A Few Lessons from the Daybook of July 2015
Context: Events in the Daybook for the Year in Yellow Springs create a timepiece and kinematoscope from within a very narrow window on the world. (Clearly there are countless other events that took place in Yellow Springs not observed or recorded!) All of these events are corroborated by entries from thirty other Julys in the larger Daybook.
These events are a few visible atoms of the vast metronome of the planet. All of them together trace an enhanced image of a tidal-like trajectory that, along with the notes of previous years, reveals fractal patterns of flora and fauna phenomena which blend with and are not unlike the fractal patterns of weather. As in all fractal patterns, any individual fluctuation or manifestation in the pattern may be representative of the whole, in perfect synecdoche. The revelation of that synecdoche is the lesson of any daybook.
Selected Events/Lessons (There are many, many more.)
The end of the ditch lilies at the start of July.
Counting day lilies, Asiatic and Oriental lilies measuring the passage from early summer to middle summer to late summer, peaking in the second week of July, then tapering to almost nothing by August 1.
Hummingbird moths arrive on schedule around the 4th at the peak bloom of monarda or bee-balm.Peak then decline of mid-season hostas, monarda, and hydrangeas: hobble bush, Anna Belle, Indomitable Spirit, oakleaf.
The sudden increase in mosquito activity.
Cicadas silent until well into the month, just when the katydids begin their rasping calls.
The birth of koi fingerlings.
Starlings starting to flock by the second week of July
Excited pre-dawn robinsong at the beginning of the month, then sudden silence by the third week, birds still feeding in the early morning but not calling
The deepening coloring of Joe Pye weed
The late peak and then decline of fledgling activity
Amaranth plumes appear
The height of tall bellflowers and wood nettle bloom in the woods
The start of the great wingstem bloom toward the end of the month
Cricket buzzing and chirping begins in the final weeks of middle summer
Slow decline of fireflies throughout the month
After mid-season hosta blossoms drop, Shasta daisies and purple coneflowers become the most common flowers in the village gardens.
The gradual increase in the number and variety of butterflies in the second half of July
The Daybook in Yellow Springs for July 2015
July 2, 2015: Inventory in mild 70s, a southwest breeze maybe five to ten miles an hour, overcast: Forty-four different lily plants in bloom; only a few ditch lily buds left; heliopsis bed bright an strong; zinnia drifts gathering color as more and more open; hobblebush, Annabelle and Indomitable Spirit hydrangeas lush; midseason hostas, spiderwort and monarda full flower; a few scattered wisteria flowers; the trumpet creeper shows occasional trumpets; great blue hosta still mostly in bloom; Kathy’s purple coneflowers were all open and were hosting eight red admiral butterflies all at once. The deer has eaten the tops from most of the decorative amaranth at home but is staying away from the lilies and phlox…so far. Robins guiding their young in the honeysuckles. Cardinals flitting back and forth to the feeder. Hummingbirds draining the red feeder. Mosquitoes finally thick here and at Kathy’s farm.
July 3, 2015: Jogging this morning at 4:45, birds in full chorus, crows arriving at 4:55. No crickets heard last night near 10:00 p.m., gibbous moon rising red. It felt cold today, overcast, windy. One of the minority of July 3rds so chilly. Thirty-nine lily plants in bloom today, down five from yesterday. Don’s oakleaf hydrangea flowers turning green. Robin vespers at dusk.
July 4, 2015: Another mild 4th of July. One red admiral. Bee balm full of honeybees. Bright sun, cool. Forty-three different lily plants in bloom. Things much the same as they were this day in 2013, 2014. But I look for hummingbird moths in the bee balm, none seen. No cicadas heard. On the bike path north: many Canadian thistles with puffy down, tall bellflower in full bloom all along the way, some dogbane, and several places with an unidentified eupatorium-type plant, six feet, whorled leaves, smooth stem, white flowers (but not really open yet), petals indistinguishable in axils and at the top. In the pasture across from Ellis Pond, I noticed a small flock of starlings, maybe several dozen. Riding home along Stafford Street: one tattered yucca plant and the first phlox, soft violet, seen in bloom.
July 5, 2015: An hour run to Ellis Pond and back this morning starting at 4:35 in full robin, cardinal and song sparrow chorus. I entered a zone of crowing roosters at 4:50, and I heard crows at 4:55, just like I did on July 3rd, jogging through town. Across from the pond: a bush of small Virginia roses in full flower. Teasel fully formed by without blossoms up the service road to the soybean field (plants a foot high). In the yard, mosquitoes more were peskier than I’ve ever experienced them when I transplanted daisy sprouts this afternoon. But there were 45 different lily plants in bloom, close to a record for this garden.
