May 30: Daybook for the Year in Yellow Springs

May 30th
The 150th Day of the Year

All our living is regulated by the revolving seasons. They determine what we do, what we think and talk about, what we eat, the pattern of each day. Our house adjusts to the seasons, opening in the summer and closing against the winter’s cold. The time of our getting up in the morning depends on when the sun rises. Who would want to lie abed in a summer dawn, when the air is filled with birdsong?

Harlan Hubbard, Payne Hollow

Sunrise/set: 5:09/7:56
Day’s Length: 14 hours 45 minutes
Average High/Lo: 77/56
Average Temperature: 66
Record High: 95 – 1895
Record Low: 37 – 1947

The likelihood of rain (a full 70 percent yesterday) falls to just 35 percent today. The sun shows through the clouds 80 percent of the time instead of just 55 percent. The temperature distribution is even a little better: chances for 90s: ten percent; for 80s: thirty-five percent; for 70s: thirty-five percent; for 60s: twenty percent. Although frost does not usually occur on this date, the seventh high pressure system of the month can drop lows into the upper 30s.

Natural Calendar
After locust trees are done flowering, then snow-on-the-mountain blossoms and sweet Williams, clematis, and spiderwort open. White-spotted skippers and red admiral butterflies visit the garden. Gold-collared black flies swarm in the pastures. Leafhoppers look for corn. Scorpion flies make their appearance in the barnyard.

Bright green six-spotted tiger beetles race along the deer paths of the woods. Grasshoppers come to the fields. Northern Spring Field Crickets, the first crickets of the year to sing, are singing. Robin fledglings are out of the nest. The antlers of white-tailed bucks are almost half grown. Reckless adolescent groundhogs wander the roadsides.

Multiflora roses, pink spirea, yellow sweet clover, Canadian thistles, privet, and yellow poplars are budding and blooming. Evergreens have four to six inches of new growth. Sycamore and ginkgo leaves are almost full size, and the rest of the maples are filling in. Rhododendrons follow the azaleas, joined by the raspberries and blackberries. Blue-eyed grass is open. Wild strawberries climb, bright yellow, through the purple ivy and the sticky catchweed. Grasses along the riverbanks are waist-high and more.

1983: Yellow poplar noticed in bloom at Antioch.

1984: South Glen along the railroad tracks: Grapes, common cinquefoil, sulfur cinquefoil, red clover, first poison hemlock, angelica, ragwort, raspberries, meadow goat’s beard, sweet rocket, fire pink, wild geranium, henbit, columbine, white campion, parsnips, fleabane, golden Alexanders, tall buttercups, honeysuckle, corn salad, cow parsnip, black medic, Miami mist, smooth-leafed dock, Virginia spiderwort, Solomon’s plume, field parsnip, clustered snakeroot, daisies, waterleaf, sedum, tall white violets in bloom. Catchweed, garlic mustard, sweet Cicely going to seed. Last days of the winter cress, field peppergrass, purple deadnettle, and spring phlox, larkspur, Jack-in-the-pulpit, toad trillium. May apples formed. Last petals of a dogwood lying on the needle floor of the Pine Forest. Indian hemp lanky at three feet, budding. Poison ivy and blackberry bushes budding. Wild petunia and pokeweed foliage a foot tall. Coneflower foliage knee high. Yarrow and meadow rue budding. Buckeyes have half-inch burrs, yellow poplar flowers falling to the ground. Sycamore leaves only half developed. A cluster of thin black caterpillars eating nettle. Leafhoppers are out, and small box elder bugs.  Two geese with three fat goslings. Four deer seen, two with foot-long antlers covered with velvet. Solar eclipse at noon, I watched it in a rain puddle.

1985: Privet in bloom.

1986: Mill Habitat: Crickets loud about five in the afternoon. Long black cricket hunter seen on the seeding parsnips. Round seed heads of the goat’s beard are common. Fire pink full bloom. First avens of the year in bloom. First enchanter’s nightshade. First moth mullein seen. First timothy has emerged from its sheath. Daisy fleabane and water willow blooming. Rockets almost gone. At Wilberforce, first chicory blossoms, and lesser stitchwort discovered open. Another baby robin seen today and a tortoise shell butterfly.

