There is the simplified, clarified outdoor world, on a bright November day. The leafless trees are stripped to fundamentals. The horizon is in plain sight and far away. Valleys are broader, their outlines obvious. Hills are somehow higher. It is a bigger world, a world that invites wandering and exploration.
— Hal Borland
Lunar Phase And Lore
The Deer Mating Moon waxes through most of the period, becoming completely full on Nov. 17 at 10:16 a.m. This week’s full moon will lie overhead in the middle of the night, contributing to the chances of success for finding raccoons, skunks and ‘possums after dark. If you are waiting for deer in your stand during the day, you may find that activity picks up as the moon passes below the United States about noon. Squirrels and groundhogs could also be most active then, and fish could be reaching the warmer shallows if the sun is shining.
Both nighttime and daytime fishing and hunting (and feeding children) can be expected to improve as a cold front approaches with the full moon. Look for the barometer to be dropping prior to the Nov. 16 and Nov. 20 fronts. An seasonal affective disorders are likely to rise over the upcoming weekend, thanks to full moon and an increase in cloud cover several days before.
The third week of November usually is the second week of late fall, and the likelihood of cold intensifies. Chances for weather in the 60s are still 50/50, but a warm high in the 70s only happens once in a decade this time of year, and days in the 30s and 40s are becoming common.
The 15th is the day most likely to bring precipitation, having a 70 percent chance for rain or snow. The 17th and the 20th are also fairly damp, the former carrying a 40 percent chance for precip, the latter a 55 percent chance. The 18th and the 21st are the driest, with only a 20 percent chance for showers or flurries.
The Shooting Stars
The Leonids are the shooting stars of November. Watch for them in the east on after midnight on the 17th and 18th.
Daybook For The Second Week of Late Fall
November 10: Yellow jackets sometimes come out to look for fallen fruit. Forsythia bushes sometimes bloom a second time. In a few gardens, roses, scabiosa, stella d’oro lilies and clematis still blossom.
November 11: Chances for a thunderstorm virtually disappear until February in Clark County, but all-day rains increase.
November 12: When euonymus berries split and reveal their orange seeds, then beech leaves fall and winter wheat is often two to four inches tall in the fields.
November 13: Plant late bulbs, garlic, shrubs, and trees after full moon (the 17th). Water paperwhites, daffodils, tulips, crocus, and amaryllis in pots for solstice bloom.
November 14: Remove tops from your everbearing raspberries. Also think about planting an evergreen in the yard; now that the leaves have fallen, you will be able to position it for best winter appearance.
November 15: Ship all of your poinsettia crop for the retail market. Or simply buy an early plant for an extended holiday blooming season.
November 16: Although many of the Osage orange, maples, oaks, beech, pears and sweet gum continue to hold on, the last ginkgoes lose their leaves, and magnolias weaken. The final white mulberry foliage comes down. Scarlet rose hips and the buds of pussy willows stand out. Mock orange, honeysuckles and forsythias are thinning; their leaf-fall measures the progress of the last phase of autumn.
Forecasting the Winter Ahead
I used to know a local woodsman by the name of Vern Hogans, a hunter and fisherman. One July, we were talking about the weather, and I was wondering what the winter ahead would bring.
He told me right away he’d noticed that the groundhog’s fur was getting rich and heavy. “Oh, it’s going to be a cold winter!” he predicted.
A few weeks later, he took me out to a woodlot north of town. “I’ll show you the bark on the trees,” he said. “They’ll tell ‘ya somethin’ too.”
He brought me to a hickory tree. “Now you see how tight that bark is?” he asked, and he put his hand to the trunk and stroked it. “See, it’s air tight. You can’t pull off one piece.”
He told me how the trees “loosen up” and shed in the spring, “just like a snake sheds his skin. If winter’s gonna be cold, they drop the old bark early. And if the winter’s gonna be warm, the bark comes loose late, and it stays loose. But you can see how this bark here is.”
We went by elms and oaks. Hogans touched them all. He stopped and checked a green ash. “Boy, he’s tight, ain’t he!
“And this one’s a cottonwood. You see now, he’s well sealed. And thick. The trees, they put on deep coats for winter just like animals.”
Indeed, the winter that followed our conversation was a bitter one.
Unfortunately, Vern has been gone now for quite a while, and I’m still trying to get the hang of the tree bark thing. On the other hand, my correspondent, Carolyn, has reported seeing a plethora of woolly bear caterpillars in every color. “Grab the shovel and fill the woodpile!” she cautions.
Listen to Poor Will’s radio almanack on podcast any time at www.wyso.org.
Copyright 2013, W. L. Felker