Poor Will’s Miami Valley Almanack

First Week of Deep Summer, June 24-30

Credit: Getty Images

Credit: Getty Images

The summer winds is sniffin’ round the bloomin’ locus’ trees;

And the clover in the pasture is a big day fer the bees,

And they been a-swiggin’ honey, above board and on the sly,

Tel they stutter in theyr buzzin’ and stagger as they fly.

- James Whitcomb Riley

In the Sky

The Corona Borealis and red Arcturus are overhead by 10 p.m. To the west, Cygnus, the Northern Cross, is poised to take their place in late summer. Scorpius moves deep in the southern sky after dark. It’s great red star, Antares, is the brightest light close to the horizon. Hercules spreads his arms directly above you. Deep in the southeast, autumn’s Pegasus is rising.

Phases of the Fledgling Moon

June 6: The Fledgling Moon is new.

June 14: The moon enters its second quarter.

June 21: The moon is full.

June 28: The moon enters its final quarter.

Weather Trends

The final weather system of June is often followed by the Corn Tassel Rains, a two-week period of intermittent precipitation that accompanies the Dog Days of Deep Summer. The final two days of June are sometimes the coldest of the month’s final weeks, highs below 80 degrees occurring more than half the time.

Expect the Corn Tassel Rains to increase as the new moon and lunar perigee cluster during the first four days of the month and stir up turbulence in advance of the July 6 cool front.

The Natural Calendar

Katydids are reaching full size and should be calling soon. The first woolly bear caterpillars, harbingers of winter, cross the road. Some baby snapping turtles and mud turtles are hatching.

Cattails are almost fully developed. May apples should be ready to harvest in the woods. Blackberries have always set fruit, even in the coldest years. Black walnuts are at least half their full size.

Deep Summer typically begins this week and lasts through Aug. 10. In those 45 days, approximately an hour is lost from the day’s length along the 40th Parallel, and the year turns toward autumn. Even though night lengthens in this middle season, the amount of possible sunshine reaches its zenith, and the percentage of totally sunny days is the highest of the year.

Thimble plants set thimbles. Thistledown lies across the pastures in the windless afternoons. Autumn’s bird migrations begin as the rough-winged swallow flies south.

Coneflowers, white vervain, oxeye, horseweed, germander, teasel and wild lettuce blossom in the fields; tall bell flowers open in the woods.

June’s berries are disappearing. Black raspberries decline quickly in warmer years. The best mulberries have fallen. July’s wild cherries are ripening, and elderberries are setting fruit.

Maroon seedpods have formed on the locusts. Some green-hulled walnuts are already on the ground. The earliest cicadas start to chant. This year’s ducklings and goslings are nearly full grown. Trumpet vine flowers fall in the midsummer rains.

In the Field and Garden

Dig garlic before the heads break apart. Gardeners often plant their autumn turnips after they process their garlic.

Summer blueberries are being picked along the Great Lakes, and cornfields start tasseling in the nation’s midsection. Cottony maple scale eggs hatch on the silver maples almost everywhere.

The upcoming Dog Days can make your goats chew excessively on wood, or even lick dirt. Both of those activities could signal hot weather salt deprivation. Increase the availability of loose salt to your animals as the heat increases.

The summer apple harvest, wheat harvest and the summer potato harvest are all underway throughout the country. The canola harvest starts near this date in the Lower Midwest. Cabbage gathering ends in most of Great Lakes area. Summer blueberries are being picked. Earliest cornfields start tasseling. Cottony maple scale eggs hatch on the silver maples.

Countdown to Late Summer

· One week until thistles turn to down

· Two weeks until sycamore bark starts to fall, marking the center of Deep Summer

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

· Four weeks until ragweed pollen floats in the wind

· Five weeks until blackberries are ready for jam and brandy

· Six weeks until aster and goldenrod time

· Seven weeks until the season of fall apples begins

· Eight weeks until the corn harvest gets underway


From the middle of May until early July, the days are the longest of the year.

And in the abundance and the lushness of these days we may wonder if life is not actually measured in quantity, measured like the longest days.

The absence of leaves and flowers and grass and warmth in winter is beautiful only in the context of its covenant with rebirth. An appreciation of snow and empty branches rises primarily from an aesthetic that values cold and dissolution only if their opposites are certain. And we find consolation in natural history like we find consolation in our own history, in recollection of our finest, longest days.

Summer is measured in the experience of bounty; memory and longing are always second best. And so we measure these endless days of the sun not so much with technological astronomy as with abundance: with catalpa and water willow blossoms, with dark sweet black raspberries, with buds on the milkweed, with the setting fruit of the oaks, Osage orange, hickory and black walnut trees, with bright day lilies and butterfly weed and hollyhocks and sweet clover and hostas and wild petunias, with the ripening of winter wheat, with the maturity of this year’s ducklings and goslings, with damselflies mating in the waterways: all signs and sacraments of our own personal summer.

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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