1987: Fields of red and yellow clover. First Canadian thistles flowering. Privet full bloom. Dogbane high and flowering. Catalpas are out everywhere. More chicory seen.

1988: Crickets in the yard start to chant in the early morning. Cedar waxwings feed in the locust flowers, the flower petals falling with the light breeze into the seeding grass. Squirrels seen half grown. Peonies full still, and mock orange. Still a few last garlic mustard. First tropical depression of the season begins to form 250 miles southwest of Havana.

1989: Osage is flowering today. Locust finally seen in bloom, full along Corry Street.

1990: Buttercups almost gone at home, forget-me-nots gone, sweet rockets disappearing quickly. In the country, rockets holding better. Many poppies gone, iris fading to maybe a third, with a few buds left to open.

1993: Tat calls from Chicago: heavy rain and hail there. After dark, a tornado touches down 30 miles south of Yellow Springs.

1995: July’s coneflowers are a foot tall now. Phlox are almost at their summer height. Roses are just starting to open. All the purple Siberian iris are blooming, all of the daisies, the pyrethrum, maybe three fourths of the sweet Williams. The new multicolored Siberian iris have just started to open. Asiatic lilies are budding. Daisy fleabane by the bird feeder is almost five feet tall.

1998: Catalpas in full bloom on Allen Street. Privets early bloom everywhere. Very last bleeding heart and mock orange. Purple coneflowers have headed up, along with the heliopsis. The water iris are just past their peak. Roses lush. Poppies continue in the south garden, but past their prime. Red pyrethrums ready to cut back, early daisies full. Green frog calling. The toads have disappeared completely. First long black cricket hunter seen by the pond. First pale chicory seen along the freeways, and birdsfoot trefoil full, some moth mullein. Great mullein heading quickly. Motherwort early in the yard.

1999: Full catalpas, locust canopy closing quickly, wheat rich gray green. Mock orange collapses and peonies melt, pond iris all disappear by the end of the day.

2001: First hurricane of the year forms off Baja California.

2002: First poppy in the yard unravels, first yellow sundrop primrose (oenothera). End of rhododendron bloom along the south garden. In the woods, garlic mustard season is over.

2003: At Santee Cooper in South Carolina, early rose of Sharon is blooming at the cabin, clearly marking a four-week difference between central Carolina and Yellow Springs.

2004: The first chicory seen blooming along the freeway in Kettering. Catalpas full throughout, have been open at least a week. Only the late pink peonies hold. Japanese honeysuckles and the yellow sundrop primrose patch have been in full bloom about three or four days. Water willow was flowering in the pond today, Japanese pond iris late full, lizard’s tail completely formed, four water lilies blossoming. Two patches of small golden lilies are in full bloom. Another orange lily, a taller one came in this morning. Tufts of cottonwood cotton float by on the wind.

2005: The first poppy in the yard opened fully overnight in the cool rain. The frog is still here, calling just before the showers intensify. The parakeets Jeanie brought home from school yesterday started singing at 5:45 a.m. Mock orange and peonies are still completely full.

2006: First yellow sundrop in the east garden unravels. The  pond iris are blossoming beside it. Japanese honeysuckles are starting to flower throughout the forsythia hedge. First nodding thistle noticed open along the freeway on the way in to Dayton. Hemlock and yellow sweet clover full bloom. Sweet gum seed clusters are a third of their mature size. Kousa dogwoods hold on in the park.

2007: The first bright yellow evening primrose has opened in the north garden. More orange and yellow lilies in bloom. More rose blossoms – yellow and pink. Lettuce and radishes ready for salad. Cedar waxwings still in the white mulberry for a little while. A row of old amaryllis bulbs planted in the garden, and a handful of hardy gladioli. On the way home from Dayton this evening, I saw parsnips and catalpa trees in full bloom.

2009: First yellow evening primrose in the garden. Full yellow tea roses. Nine candy lilies in bloom. Foxglove full bloom in town.

