Poor Will’s Almanack
By Bill Felker
Dusk comes earlier, dawn later. The night offers more of itself for us to experience with all our senses. It is a feast of scents and sounds and sights and feelings. Memories seem no more than skin deep in fall; they catch us up suddenly, unaware. Our thoughts hurry to keep pace with the changes. The night is more available, more evocative. I wrap myself in a favorite jacket and stand dreaming in the crisp night air; I am content, and I know it. – Cathy Johnson
The Moon: The Apple Cider Moon reaches perigee, its position closest to Earth, on Sept. 28 and becomes full at 5:58 a.m. on the 29th. Rising in the evening and setting in the morning, this moon crosses overhead in the middle of the night. It wanes through the first week of October, entering its final quarter on the 6th.
The Sun: The sun’s position is the same now as in early April.
The Planets: Venus rises in the east behind Orion in the morning darkness.
The Stars: When winter’s Orion is fully emerged from the east, the Big Dipper is low along the north horizon. To the west, Hercules is setting behind the Corona Borealis. Pegasus and the Great Square are overhead in the Milky Way. Cygnus, the Northern Cross, follows summer’s Vega south.
Weather Trends: Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 are the warmest days (historically speaking) at this time of the year, each bringing a 45 percent chance of highs in the 80s – but that is the last time this year that chances will rise so high. Most of the days this week will be in the 60s or 70s, with the latter predominating. On Oct. 4, however, a 10 percent chance of highs only in the 40s occurs for the first time since May 25. Precipitation is lightest on the 28th (just a 20 percent chance of showers on that date); the rest of the days this week, rain comes 30 percent of the time. Light frost strikes 10 to 20 percent of all the nights, with Oct. 3 most likely to bring a damaging freeze in the 20s (a 5 percent chance of that).
The Natural Calendar: Throughout the week, there is an acceleration in the coloring of the leaves. Goldenrod is in full bloom, and the soybean fields and milkweed are almost all turned. The rare August Judas maple becomes more common. There are patches of gold on the lindens and ginkgoes, tulip trees, white mulberries and Osage. Sometimes catalpas, black walnuts, some box elders have lost all their leaves.
Water willows become pale in the river shallows as Early Fall deepens. In the sloughs, arrowhead is brittle. The wildflowers on stump habitats have disappeared. All the thistles have gone to seed. Wingstem has blackened with age or frost. Brome is white, burdock brown. Japanese beetles can still be mating, but they are usually down to a fraction of their summer numbers. Chiggers have finally disappeared from the garden if the weather has been cold, but mosquitoes continue to breed.
In the Field and Garden: The harvest of pears, cabbage and cauliflower is ordinarily underway by the last week of Early Fall. Halloween crops have come to town, and 80 percent of the corn is normally mature. Just about all the dry onions have been dug, and fall apples are nearly half picked. Potatoes are 75 percent in the bag, and the grape harvest is in full swing. Soybeans are mature on half of the area’s farms. Twenty percent of that crop and 10 percent of the corn has been cut. A fourth of the winter wheat has usually been planted.
Perennials, shrubs and fruit trees may be fertilized throughout October to encourage growth and improved flowering next spring and summer. As the moon wanes, put in scillas, snowdrops, tulips, daffodils, and crocuses for the March and April garden.
Mind and Body: Insect activity connects us to autumn as well as to the summer. The shrill calls of crickets and katydids, which reached their peak in August and September, now bring us to frost time and peak leafturn time. The slowness of their pace as the nights grow colder reflects the weakening of the sun’s power. On the other hand, the increased activity of bees at this time of year mirrors our own interests in getting ready for cold weather. Even if you don’t like “bugs” or pay attention to them, your body probably understands the messages they are sending.
The feed outlook for wild game:
Standing corn will tempt wildlife in many areas through the end of October, but the percentage of feed available from cultivated crops declines at the rate of approximately 2 percent per day beginning at the end of September.
Acorns increase in importance for whitetail deer between the first week of October and the first week of November. White oak acorns are typically consumed first, then the deer move on to the red oak acorns – some of their favorite autumn treats.
Wildflowers and grasses usually stop flowering by the middle of September, and nourishing seeds will be forming during autumn throughout fields and woods. Among the most common wildflower food, the nutlets of the goldenrod attract deer, especially after acorns are gone. Cranberries are popular as long as they last, and wetlands often provide other options for late fall feeding. Roadside foraging becomes extremely lean in November and December; early sprouting winter wheat, however, could bring deer to those tender green shoots well into the cooler months. Staghorn sumac fruit clusters stand out after leaf fall and can also be very attractive to game.
By Ibbie Ledford, Willard, Ohio
I am the ninth of 10 children. I knew Mom was never sorry she had any of us after we arrived. I do think, however, that given the choice, very few women would have 10 children. Even our mother! I hope my six brothers, three sisters and I make enough contributions to the world to compensate for all the sacrifices and hardships Mama and Papa made to raise us.
Mama said, “I stand tall and proud because I’m so blessed by my 10 children. They all look like movie stars and act like ladies and gentlemen. There’s not a bad apple in the bunch.”
My poor mama was not only blinded by glaucoma; she was also blinded by love!
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Copyright 2023 – W. L. Felker