Sept. 24-30, 2018
Dusk comes earlier, dawn later. The night offers more of itself for us to experience with all our senses. It is a feast of scents and sounds and sights and feelings. Memories seem no more than skin deep in fall; they catch us up suddenly, unaware.
Our thoughts hurry to keep pace with the changes. The night is more available, more evocative. I wrap myself in a favorite jacket and stand dreaming in the crisp night air; I am content, and I know it.
Waning through its third quarter during September’s final week, the Jumping Jumpseed Moon enters its final phase at 4:45 a.m. on Oct. 2. On Oct. 5, this moon reaches perigee at 5:28 p.m. Rising in the evening and setting in the morning, it passes overhead after midnight.
The Sun's position is the same now as in early April, and the rate of the night's expansion increases from deep summer's 2 minutes per day to 3 minutes. In another week, the day's length will drop below 13 hours.
You may glimpse Venus in the far west just after sunset, followed by Jupiter, both planets close to the horizon.
Winter's Orion is fully emerged from the east by midnight. At that time, the Big Dipper is low along the north horizon. To the west, Hercules is setting behind the Corona Borealis. Pegasus and the Great Square are overhead in the Milky Way. Cygnus, the Northern Cross, follows summer's Vega south.
Sept. 30-Oct. 1 are the warmest days (historically speaking) at this time of the year, each bringing a 45 percent chance of highs in the 80s – but that is the last time this year that chances will rise so high. Most of the days this week will be in the 60s or 70s, with the latter predominating.
On Oct. 4, however, a 10 percent chance of highs only in the 40s occurs for the first time since May 25. Precipitation is lightest on Sept. 28 (just a 15 percent chance of showers on that date); the rest of the days this week, rain comes 30 percent of the time.
Light frost strikes 10-20 percent of all the nights, with Oct. 3 most likely to bring a damaging freeze in the 20s (a 5 percent chance).
The natural calendar: Throughout the week, there is acceleration in the coloring of the leaves. Goldenrod is in full bloom, and the soybean fields and milkweed are almost all turned. In the yellowing tree line, patches of deep red from sumac and Virginia creeper.
The rare August Judas maple becomes more common. There are patches of gold on the lindens and ginkgoes, tulip trees, white mulberries and Osage. Sometimes catalpas, black walnuts, some box elders have lost all their leaves.
Water willows become pale in the river shallows as early fall deepens. In the sloughs, arrowhead is brittle. The wildflowers on stump habitats have disappeared. All the thistles have gone to seed. Wingstem has blackened with age or frost. Brome is white, burdock brown.
The waning moon will provide some relief from the “full moon madness” that occurred in some people under the Sept. 24 moon. And if you ordinarily feel invigorated by cooler weather and the turning leaves, this week should improve your spirits considerably.
However, the approach of October often brings an end to the “autumn surge” of energy, and seasonal affective disorders start to increase in those who are especially affected by the passage of summer.
Field and garden
The harvest of pears, cabbage and cauliflower is ordinarily underway by the last week of early fall. Halloween crops have come to town, and 80 percent of the corn is normally mature. Just about all the dry onions have been dug, and fall apples are nearly half-picked.
Potatoes are 75 percent in the bag, and the grape harvest is in full swing. Soybeans are mature on half of the area’s farms. Twenty percent of that crop and 10 percent of the corn have been cut. A fourth of the winter wheat has usually been planted.
Perennials, shrubs and fruit trees may be fertilized throughout October to encourage growth and improved flowering next spring and summer. As the moon wanes, put in scillas, snowdrops, tulips, daffodils and crocuses for the March and April garden.
Marketing notes: Navaratri (or Navadurgara) is celebrated Oct. 9-18. This Hindu feast honors the goddess Durga. An uptick in demand for male lambs and kids may accompany the approach of this feast.
Fish, insects, livestock and birds: Japanese beetles can still be mating, but they are usually down to a fraction of their summer numbers. Chiggers have finally disappeared from the garden if the weather has been cold, but mosquitoes continue to breed.
Fish and game are likely to become more active with the moon overhead in the early morning this week, especially as the cold fronts of Sept. 29 and Oct. 2 approach.
Feed outlook for wild game
Standing corn will tempt wildlife in many areas through the end of October, but the percentage of feed available from cultivated crops declines at the rate of approximately 2 percent per day beginning at the end of September.
Acorns increase in importance for whitetail deer between the first week of October and the first week of November. White oak acorns are typically consumed first, then the deer move on to the red oak acorns – some of their favorite autumn treats.
Wildflowers and grasses usually stop flowering by the middle of September, and nourishing seeds will be forming during autumn throughout fields and woods. Among the most common wildflower food, the nutlets of the goldenrod attract deer, especially after acorns are gone.
Cranberries are popular as long as they last, and wetlands often provide other options for late-fall feeding. Roadside foraging becomes extremely lean in November and December; early-sprouting winter wheat, however, could bring your buck to those tender green shoots well into the cooler months. Staghorn sumac fruit clusters stand out after leaf fall, and can also be attractive to game.
I am the ninth of 10 children. I knew Mom was never sorry she had any of us after we arrived. I do think, however, that given the choice, very few women would have 10 children. Even our mother.
I hope my six brothers, three sisters and I make enough contributions to the world to compensate for all the sacrifices and hardships Mama and Papa made to raise us.
Mama said, “I stand tall and proud because I’m so blessed by my 10 children. They all look like movie stars and act like ladies and gentlemen. There’s not a bad apple in the bunch.”
My poor mama was not only blinded by glaucoma; she was also blinded by love!