Poor Will’s Miami Valley Almanack

Second Week of Deep Summer, June 30-July 6

Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Heard today the first cicada, quite faint, as if its first attempt. Frogs every morning. Where are they? Not far. They are the voice of summer. - Harlan Hubbard

In the Sky

At 1:06 a.m. (EDT) on July 5, the Earth reaches aphelion, the point at which it is farthest from the Sun. Aphelion occurs almost exactly six months from perihelion, Earth’s position closest to the Sun.

Venus in Aries remains the bright Morning Star. Mars in Pisces rises in the morning dark just before Venus. Jupiter in Aries shines with Venus as the second-brightest Morning Star/Saturn in Aquarius rises in the middle of the night, is the earliest of the Morning Stars

The sky of aphelion reflects this parallel universe of circular time. At noon, the stars over the United States are the stars of perihelion midnight: Orion due south, the Pleiades overhead. On the clearest July afternoons, January’s Sirius is visible in the southeast. The Big Dipper lies in the northeast, Cepheus in the northwest. Leo is rising. Pegasus is setting. On the other hand, this week’s night sky is the day sky of Middle Winter. The teapot-like star formation of Libra lies in the south, followed by Scorpius and its red center, Antares. Sagittarius, the Archer, follows the Scorpion in the southeast. Above the Archer, the Milky Way sweeps up toward Cassiopeia in the north.

The nights of July 28-29 bring the Delta Aquarids after midnight in Aquarius. This shower can bring up to 20 meteors in an hour.

Phases of the Sycamore Bark Falling Moonn

July 5: The Sycamore Bark Falling Moon is new.

July 13: The moon enters its second quarter

July 21: The moon is full.

July 27: The moon enters its final quarter.

Peak Activity Times for Creatures

When the moon is above the continental United States, creatures are typically most active. The second-most-active time occurs when the moon is below the Earth. Activity is likely to increase at new moon and full moon and at perigee (when the Moon is closest to Earth), especially as the barometer falls in advance of cold fronts near those dates.


New moon on July 5 is likely to brin stormy weather and intensify the Corn Tassel Rains. Full moon on the 21st and lunar perigee on the 24th are likely to carry rain and cooler nights.

Weather Trends

The cool fronts of Deep Summer normally cross the Mississippi River around July 6, 14, 21 and 28. Tornadoes, hurricanes, floods or prolonged periods of soggy pasture are most likely to occur within the weather windows of July 3-7, and July 18-23. New Moon on July 5, and Full Moon on July 21 (with lunar perigee on the 24th) should increase the chance of tornadoes in the South and Midwest and the landing of a hurricane in the Gulf region near those dates.

The Allergy Index

Estimated Pollen Count (On a scale of 0-700 grains per cubic meter)

Most of the pollen in the air this month continues to come from grasses.

July 1: 20

July 10: 15

July 15: 17

July 20: 20

July 25: 25

July 30: 35

Estimated Mold Count (On a scale of 0-7,000 grains per cubic meter)

July 1: 2,400

July 10: 3,400

July 15: 3,900

July 20: 5,200

July 25: 5,400

July 30: 4,000

The Natural Calendar

Venus and Mars lie along the western horizon after sundown. Both planets may be very difficult to see due to their proximity to the Sun. Jupiter is the most reliable evening companion and can be found in the southern sky after dark. Below and a little east of Jupiter, Saturn rides Sagittarius in the center of the southern horizon at dusk.

The Dog Days of Deep Summer are named after Sirius, the Dog Star, which moves to the center of the sky at midday. Sometimes you can even see it shining through the sunlight.

Aphelion, the point at which Earth is farthest from the Sun, occurs today. Throughout the month, the Sun moves steadily from its solstice declination of 23 degrees 26 minutes to a declination of 18 and a half degrees. That distance is approximately a fourth of the way toward autumn equinox.

Lunar perigee today increase the power of the New Moon, brings higher tides, and more difficulty with pets, livestock and ornery family members.

