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

Poor Will’s Clark County Almanack: Summer Solstice week

The garden is fragrant everywhere;

In its lily-bugles the gold bee sups,

And butterflies flutter on winglets fair

Round the tremulous meadow buttercups. — Munkittrick

The Almanack Horoscope

Moon Time: The Strawberry and Raspberry Moon wanes throughout the week, entering its final quarter at 6:33 a.m. on June 17. Rising after dark and setting after sunrise, this moon will brighten the post-midnight sky.

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Sun Time: The midpoint of the solar year, the day on which the Sun reaches as high in the sky as it will ever go, occurs on June 20 at 11:24 p.m., entering the middle summer sign of Cancer at the same time. Between June 19 and 23, the sun holds steady at its solstice declination of 23 degrees 26 minutes, and the day’s length remains virtually unchanged.

Planet Time: Jupiter, traveling deep into the western sky in the evening, disappears with Virgo after midnight. Moving forward into Ophiuchus, Saturn rises after sunset and moves across the sky throughout the night..

Star Time: Early risers see the sky the way it will look in late September: the Milky Way overhead, the Great Square covering most of the southeast, huge Cygnus the swan shifting west, following bright Vega. June’s Corona Borealis will be setting now, and the first sign of winter, Aldebaran of the constellation Taurus, will have just emerged in the northeast.

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Weather Time: The June 15 Front: Between the 15th and the 19th, average temperatures climb their final degrees throughout the nation, reaching their summer peak near solstice.

The June 23 Front: The June 23 high-pressure system is typically cool and dry, and it is often followed by some of the sunniest days of all the year. As the next June front approaches, the benign effects of the June 23 system can be expected to give way to storms.

Zeitgebers: Events in Nature that Tell the Time of Year: As early summer deepens, the days are the longest of the year, and mulberries and black raspberries are sweetest. Milkweed beetles look for milkweed flowers on the longest days; giant cecropia moths emerge. The first monarch butterfly caterpillars eat the carrot tops. This year’s ducklings and goslings are nearly full grown.

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Damselflies and daddy longlegs are everywhere in brambles along the rivers when mulberries and black raspberries come in. Mosquitoes, chiggers, and ticks have reached their summer strength in the deep woods. Long, black cricket hunters hunt crickets in the garden.

Two out of three parsnips, angelicas, and hemlocks are going to seed. Multiflora roses and Japanese honeysuckles are dropping petals. But wingstem and tall coneflower stalks are five feet high, and Virginia creeper is flowering. Canadian thistles and nodding thistles are at their best. Blackberries have set fruit. The very first trumpet vines sport bright red-orange trumpets, and the first yuccas, Deptford pink and first great mullein come into bloom.

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Field and Garden Time: As summer heat builds up, watch for screw worm and blow fly eggs in sores or dung locks on your livestock. Timely clipping, shearing and dipping can help keep your animals from these pests as well as from ticks, lice and scab mites.

Pick summer blueberries as they darken this month. (Very often berries are fattest at full and new moon.) But don’t forget the wild mulberry and black raspberry crops. In the lawn, chinch bugs hatch; be sure to water heavily to counteract their damage. In your trees, look for tent caterpillars.

Marketing Time: Father’s Day is June 18, and Halal sales of lamb and chevon peak now at the approach the feast of Id-al-Fitir, the feast of the breaking of the Ramadan fast on June 25.

Mind and Body Time: On the one hand, you body is telling you to take advantage of the good weather in order to put up supplies and get ready for the cold weather. What you really want to do, however, is to go fishing, swim, read a good book in the sun, or just sit on the porch and watch the garden. That is the hard part of summer: mixed messages. But if you are aware that your instincts naturally go both ways, you can pamper both. Work a little harder. Play or rest a little more, too. Try to keep it all in balance.

Creature Time (for fishing, hunting, feeding, bird watching): As the moon wanes through its third quarter, it will be overhead in the early hours of the morning. Get up as early as you can and stay on the water until the sun gets hot. Fishing should improve at the approach of the June 15 and June 23 cool fronts; look for fish to avoid your bait a day after the fronts come through. On the sunniest days, identify butterflies and bees. Count fireflies in the yard after dark.


At the entry to my favorite woods, I came on a colony of blooming wood nettle, almost as high as my waist, that spread out around me hundreds of yards in all directions.

Innocuous and lying close to the ground a few weeks ago, the nettle had taken over this habitat, making an idyllic but stinging barrier to the river on the right and the hills on the left.

Only a few pale moths, daddy longlegs, and a green-bodied damselfly navigated the surface of the new floral hegemon. Only the licorice seeds of April’s sweet Cicely, a few struggling honewort, and black snakeroot were visible in the mass of rough, toothed nettle leaves.

I could remember the layers of this past spring beneath them: wild ginger, blue cohosh, cut-leafed toothwort, violets, hepatica, large-flowered trillium, bloodroot, violet cress, and early meadow rue. But they were as inaccessible as the periodic cicadas that lay a little further down waiting for May.

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