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Puffball mushrooms appear as summer nights cool
Poor Will’s Almanack
By Bill Felker

August 14-20, 2006

Above the arching jimson-weeds flare twos
And twos of sallow-yellow butterflies,
Like blooms of lorn primroses blowing loose,
When autumn winds arise.

-James Whitcomb Riley

The astronomical calendar for the third week of late summer:
The Love Vine Moon wanes throughout the period, coming into its final quarter at 8:51 p.m. on Aug. 15 and then turning into the new Puffball Mushroom Moon at 12:10 p.m. on Aug. 23. The Puffball Mushroom Moon presides over the gradual cooling of summer nights in the woodlands, which contributes to the rise of the great moon-like fungi, the puffballs.

Also on Aug. 23, the sun enters its early autumn sign of Virgo, reaching half of the way to equinox at the same time.

Weather patterns
August 24: Now the likelihood of severe heat in the nation’s midsection is only half of what it was at the beginning of August, and this late-August high-pressure system brings chances for light frost along the Canadian border.

Across the central states and the South, however, this front brings little change.

Mind and body
The S.A.D. Index, which measures the forces that contribute to seasonal affective disorders on a scale of 1 to 100, climbs into the 40s again this week. If you are especially sensitive to the day’s length, you may begin to feel the effects of Index readings in that range as summer wanes and autumn approaches.

Natural year
When next year’s sweet rocket foliage has grown back in the woods, then wild plums are ripe enough for jelly.

When the midseason hosta and the lilies are gone, summer stabilizes again, solid in the gold and purple coneflowers, the tall wingstem and ironweed, the opening of ragweed, the green budding stalks of the goldenrod poised, their full season still ahead, reassuring, promising the long-lived asters in another few weeks.

When dogbane seedpods turn reddish brown in the fields, then wood nettle has gone to seed under the high canopy.

When elm trees start to turn, then watch for mallards flying south, Whip-poorwills, cedar waxwings and catbirds follow.

When you find your first puffball mushroom (big and white like a lost soccer ball) in the woods, then mallards will be migrating and farmers will be preparing their fields for winter wheat seeding.

When greenbrier berries are black, then prickly mallow will be blooming along the fencerows and almost all the oats will be cut. When cardinals stop singing before dawn, then the last of the summer apples will be picked, and the wood thrush will be moving south across the Ohio River.

When arrowhead blooms in the waterways, then pale Asian lady beetles have begun their late-summer migration.

Best fishing
Expect a lull in the fishing action after the August 17th front goes east, but then an increase in angling action as the August 24th high-pressure system approaches. Since the moon will be overhead in the middle of the day, keep your line in the water at that time. While you are waiting for a bite, do a little scouting in the woods to take notes on game activity.

Winter forecast
Although snow flurries sometimes fall in October, the Miami Valley snow season begins in November. December normally brings three to four times as much snow as November. January is typically the snowiest month with 50 to 100 percent more snow than December.

February’s snowfall is typically half that of January.

Last year’s November brought about half an inch of snow, the 20th year that snowfall has been below the century-old average of two inches.

Since temperatures should be cooler than average this year, we might see at least an inch, maybe two inches. November rainfall, however, has been between two-tenths of an inch to an inch above average since 2002; so the region is due for an average or below average year in terms of total precipitation.

If storms do occur, weather patterns suggest that they will happen in the following periods: November 2-5, 14-16, and especially November 22-27.

December has given us above-average snowfall for two years in a row - the average being about eight inches. That is extremely unusual.

The last time we had back-to-back above-average Decembers was in 1950 and 1951.

And the only time in history that three or more above average Decembers occurred together was in the very first years that records were kept in the Dayton area, 1883-1887.

Considering weather history, along with the likelihood of a warm December, the odds are heavy against snow days this year - I would say close to 100 to 1.

On the other hand, total December precipitation has been below average since 2003; so even though the snow should be light, rain should be heavier than in the last three years, coming in at about three inches total.

If storms do occur, weather patterns suggest that they will happen in the following periods: December 1-3, 24-26, 31-January 1.

The January-February precipitation outlook will appear in next week’s Poor Will.

Poor Will’s Scrambler
In order to estimate your SCRAMBLER IQ, award yourself 15 points for each word unscrambled, adding a 50-point bonus for getting all of them correct. If you find a typo, add another 15 points to your IQ.


Here is this week’s rhyming Scrambler:

This farm news was published in the August 9, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.