July 16-22, 2018
Through the clear streams the fishes rise,
And nimbly catch the incautious flies.
The glow-worms, numerous and light,
Illumed the dewy dell last night;
At dusk the squalid toad was seen,
Hopping and crawling o’er the green.
-“Signs of Rain,” Dr. Edward Jenner
The Black-Eyed Susan Moon waxes into its second phase at 2:52 p.m. on July 18. Rising near midday and setting at night, this moon passes overhead late in the evening.
The sun completes its residence in Cancer this week and enters the late-summer sign of Leo on July 23, having moved about an eighth of the way toward autumn equinox.
Traveling across the southern horizon in Capricorn, Mars disappears from the morning sky by the end of July. The sun’s position in Leo moves the middle summer noonday stars into the west, and the Dog Star, Sirius, becomes less aggressive, foretaste of cooler weather ahead.
The closing days of the sun in Cancer always bring a visible change to the landscape, and that can be reflected in human attitudes and behavior. The day’s length has only shortened by half an hour since solstice, but the growing night influences hormone levels in many mammals (including humans).
When the day falls below 14 hours in the first week of August, sheep and goats enter estrus, a sign that the position of the sun in the sky has triggered a major shift in the direction of the tide of the year.
The coolest days of this month are typically July 22-23, when mild 70s are recorded about a fourth of all the years. July 23 brings pleasant sleeping weather more often than any time in July – a full 35 percent of the nights drop below 60 degrees.
The most consistent day of the period, and of the whole month, is July 24, when highs in the 80s come 95 percent of the time. Rain is a bit more likely this week than it was last week, as chances for showers rise over the next seven days from between 20-30 percent to between 35-40 percent.
Field and garden
Include the mums in your summer care; give them a little extra food now for extra blossoms in September. Dig potatoes and dry onions, cut cabbage for kraut, pickle the cucumbers, gather sweet corn, top tobacco and bring in oats, wheat, alfalfa and all the summer market crops.
Plan your fall and winter plantings now; make a garden map of current bulbs, then list additions you would like to make in October. Autumn turnip planting and tobacco topping are often begun today, guided by the first purple blossoms of tall ironweed.
Out in the countryside, farmers prepare soil for autumn wheat planting. The melon harvest is at its zenith. The harvest of peaches usually begins this week; the fruit should become fat and juicy as the moon swells.
Marketing notes: Plan to increase produce to farmers’ markets and to your roadside stand as traffic increases for Labor Day (Sept. 3).
The natural calendar: With the sun descending toward autumn equinox in Leo, elderberries turn purple and black walnut leaves yellow in the heat. Pokeweed flowers turn to berries. Seed pods form on the trumpet creepers and the locusts. Catalpa beans are full and long.
Fogfruit, great Indian plantain, wingstem, sundrops, small-flowered agrimony, tick trefoil and velvetleaf all flower now as full moon approaches. A slight turning of the leaves begins on some of the redbuds, Virginia creepers, box elders and buckeyes.
Foliage of Japanese honeysuckle and the multiflora roses often shows patches of yellow.
Fish, insects, livestock and birds: The best of the early-morning bird chorus is over now for the year. Swallows are migrating; they can often be seen congregating on the high wires. Cicadas chant full force. Fireflies are often past their prime, fawns are a third grown and blue jays are suddenly quiet.
The first katydids begin singing after dark, and crickets intensify their song. Woolly bear caterpillars become more common. Fish become more active with the moon overhead in the evening, especially as the barometer falls in advance of the cool fronts due around July 21 and 28.
The Man in the Cellar
(This is a classic first published in 2008.)
I moved to New Haven in 1973. Not once did I think my house would be haunted. But one night around about 10 p.m., all that changed. I had just got into bed. My son and two cousins were up in the kitchen.
They yelled out that a man was in my cellar and had come up the stairs. I jumped up, and there I saw him going out the door. I ran after him, but he disappeared right in front of my eyes.
I never thought he would come back again. But he did. I was looking out my bedroom window one night, and there he was, dressed like back in the 1930s, looking like a doctor. I tried to scream, but I couldn't.
Finally I got sort of used to him, and I decided to name him George. And, well, he still walks up and down my stairway. Right to this very day everyone that comes to my house knows that George lives here.
So one day my uncle and his son and wife came up from Kentucky. They were going to spend the night. Well, you know George just had to walk. The relatives got so scared that they left in the middle of the night.
Right to this very day no one wants to spend the night all night at my house.
Another time, our daughter and our son-in-law were sleeping upstairs. Well, around about two in the morning, down came the mattress. They both were scared so bad, you should have seen their faces, all white.
I could tell many more stories about George, but I'd better stop – for now.