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Views and opinions: Rainfall typically tapers off as July starts to turn to August

July 22-28, 2019

You hear the change in the birdcalls, fewer songs of ecstasy, more parental alarms and scoldings ... Harvest flies buzz and shrill in the heat of mid-afternoon.

-Hal Borland

The Finches in the Thistledown Moon wanes throughout the period, entering its final quarter on July 24 at 8:18 p.m. and becoming the new Black Walnut Leafdrop Moon on July 31 at 11:12 p.m. The moon’s influence on fish and people is expected to be strongest at the approach of the final cool front of July.

Weather trends

After July 25, a subtle change takes place in weather history statistics, and the chances for a high in the 80s or 90s falls slightly, from 90 percent down to 75. That shift is the first measurable temperature signal that summer has begun to unravel. On August 1, the percentage drops to 70 percent, then to 65 by August 5.

Sunshine remains the rule for this week of the month, with three out of four days bringing at least a partial break in the clouds. Rainfall typically tapers off as the month comes to a close, the chance for precipitation declining from 35 percent on July 24 to just 20 on July 30-31. The first two days of August, however, see the trend reversed.

The natural calendar

July 22: Geese become restless, and a few Judas maples and Virginia creepers redden as the sun enters the sign of Leo.

July 23: The sun enters the late-summer sign of Leo. Cicada song reaches its seasonal peak, pokeweed flowers become green berries, and elderberries turn purple.

July 24: Throughout the country, birds have begun flocking in anticipation of autumn, their fledglings still begging for food. On the East Coast, shorebirds start to move south, often stopping to rest on North Carolina’s outer banks. In the honeysuckles of the Ohio Valley, adult robins teach their young migration calls.

July 25: Around town, a few Judas maples redden. Shiny spicebush, boxwood, greenbriar, and poison ivy berries have formed.

July 26: Round galls swell on the goldenrod. Ragweed heads up for August as honewort and wood nettle and tall meadow rue go to seed. Many cottonwoods are weathering. Patches of yellow appear on the weaker ash trees. Black walnut leaves start to fall.

July 27: Soft violet resurrection lilies begin their season as most other garden lilies disappear. White snakeroot, Joe Pye weed, blue dayflowers, and tall coneflowers signal the approach of late summer.

July 28: The nights of July 28-29 bring the Delta Aquarids after midnight in Aquarius. This shower can bring up to 20 meteors in an hour. Average low temperatures drop 1 degree today for the first time since January, one of many statistical movements toward winter.

Late summer’s burdock and Jerusalem artichokes bloom now. Tall blue bellflowers, pale violet bouncing bets, gray coneflowers, and pink germander color the waysides. Water hemlock, Joe Pye weed, and arrowhead blossom in the swamps.

Field and garden

Farmers prepare for August seeding of alfalfa, smooth brome grass, orchard grass, tall fescue, red clover, and timothy.

Late July, when the day's length has lost an average of 30-45 minutes from its longest span, is the average time for ewes and does to show first signs of estrus cycling. The advance of the summer can also bring parasite infestations and foot rot to livestock. Fecal samples can give warning of a variety of diseases.

In the countdown to early fall, there is:

•One week until blackberries are ready for jam and brandy

•Two weeks until aster and goldenrod time

•Three weeks until the season of fall apples begins

•Four weeks until hickory-nutting time gets underway

Almanac classics

Curly the Bottle Lamb

Curly is my little brother’s sheep. Those two are two of a kind. Curly is the tamest sheep in the flock. She can be really obnoxious.

Curly was raised on a bottle. She thinks she is one-third horse, one-third dog, and one-third human. She pals around with the horse. Even now that she is a mother, she still tries to pal around with the horse.

My brother made the mistake of training her the way you train a dog. When my dad needed to go out to the field to check on the sheep, he told the dog to hop in, and Curly hopped right on in just like a dog.

Curly always had to go with my brother out to the field. One time, they had to jump across an irrigation canal to check the flock. Curly missed the jump and fell into the canal. My dad had to walk over and pull her out.

Then when it was time to go home, Curly didn’t want to stay out with the rest of the sheep. She wanted to come home. She did not believe she was sheep!