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Views and opinions: Various fruits complete their sweetening in early August


August 5-11, 2019

The almanac of time hangs in the brain:

The seasons numbered, by the inward sun …

-Dylan Thomas

The Black Walnut Leafdrop Moon enters its second quarter at 12:31 p.m. on August 7. This moon encourages creatures to be hungrier and more active around suppertime, especially as the cool front of August 10 approaches. This lunar phase favors the planting of autumn greens.

And as full moon approaches, watch does and ewes closely for the start of estrus.

Weather trends

This week’s highs: 50 percent of the afternoons are in the 80s, 25 percent are in the 90s, and another 25 percent will be in the 70s. Rainfall is typically light, with August 9, 12, 13 and 14 carrying just a 10-15 percent chance of a shower. With the arrival of the August 10 cold front, however, it and the following day have a 40 percent chance of precipitation, as well as the slight possibility of a high only in the 60s for the first time since July 13.

August 10-14 are likely to bring evening lows below 60 degrees. And within the next seven days, lows reach into the forties 15 times more often than they do during the first week of August. Full moon on August 15 makes 40s much more likely around that date.

The natural calendar

August 5: Along the freeways, beds of white boneset have come into bloom beside drifts of blue chicory and silver Queen Anne's lace.

August 6: The Black Walnut Leafdrop Moon alerts the monarchs and swallowtails and the fall webworms to prepare for autumn. Sparrows form larger flocks. Robins emerge from their deep-summer retreats.

Peaches, plums, grapes, blackberries, second-crop raspberries, and elderberries sweeten, then complete their seasons. Yellow jackets come to feed on the fallen fruit.

August 7: Average temperatures start to drop between 1-2 degrees per week until Sept. 10, when they decline about a degree every three days into January. Although declines are more rapid in the North, almost every region of the country experiences a temperature shift this month.

August 8: In perennial gardens, the last red, white, and violet phlox, golden and purple coneflowers, bright helianthus, and pale resurrection lilies define late summer.

August 9: Crickets, cicadas, and katydids become more insistent in the heat. Grackle activity increases while cardinal song becomes fainter. The early morning robins are silent. Long flocks of blackbirds and grackles pursue the harvest. Murmurations (flocks) of starlings often swoop and dive across the sky.

August 10: It is the time that catalpas start to wear thin, and showers of black walnut leaves foretell autumn. Saplings are browning under the high canopy. Patches of scarlet have appeared in the sumac and poison ivy. Ash and cottonwood can be yellowing.

August 11: This time of year brings the peak of weight-loss season; your chances of losing pounds are the best of the whole year between now and September. Perhaps related to visions of weight loss, some studies have shown most miraculous appearances occur between late June and early fall – just the time that people are shedding the most weight.

Field and garden

Heat and moisture stress may contribute to much lower production of cool-weather forage. Rotation of pastures or allowing the grazing of hayfields can help.

The harvest of winter wheat and oats is typically complete throughout the nation. In the northern states, the spring wheat is coming in, and the great cabbage and cauliflower harvests have usually begun.

As breeding time approaches for goats and sheep, remember that aromatic plants such as thyme, mint, and clover are said to be conducive to fertility in mammals.

The pulse of the Earth

Major high-pressure systems cross the United States an average of once every 5-6 days, and 60-65 systems pass through the Ohio Valley in a year. Fronts move more quickly in the colder months; October-March can bring up to eight waves of high pressure every 30 days.

The warmer months between April-September are more likely to have six or fewer fronts; June, July, and August sometimes only produce 2-3 significant systems.

This regular pulse that characterizes the planet's atmosphere was first recorded in detail by 16th century almanackers. It still forms the basis for annual predictions in today's commercial almanacs, and can be used by anyone who keeps a weather journal to gauge the likelihood for rain or sun, heat or cold on any given day.

Within the rhythm of the Earth's breath across the countryside, there are seasonal shifts that occur at certain predictable intervals. The fifth front of the year, for example, is often followed by pleasant weather, the January thaw.

The last high-pressure bank of January is also relatively mild, bringing a warm-up near Groundhog Day. Early spring, when pussy willows start pushing out and snowdrops bloom, arrives after the 11th cold front of the year near Feb. 15.

Every season turns on a specific weather milestone, which develops at a specific time and is predictable within a couple of days. Changes in plants, animals, and even people keep pace with those events and can be measured by them. The weather year unfolds, then, as a dynamic metronome, a resource of cadence and balance.