2010: Yellow swallowtail in the garden, one skipper in the fading circle garden. White achillea blooming at Moya’s, oakleaf hydrangea and hobblebush coming in along the western border of our yard, maple leaf waterleaf in bloom, birdsfoot trefoil bright yellow along the road to Fairborn. Jeni, visiting from Portland, reports a whole field of fireflies at the edge of town.

2011: From the train windows I could see corn was at least a foot tall throughout Umbria, and wheat had turned gold. Jasmine found in full bloom on our return to Spoleto from Rome.

2013: Umbria, Italy: Corn is three to six inches tall, the rivers full, reflecting the cold wet spring. Jasmine in full bloom, yellow ginestra blossoms bright and common throughout the countryside, orange poppies in bloom, pink spirea open at the Trabalza house. In Campello Alto, figs green and full size, will be ripe in two to three months. The canopy closing, flowering thistles, sage, roses, yellow sweet clover, white clover, yucca, purple vetch, black medic, and small headed hawkweed – and especially the wide open mock orange – all put the season at about the same as in Yellow Springs for this time of year.

2014: I walk in the morning an hour before sunrise, and the robins are in full mating song, and their chorus has spread throughout the neighborhood, equally boisterous from block to block. Robins race across the street in front of me, zoom above me, whinnying, swerving around tree branches, erratic as bats in the twilight.

Yesterday, I found a robin fledgling sitting on the trellis; the first brood has left the nest, but the flock still exults in the first days of early summer, breeds and breeds, loud and reckless. They must be happy, I say to myself. They must be living in such intensity, consumed first with lust and then with nurture and then with guidance (never leaving their fledglings out of the sound of their steady calls), and then with restless retreat and grouping for migration or winter survival in the local honeysuckles.

I walk the garden to check the cosmos and zinnia seeds that I have planted. I take inventory of the progress of the lilies. The deer have not eaten the buds yet; maybe they will eat lilies elsewhere. I see that moles have pushed up the dirt in the middle of the yard, the first moles here since we moved to High Street in 1978.

The peonies are so lush and heavy they are falling into the grass that has grown too long. Petals from the locust trees fall at my feet. By the shed, the last flowers of the mock orange are still sweet. In the circle garden, all the hyacinths have collapsed, leaving a tangle of decay in place of the rich, violet blossoms of three weeks ago. Jeanie always cut away the leaves and stalks to make a place for poppies and penstemon. I haven’t gotten to that yet.

The first damselfly comes to visit the pond. A pale female hummingbird visits the feeder Ruby gave us years ago. There are no butterflies in the yard this year, and I wonder if the bitter winter took its toll or if the Sixth Extinction is really at hand. I look up trying to find the cedar waxwings that always used to sing high in our white mulberry tree this week of the year, but I see only two starlings. Against absences, the robins chatter and chirp in the honeysuckles that surround and protect the yard. The birds are modest in the daylight, perhaps exhausted from so much riotous venery, maybe simply baby sitting, watching and teaching.

2016: A bright and wet dawn after an evening of thunderstorms: A black damselfly circled the water garden. Robins peeping continually in the honeysuckles, grackles clucking. The air is heavy with the scent of Japanese honeysuckle. A green-bodied damselfly came by in the afternoon. I cut back the hyacinths in the circle garden and replaced the foliage with zinnia sprouts. Cottonwood cotton floated down on the lawn, set down a seed-laden coverlet on the roadsides Privets are just starting to open along High Street. On the way to Ellis Pond, I saw the earliest hosta with white flowers. Budding catalpas by the pond. The Kousa dogwood at the triangle bark has a few final petals, the last dogwood petals of the year there. Along the bike path: Blackberries and multiflora roses. Some corn along Polecat Road is almost knee high.

2017: A gold-bodied green-bottle fly seen in the heliopsis foliage. At the North Glen: white violets, late waterleaf and a clump of fire pinks in full bloom (another clump seen a few days ago near the pike path). Two black damselflies near the creek. I saw a family picking pie cherries from a tree near Corry Stree

1 Comment

  1. barbaraavaldez

    Such profusion, Eden-like? And the immediacy is notable. Thank you for this kaleidoscopic lens, the real thing.


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