The behavior of raccoons, opossums and groundhogs becomes erratic in the Dog Day heat, and road kills often increase.

Blueweed flowers are at the top of their stems. Lamb’s ear season closes as the first giant burdock blooms along roadsides. Blackberries are August size this week, but still green. Milkweed pods emerge; they will burst at the approach of Middle Fall.

July 7: Red seedpods hang from locust branches. Tufts of seeded meadow goatsbeard float across the fields.

In the Field and Garden

By this time of the summer, first cut alfalfa is often almost complete, and the second cut has started. Oats are heading up, and the summer apple harvest gets underway as the earliest sweet corn comes to farmers’ markets. Potato leafhoppers reach economic levels in some alfalfa.

Select varieties of vegetables for midsummer planting which are able to grow well even as the days shorten. For frost-sensitive vegetables like beans, try to use varieties that ripen quickly. Fall onions as well as late plantings of sweet corn and squash can be sown, too. Greenhouse tomatoes seeded today should be producing by October.

Consider marketing lambs and kids for Independence Day cookouts this week, especially if your county fair is over.

High heat and humidity may make it hard for animals and humans to sleep. Keep your livestock’s (and your family’s) bedding fresh and clean.

Countdown for Summer

· One week until sycamore bark starts to fall, marking the center of Deep Summer

· Two weeks to the season of singing crickets and katydids after dark

· Three weeks until ragweed pollen floats in the wind

· Four weeks until blackberries are ready for jam and brandy

· Five weeks until aster and goldenrod time

· Six weeks until the season of fall apples begins

· Seven weeks until the hickory nutting time gets underway


The way to find the real “world” is not merely to measure and observe what is outside us, but to discover our own inner ground. For that is where the world is, first of all: in my deepest self. It is a living and self-creating mystery of which I am myself a part, to which I am myself my own unique door. - Thomas Merton

I ruminate in this dark, unseasonably cool morning, tempted to build a fire in the wood stove. I haven’t even heard cicadas yet, and now near record cold temperatures. Yesterday afternoon, a high-pressure system arrived with wind that brought a shower of yellow locust leaves across the yard.

I can feel the seasonal changes going on inside of me, but I have no names for them. I watch the gray sky brighten slowly, my thoughts wander, and I page through the books on the table beside my chair. I open the I-Ching, an ancient Chinese book of divination, to the 12th hexagram called P’i. “This hexagram,” states the book, “is linked with the seventh month, when the year has passed its zenith and autumnal decay is setting in.” The obscure commentary explains that at this juncture in the year “the dark power is within, the light power is without. Weakness is within, harshness without.”

If, as Gretel Ehrlich says, space has a spiritual equivalent, then there is some connection between dark and light in the landscape, weakness and harshness. I look for the spiritual equivalent of this morning and the chill, think about Merton’s inner ground, the deepest self that somehow bypasses or encompasses the outer ground, the harshness without.

When it is light enough, I go out and count the day lily plants in bloom to see when they peak and when they decline. Four days ago: 34 plants. Today, only 28. I notice that the oakleaf hydrangea flowers have darkened from white to pale green, some of the petals even reddish.

The opposite of the P’i hexagram is T’ai, which is associated with spring, when strength grows within, and the outward softens. Here on July 19, I meditate at one side of opposites that lie at either end of the year, yin and yang in opposing balance, a metonymy of reciprocity, the cause as effect, the effect as cause, Merton’s idea of world inside and outside, each side standing for the other, healing divisions and relieving burdens. I, between heaven and earth, am the door to each, the Taoists might say.

Who knows about things like that!

And the real problem is that I’m cold. I give in, crumple newspapers saved from April, put in the last of the spring kindling, make an autumn fire.

Bill Felker lives with his wife in Yellow Springs. His “Poor Will’s Almanack” airs on his weekly NPR radio segment on WYSO-FM (91.3).

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