Peak leaf color begins

Yellow Springs resident Bill Felker has offered his take on the world of nature for years through radio spots and the written word. THOMAS GNAU/STAFF

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Yellow Springs resident Bill Felker has offered his take on the world of nature for years through radio spots and the written word. THOMAS GNAU/STAFF

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. — Cathy Johnson

The Almanack Horoscope

Moon Time: The Corn Harvest Moon wanest through its final quarter until it becomes the Apple Cider Moon on October 19 at 2:12 p.m. Rising in the middle of the night and setting close to noon, this moon passes above you in the morning.

Sun Time: By the end of October's second week, the sun has reached the same declension it holds at the end of February.

Planet Time: Jupiter fades into the sunset by October 15, but it reappears in the morning sky toward the end of the month.

Star Time: Along the northern horizon, the Big Dipper hugs the top of the trees. In the east, winter's Pleiades are coming up ahead of Taurus and the first stars of Orion.

Shooting Star Time: As Orion emerges through the night, it brings the Orionid meteors every night in October. The best viewing of these shooting stars should occur during this week while the moon is dark.

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Weather Time: The October 17 Front: After the passage of this front, the average amount of cloud cover increases markedly over that of last week, clouds being twice as likely to occur than in the first half of the month. Clouds mean slower drying time for hay and wool, not to mention an increase in seasonal stress. New moon on the 19th is expected to add cold to the clouds

Zeitgebers: Events in Nature that Tell the Time of Year::

This week, middle autumn comes to Clark County. The redbuds and hickories, many still bright gold and red, shed quickly, and the land enters the threshold of full maple-turn. The early trees are almost gone. Black walnut leaves and serviceberries are down. Catalpas are bare, beans left swinging in the wind.

Cabbage butterflies become more reckless now in their search for nectar. Aphids disappear in the chilly nights. Cicadas die. Japanese beetles complete their season. Daddy longlegs no longer hunt the undergrowth. Damselflies are rare along the rivers now, and darners have left their suburban ponds.

Farm and Garden Time: After the leaves come down from each of your trees, provide fertilizer that will gradually feed their roots through the late fall and winter.

Late autumn pasture can be deceptive; your animals may have plenty to eat, depending on the weather, but grazing may give them less nutrition and energy than in the summer months.

Marketing Time: If you breed sheep or goats, plan for the Easter Market: Mardi Gras takes place on February 13 next year, and Roman Easter is April 1, Orthodox Easter, April 8.

Mind and Body Time: The brilliance of autumn leaf color can counter depression and promote an optimistic view on life. October's foliage color peak has been shown to temporarily change for the better the brain chemistry of people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder.

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Creature Time (for fishing, hunting, feeding, bird watching): The approach of the October 17 cold front will push down the barometer and encourage fish and game to feed in the days prior to its arrival. Since the moon will be overhead in the morning hours, do most of your fishing and hunting before lunch.

The steady advance of high-pressure systems across the area accelerates the movement of green herons, sandhill cranes, sandpipers, terns, nighthawks, chimney swifts, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, phoebes, mockingbirds, catbirds, brown thrashers, wood thrushes and vireos,. Great flocks of blackbirds and robins migrate down the rivers. Yellow-bellied sapsuckers move through the woods. Insect numbers decline, and spider webs gradually disappear from the woods


I traveled down to the Ohio River and stayed at a retreat center not far from Cincinnati. I slept in a room on the third floor of a nineteenth-century convent, my windows, almost eight feet tall, faced southeast toward the river, and I opened them out onto oaks and pines and the sounds of the distant highway and the railroad that followed the water.

The land, like the calendar, lay at the edge of middle autumn: scattered cottonwoods, locusts rich gold and yellow, streaks of orange and red in the maples. Leaf fall was beginning, mostly from sycamores, buckeyes and hickories: withered leaves tangled in green honeysuckles, some coming down onto acorns and hickory nuts.

Around the buildings, long drifts of decaying white snakeroot stood between the lawn and the woods. Down the hiking path, I found waves of late-season wildflowers, sometimes hundreds of yards of the same variety: communities of tall, yellow touch-me-nots, many of them still in bloom up and down an entire hillside, lowlands full of wood nettle going to seed, rows and rows of smartweed along dry streambeds, clusters of dark ferns across an eroded bank. As I came back, I wondered at the graveyard of nuns, perennial stand of gray crosses clustered tight, shoulder to shoulder like the wildflowers, waiting, for the mysteries to be revealed.

Late in the moonless evening, the societies of katydids and crickets repeated the chants of the retreatants. In the middle of the night, the great trains howled west along the valley toward Cincinnati, and in the morning Venus was shining through the branches.

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