July 6, 2015: At 4:00 a.m., no bird, frog or cricket sounds. I went back inside, made coffee; at 4:20 robins were in full chorus, then doves and cardinals. There was no sign that the symphony would soon be over. Forty-six lily plants in bloom today, the greatest number I’ve ever counted. And I saw the first hummingbird moth of the year. It was working the bee balm with all the assorted bees. And there was a minor surge in butterflies around the yard, two great spangled fritillaries, two red admirals, one polygonia, a cabbage white and a black swallowtail, more than I’ve seen here all summer at one time. Tonight, muggy and warm: fireflies down to maybe a third of their greatest abundance. No katydids or crickets.
July 7, 2015: First field cricket of the season heard as I jogged along Greene Street. No tree crickets heard so far this year. Forty lilies in bloom this morning. Only a handful of ditch lily blossoms left. I saw the hummingbird moth in the bee balm again, got a few photos – I hope. After a brief rain this afternoon: a bright tiger swallowtail sat spread-wing on a bee balm flower; a few feet over, the hummingbird moth worked the blooms.
July 8, 2015: Forty-eight lily plants today, hummingbird moth working the monarda in spite of a fine mist. Hosta plants still at full bloom, but their flowers are about three-fourths up their stem. An evening primrose blossomed last night, the first of this planting that survived insects. In the pond a yellow water lily has opened, only the second of the summer. All around the pond’s edge, lizard’s tail has gone completely to seed.
July 9, 2015: More rain. The bee balm has collapsed as if the local deer had slept in the huge clump of flowers. The lilies hold, undamaged, however: 45 different plants this morning. Two ditch lily buds remain in the northwest drift. Don’s ditch lilies have a few more flowers and buds.
July 10, 2015: The yard soft and soggy from so much rain. Behind the birdsong, steady, low buzz of crickets. Fifty-two lily plants in bloom today, the most ever. The first phlox at home opened over night, along with a couple more evening primroses.
July 11, 2015: Teasel blooming on the way to Cincinnati, first I’ve seen this month. Large drifts of thistles to seed. Yellow sweet clover stems bare and brittle. The garden lilies: 60 plants today, a new record and twice as many as previous years. One white “fuzz bug” thrip passed me as I walked out to mow the lawn. Still, the yard has passed some kind of high-timber line of summer. The astilbes are about gone; the ditch lilies are done; the Indomitable Sprit hydrangea’s large, pink blossoms are browning; the spiderwort still blooms, but its foliage is discolored and aging; the mid-season hosta flowers are more than halfway up their stalks; the circle garden still holds its greatest number of lilies ever, but the larger and most spectacular ones have fewer than half their buds to open. The amaranth has just started to send up its plumes, however, and day by day the Joe Pie buds show more color. One red admiral butterfly seen this afternoon.
July 12, 2015: Sudden drop in the number of lily plants in bloom: only 40 today – versus 60 yesterday! In the Asiatic lily bed, two tiger lily plants in bloom. I haven’t tracked them well at all.
July 13, 2015: Fifty-three lilies in bloom, up 13 from yesterday; they ebb and flow, fewer but brighter than the zinnias still. In the pond, the very first arrowhead flowers appeared overnight. When I rode a ways down the bike path, there were the first yellow touch-me-nots I’ve seen so far this summer.
July 14, 2015: Sudden drop in the lily count today: 36 in bloom this morning, down from 53 yesterday. Compared to last year: the Indomitable Spirit hydrangea blossoms have lost their pink, Anna Belles still white but totally bent over. Joe Pye very violet buds, and actually blooming along Dayton Street. One polygonia seen, but no other butterflies. At 8:30 this evening, full cricket and frog chorus, rhythmic, pervasive. Still no cicadas heard this summer.
July 15, 2015: Forty-six lily plants in bloom today, up ten from yesterday, but the number of blossoms is declining rapidly. Two polygonia butterflies seen this morning. Four cabbage whites in the zinnias and bee balm, one red admiral, two white-spotted skippers, two huge mail tiger swallowtails. A good day for butterflies here. And for the first time: I saw a small white koi fingerling, maybe two inches long, feeding with the koi. None of the previous fingerling sightings ever produced larger fish; maybe this year! I took Jeanie to come and see. Scrawing of young starlings through the afternoon. Along the bike path, tall bell flowers continue to dominate. At the Covered Bridge, budding ironweed, fresh woodland sunflowers.
