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Poor Will's Almanack: July 28 – August 3, 2020

Researchers who study time often refer to “time in nature” as “wild time,” time that has not been domesticated by human schedules.

Now, when katydids and crickets are filling the nights with their rasping and shrill rhythms, one might enter the wilderness that lies ahead by keeping pace with the measures of the insect metronomes.

Free from society’s clock and calendar, the crickets and katydids create an audible structure under which the first purple blossoms of the tall ironweed open in the fields, and under which blackberries ripen, and grackles come together, flocking before autumn.

Starlings spin in murmurations now above the bare wheat fields. On the East Coast, shorebirds move south, often stopping to rest on North Carolina’s outer banks. In the honeysuckles of the Midwest, adult robins teach migration calls to their young.

Thistledown unravels completely to the wild time of cricketsongs and katydid-dids, and seedpods form on the trumpet creepers. Ragweed heads up as honewort and wood nettle, mallow, and tall meadow rue go to seed. Patches of yellow appear on the cottonwoods. Black walnut leaves start to fall.

All across the country, Joe Pye weed, tall coneflower, white snakeroot, and Japanese knotweed – bloom in the open fields and along the fence rows.

Pods of the touch-me-not burst at the slightest movement. Dogbane seedpods swing in the wind. To the wild songs of the crickets and katydids, grapes and pokeweed berries darken in the fields under the waxing moon.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the seventh and final week of Deep Summer In the meantime, forget the clock and calendar. Wander in the wilderness of wild time.

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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.