And the deep emerald of July becomes the black-green and then tattered woods of August, fringed with orange and golden Judas colors, finally overwhelming the memories of shining April and May with its own bright offspring.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Miami Valley Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the first week of early Summer.  In the meantime, look for fresh local strawberries in the market, a certain sign of summer.

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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.