Full moon could bring frost

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

Between the end of summer and the shortest day of the year, I battle a constant feeling of disbelief. All things come to a halt rapidly; the garden is all brown stalks and the ground is tightening. What continues to grow and bloom does so in isolation. — Jamaica Kincaid

The Almanack Horoscope

Moon Time: The Corn Harvest Moon waxes all week becoming full at 1:40 p.m. on Oct. 5. Rising in the late afternoon and setting after midnight, this moon passes overhead in the evening.

Sun Time: The sun now advances quickly toward winter, moving half the way between equiox and solstice by the end of October.

Planet Time: Now Venus is in Virgo, retaining its position as the morning star, continuing to be shadowed by Mars (the two planets in conjunction on October 5). Jupiter blends with the sunset, disappearing from view by October 15. Saturn is still visible along the western horizon at dusk.

Star Time: Taurus, foretelling winter, has emerged from the east, preceded by the Pleiades. As the Summer Triangle moves into the west, it takes Hercules, Ophiuchus, Sagittarius and Capricorn with it. The Big Dipper hugs the northern horizon, its pointers pointing not only to Polaris, but also all the way across to the southern horizon and bright Fomalhaut.

Shooting Star Time: No major meteor activity is expected until early October.

Weather Time: The October 2 Front: The danger of frost becomes greater as October progresses, and the October 2 front often combines with another front a day or two later to redouble the risk to tender pasture and garden plants. Chances for a hard freeze following this front are about ten percent, and full moon on the 5th increases the likelihood of at least light frost in October's first week.

Zeitgebers: Events in Nature that Tell the Time of Year: Maple leaves begin to fall along the paths. Jumpseed is yellowing, and rose hips are darkening. Poison ivy is gold, and blackberries have purple leaves. Milkweed pods are straining, ready to open. Scattered yellow coneflowers hang on.

More crickets move indoors, mindful of the frost to come. Monarch butterflies (some of the last of surving monarchs) occasionally visit the late zinnias and butterfly bushes in the afternoon sun; other insects, however, become less common in the field and garden as the number of pollen-bearing flowers dwindles.

Field and Garden Time: Before the moon turns full on the 5th, harvest honey from your hives (leaving plenty for the bees). Also bring in pumpkins and winter squash before the weather gets much colder.

All around the region, leaves have turned yellow on most of the soybeans; they blend right in with the full-blooming goldenrod. In a typical year, two out of every three ears of silage corn have been cut, and one out of ten ears of grain corn.

Some years, fall apples and grapes are half picked; most of the corn and half of the soybeans are mature. The third cut of alfalfa is typically complete. A fourth of the winter wheat has often been planted by the last day of September, and a fourth of the soybean crop has been cut. The processing tomato harvest is over.

Marketing Time: Chuseok: the Harvest Moon Festival, observed by Korean Americans and others of Asian descent is October 4-5. Of course, Halloween occurs at the end of October, offering a multitude of marketing opportunities.

Mind and Body Time: Creature Time (for fishing, feeding, bird watching): The waxing moon will be overhead in the evening this week, telling fish, game, cattle and dieters to eat a little more at that time. As the September 24 and 28 weather systems approach, the moon will tell them that eating is even more important than usual.

Migration of toads and frogs continues to take place. Bird migrations increase. Most species of butterflies no longer visit your garden. Scout for squirrels in areas where black walnut trees are common. The leaves of the black walnut fall earlier than those of most trees, and squirrels are partial to the nuts. Box elder and buckeye trees sometimes lose their foliage early, as well.

If you are watching your cholesterol levels, some studies show that these levels rise in the winter and decline as the weather becomes warmer with the spring. Although many other things influence cholesterol, seasonal change may be a significant issue in complications such as strokes or heart attacks.

Journal

The days continue clear and warm and bright. Two weeks ago, much of the landscape was still deep, late-summer green. Now, a few maples and dogwoods are red and orange, cottonwoods and catalpas and sweet gums and shagbark hickories are yellow, and grape vines and nettles are bleached with age. Locust leaves drizzle steadily to the undergrowth. The serviceberries are almost bare. The black walnut trees keep only their last fruit. Purple poison ivy and Virginia creeper outline the changes.

Craneflies swarm, a fraction of their winter size. Dragonflies still hunt our backyard pond. The koi still feed with gusto, their water almost as warm as it was in August. A cardinal called out at 6:10 this morning, sang off an on for about an hour. Crows came and went. Robins started peeping their migration signals outside in the honeysuckles at 7:04. When I walked the alley after breakfast, I heard starlings whistling and chattering toward downtown. Sitting in greenhouse working at 8:15, I listened to the tapping of a yellow-bellied sapsucker on the siding of the house, an old friend returning from spring on the way back to Tennessee.

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