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Poor Will's Almanack: August 25 - 31, 2020

For a moment, I separate myself from the cares of social time and embrace the physical world with the temporal yet endless matter and energy of late August:

Judas trees betray summer’s green with patches of gold showing on the Osage and cottonwoods and poplars and maples, kisses of scarlet on creeper and poison ivy. Panicled dogwood has its first white berries. Dogbane pods have grown to ten inches now and a few are turning red. Wood nettle, tall nettle and small-flowered agrimony have gone to black seeds. Buckeye leaves are browning, walnut trees weathering and shedding. Redbuds and burning bush are blushing. Mint has reached the close of its cycle, teasel is complete, and coneflowers are fading.

Ragweed pollen disappears along with the last of the garden phlox. The great blue lobelia, landmark of late August, is in full bloom.

Although the morning chorus of birds is over for the year, nighthawks pass over in the night, screech owls haunt the pre-dawn woods, and cardinals, crows, doves, and blue jays sometimes call off and on at daybreak. It is the week of the first frost in the Montana mountains, time for snow in Canada. Sundogs, sun through crystals, sometimes form over the Ohio Valley these afternoons, foretaste of the winter sky.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the fourth week of Late Summer In the meantime, the season of light frosts opens with September throughout the Lower Midwest and the East. Enjoy your tomatoes while you can.

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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.