July 16, 2015: Forty-five lilies today. The air was cool when Kathy and went out along the bike path. I kept running into small white caterpillars, maybe an inch long, hanging from high branches on a thread,
July 17, 2015: This morning (soft and humid, no breeze) at 4:20, only the soft buzzing of crickets, no birds at all, only an occasional firefly. By 4:40, the cardinals were in full song, but the robins were missing. (Looking back, I see I missed the exact date the robins stopped singing – sometime between the 6th and this morning. Last year the robins chorus continued into the first week of August.) Now there is a more radical decline in the number of lily plants in bloom, a sudden collapse of color (30 plants this morning, as opposed to 45 yesterday), and very few of the plants have multiple blossoms. The monarda is becoming dusky just as the Joe Pye weed behind it brightens. The ditch lilies disappeared yesterday. Today, the last lily blossom in the dooryard garden is open, will shrivel tomorrow. The deep orange lilies in the northwest corner of the property are gone, and now that corner is unanchored. Most of the hosta flowers are reaching the top of their stalks, the spent blossoms dulling the drifts. The spiderwort continues to weaken, its foliage stained, flowers fewer. The bright orange lilies, anchors in the northeast garden near the redbud tree and the fern garden, were gone just after July 4th. The late-blooming Star Gazer lilies that Jeanie kept adding along the south edge of the house have not returned this year. I asked her where she put them, if she had taken them. Was she mad about what I used to say about them? I will have to get more. Still no cicadas heard, but one spicebush butterfly crossed Dayton Street in front of me today.
July 18, 2015: Thirty-nine lily plants in bloom today. One male tiger swallowtail at the zinnias this morning. A fair number of fireflies this evening.
July 19, 2015: Thirty-six lily plants in bloom today. A male tiger swallowtail visited the tithonia throughout the morning. In the past two days, almost all the mid-season hostas have completed their flowering. Monarda graying quickly. Shasta daisies and heliopsis anchor the northwest garden, zinnias and tithonias taking over the long north garden. More koi fingerlings have appeared at feeding time, seems like maybe a dozen! And I found the first long-bodied orbweaver of the year in its web over the pond.
July 20, 2015: Twenty-nine lilies in bloom today. Jumpseed plants are budding. Blue vervain full bloom in the field across from Ellis Pond.
July 21, 2015: Twenty-six lily plants in bloom today, the circle garden continuing to hold strong but the north gardens almost gone. The stargazer lilies didn’t bloom this year; I transplanted all of them in the fall and spring, but the transplant obviously was not successful. Now a new phase for me: the early summer garden comes to an end, time to clean up where the June and July perennials have gone to seed, thinning the weeds that grew up around them (held in check by their vigor, but now being overrun as the weeds grow stronger). I cut back hosta and lily flower stalks, cleared some bindweed and clearweed, propped up the tangled primroses, transplanted the overgrown decorative grasses, put string around the new zinnia flower patch. It is time to be cutting the zinnias now in order to keep them coming in and to keep them compensating for the lack of perennials. This is also the time of coneflowers and Shasta daisies throughout the village, but I have only one small patch of Shastas, and the heliopsis are falling over and need trimming. Butterflies continue scarce: One white-spotted skipper, one male tiger swallowtail. Blackberries reddening along the bike path near Ellis Pond.
July 22, 2015: Running at 4:18 a.m., clear and cool in the middle 50s: Buzzing of crickets throughout the neighborhood. The first cardinal sang at 4:28, but steady cardinal chanting did not start until 4:35. No robin chorus at all, only scattered chirping around 4:55. Crows and doves were late, 5:12. Steady, rhythmic sparrow chirping by 5:30. Twenty-five lily plants in bloom today. Cicadas prominent in spite of the cool wave that arrived yesterday evening…or perhaps because of it. By the front gate: the first jumpseed plant is blooming. Now that the plain mid-season hostas have finished flowering, the blossoms of the variegated hostas with dark green leaves and light edges are in prominent full bloom.
July 23, 2015: Twenty-two lily plants in bloom this morning. A patch of resurrection lilies in full flower along Elm Street across from the school. False buckwheat budding at Peggy’s. Tonight, the katydids are chanting beyond Dayton Street, the first time I’ve heard them this summer.
