Find Orion before dawn

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

I walk about, taking stock of the innumerable changes on the hillside. The clump of golden asters is now dry and brown, the milkweeds, stripped of their leaves, are straight spikes thrusting up from the ground and holding the browning seed pods. Seeds are everywhere. I fend them between my fingers when I run my hands through the grass tops. Autumn is a time of accounting, summing up, harvest and inventory. — Edwin Way Teale

The Almanack Horoscope

Moon Time: The Apple Cider Moon waxes throughout the period, entering its second quarter at 5:23 p.m. on October 27. Rising in the middle of the day and setting in the night, this moon passes overhead in the evening.

Sun Time: Sunset is now only about 20 minutes from its mid-winter time.

Planet Time: Jupiter has returned to the morning sky, joining Venus in the east. Keep watching those huge planets move closer together before dawn. They will reach conjunction on November 13, after which Venus disappears from view

Star Time: Before sunrise, Orion fills the east, Sirius, the Dog Star, lying due south. Castor and Pollux, following along behind. The Milky Way forms a band from the southeast up into the northwest. Far in the northeast, the Big Dipper will be pointing to Polaris, the North Star.

Explore POOR WILL’S ALMANACK: Watch the Orionid meteors

Weather Time: The October 30 Front: After this weather system comes across the country, milder but rainier weather typically follows for the first few days of November. The moon's weak position at the end of this October augurs well for mild temperatures (but rain) for Halloween activities.

The November 2 Front: The first front of November is ordinarily one of the gentler systems of the month, but this year's full moon on the 4th is likely to put a quick end to nice weather. Lunar perigee on the 6th doubles the chances for cold and even snow.

Zeitgebers: Events in Nature that Tell the Time of Year: In this third week of middle fall, the oaks and the osage, white mulberries, magnolias, ginkgoes and the late black and sugar maples move towards full color and many woodlots shine in the morning, red, gold and green.

Spruces are growing new needles in the parks. Hepatica sends out new leaves on the hillsides. Fresh chickweed, which sprouted at the end of the summer, is blossoming. Catnip grows back beside thistle, moneywort, wild geranium, leafcup, henbit, and yarrow, impervious to the falling leaves.

In the woods, quickweed still provides a deep green border to the paths. A few lance-leaf and zigzag goldenrod still hold. A few asters, chicory and Queen Anne’s lace plants still flower by the waysides. And in the swamps, skunk cabbage can be two inches high, waiting for February.

Farm and Garden Time: Wrap new trees with burlap to help them ward off winter winds. Complete fall field and garden tillage before November's chill and rains (and snow). Finish yard and garden cleanup before the colder days of late autumn.

Explore POOR WILL’S ALMANACK: Peak leaf color begins

Marketing Time: Contact markets for your turkeys and your left-over pumpkins as Thanksgiving approaches . Plan to sell goat and sheep cheese, Christmas cacti, dried flowers, gourds, grasses, poinsettias, mistletoe and ginseng during the holidays

Mind and Body Time: The increasing odds for cloudy, chilly weather and the rapidly shortening day keep the threat of seasonal affective disorder relatively high. On the other hand, the moon's weak position this week should provide some relief.

Consider finding time to cook and bake as the evenings grow longer. That activity, combined with good food and the aromas of home may help to ward off late autumn blues.

POOR WILL’S ALMANACK: Full moon could bring frost

Creature Time (for fishing, hunting, feeding, bird watching): Starlings cackle and whistle in the bright trees. The last white cabbage butterflies look for cabbages in the garden. The last daddy longlegs hunt the flowerbeds. At night, crickets fill in for the silent katydids. Deer become more reckless as mating season deepens. The high canopy thins, and squirrels become easier to find.

The waxing moon will be overhead in the afternoon and evening this week, and if you hunt and fish after lunch as the barometer drops prior to the October 30 and November 2 cold fronts, your chances for finding fish and game should increase.

Explore POOR WILL’S ALMANACK: First chance for snow flurries

Journal

As October comes to a close, the pointers of the Big Dipper are aligned almost exactly north south in the evening, and the foliage of middle autumn collapses throughout Clark County.

Along the roadsides, the season withers quickly. Last year’s cattail remnants rise above the dying grasses, are ghostly and puffy, heads swollen and broken. Teasel is black and stark. The soybean fields are shorn to a gray-beige stubble. The last of the standing corn is ragged and pale.

Even as more bare maple branches appear, the remaining leaves stand out more clearly. Oaks and sweet gum now become russet and gold, the last ashes maroon. Tarnished grape leaves hold to fences, some scarlet poison ivy and Virginia creeper still shine in the fencerows. Spicebushes blush, barberry bushes turn purple.

Often when sugar maples fall, pale brown Asian ladybeetles swarm near your house, looking for a place to spend the winter. When you see those ladybugs, then herring gulls are migrating south across the countryside, and the berries of the euonymus vine are white. Hosta seedpods crack, revealing their black contents. The last raspberries of the year redden in the low sun. Witchhazel blooms, the last in the cycle of blooming shrubs.


Poor Will’s Almanack for 2018 is now available. Order yours from Amazon, or, for an autographed copy, order from www.poorwillsalmanack.com.

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