July 24, 2015: Into South Glen, sun, warm in the upper 70s: The paths were completely overgrown, and I had a few problems finding my way. Mosquitoes were pesky except in the sun, and in the wooded areas, I walked through micrathena spider webs every few hundred feet. (I counted my steps between webs. They seemed to give each other plenty of space.) The trail was often covered with smartweed. It was thick with wood nettle in many places, and I often had to move along with my hands in the air to keep from getting stung. Where the wood nettle thinned, wingstem became the dominant growth, and I waded through that as well for most of the way. Only a few of the wingstem plants were flowering, and my expedition took place at the very beginning of their bloom period. There was very little else besides wood mint and tall bell flowers open beneath the canopy; instead, the skeletons from middle summer: bare avens, honewort, lopseed, enchanter’s nightshade In the prairie plots, a few blackberries were ripe, ironweed was flushed but not flowering, teasel and beebalm added violet to the plantings, black-eyed-Susans and wood mint scattered yellow through the grasses, and a magnificent pair of royal catchfly plants in full flower. I saw a few buckeyes and black walnuts close to full size. Sumac fruits were deep red, and some of the shrubs showed bright scarlet leaves. Swallowtail butterflies flew by from time to time, some yellow, some black. I saw a few damselflies by the river. At home, twenty lily plants in bloom. White-spotted skippers and an admiral in the zinnias. Six showy coneflower plants set out in front of the lilies of the North Garden.
July 25, 2015: My sister Tat in Wisconsin says that she has seen lots of monarch butterflies lately, four at one time in her front garden, many along the bike path. And the hummingbirds: “thousands of them like falling stars.” Today in the sun at home, a giant swallowtail, a male tiger swallowtail, two black swallowtails, a large female tiger, the most in one day so far. Hummingbirds in the zinnias. Nineteen lily plants in bloom. Reading last year’s note about the raccoon and the bird bath: something tipped over the birdbath last week, breaking it in half.
July 26, 2015: Nineteen lily plants in bloom. Two yellow tiger swallowtails, one black swallowtail noticed in the circle garden in the afternoon, but I was watching only a few minutes. Katydids, high-singing crickets and buzzing crickets at night, the muggy air dense, crowded with mating calls.
July 27, 2015: Humid, warm and overcast: At 4:55 this morning, cardinals sang hard through the neighborhood. Even though the were small flocks of robins along High Street – in the street and on the sidewalks – I heard no mating song, only an occasional peep. And there were no other robin calls as I made my 30-minute run. Crows cawed as I jogged down South College Street at 5:25, and I heard a song sparrow at 5:30, but it was clearly the cardinal’s morning. Darkening skies and a thunderstorm at 6:30, then sun and heat, more humidity. Swallowtails continue to visit the zinnias and tithonias: male tigers and blacks. Fourteen lily plants in bloom, maybe twenty blossoms in all.
July 28, 2015: Ten lily plants left in bloom, almost no presence at all now, tithonias becoming dominant, pushing out the zinnias. Some spiderwort cut back. A giant swallowtail, a male tiger, an Eastern black, a painted lady, a polygonia seen as I walked in and out today.
July 29, 2015: A little after sunrise, a run to Ellis Pond and back: Loud rattle of tree crickets, chirping of field crickets; doves calling; a cluster of robins scouting the pavement and yards down Pleasant Street, but no robin chorus; some cardinal song toward the edge of town, but not near my house; a song sparrow, a red-bellied woodpecker, a kingfisher heard at home as the sun came over the tree line. Near the pasture fence were very late yellow moth mullein flowers and some small field thistles in bloom. Across the gardens of the village, there were purple and golden coneflowers, daisies, late-July hostas, Russian sage, butterfly bushes, phlox, rose of Sharon, a rich display of the season’s moment. As I write this at 7:15, the town crows have settled in the back trees and are talking about something obviously important. A katydid found resting on the front screen door this morning; looking back over the daybook, I see that a katydid had gotten into the house on this date in 1993, something of little consequence, I suspect, except for its exceptionality – the exceptionality of those particular observations.
July 30, 2015: Cardinals strong after 5:00 a.m., but no robins. Eleven lilies in bloom, most of those with only one blossom, their last. Swallowtails on and off throughout the day, and the garden very much as I described it this day in 2013. Message from Matt Minde this evening: he found a luna moth when he was mowing the lawn, the first time a luna has been reported to me in Yellow Springs.
July 31, 2015: Cardinals in full song when I went outside at 5:00, no robins. Seven lilies blooming today, which includes one naked lady. To Xenia and back on the bike path: very late tall bell flowers, still some bouncing bets, some violet phlox – a domestic variety escaped to the path, Jerusalem artichokes full, small flowered/thin-leafed coneflowers, early yellow touch-me-nots. The first ironweed bright and purple in a field beyond Goes Station, and the first burdock flowering in the shade. One small, white caterpillar hanging from a fiber. Occasional swallowtails along the path, male tigers, skippers, whites, giant swallowtails at home, and then I glimpsed the first monarch of my summer flying up through the zinnias toward Moya’s house.