The Daybook for the Year in Yellow Springs
The 162nd Day of the Year
Where’er you walk cool gales shall fan the glade;
Trees, where you sit, shall crowd into a shade;
Where’er you tread, the blushing flowers shall rise,
And all things flourish where you turn your eyes.
Day’s Length: 14 hours 57 minutes
Average High/Low: 81/60
Average Temperature: 70
Record High: 96 – 1911 Record Low: 40 – 1972
There is a ten percent chance for a high in the 90s today, 55 percent for 80s, thirty percent for 70s, five percent for 60s. The sky is clear to partly cloudy eight years in ten, but rain comes 50 percent of the time. The morning is cool (in the 40s or 50s) two thirds of the years, the last time the percentage is so high until September 15th.
The violet heads of May’s chives droop and decay. Tall buttercups recede into the wetlands. The blossoms of the scarlet pyrethrums, blue lupines, and Siberian iris come apart. Nettles and grasses reach waist high and tangle with catchweed (the catchweed flowers turned to burs).
Chiggers and Japanese Beetles
A survey of “first chigger bites” and “first Japanese beetle sightings” from June 4 through July 5 between the early 1980s and the first several years of the 21st century offers a tentative timetable for the onslaught of these two insects. Easy markers for the beginning of the chigger and beetle season are red honeysuckle berries, half-grown black walnuts and Osage orange fruits, ripening wild black raspberries, and sighting of the first stag beetle (a beetle which does no harm to humans or gardens).
May 21, 2014: Shulamit reports her first bite in Dayton.
June 4, 2012: First chigger bite today after working in the yard, the earliest ever – after a record-breaking warm spring.
June 7, 2017: First chigger bite of the year noticed on my leg.
June 11, 1986: At South Glen, I got my first chigger bite of the year.
June 11, 1988: First chigger bite.
June 11, 2011: First chigger bite on my ankle.
June 12, 2008: First chigger bite in the yard this morning.
June 13, 1998: First Japanese beetles in the garden roses.
June 16, 2004: First Japanese beetles found on the ferns.
June 16, 2005: Jeanie got the first chigger bites of the year today, about five days later than the earliest years.
June 17, 2004: First chigger bites in the garden.
June 18, 1987: I’m full of chiggers after a day walking.
June 18, 2009: Jeanie reports the first chigger bits after working in the garden.
June 18, 2001: Chiggers have attacked me!
June 20, 2012: First Japanese beetles found: in the zinnias.
June 21, 1998: Five Japanese beetles in the roses.
June 21, 1999: A few Japanese beetles in the roses.
June 21, 2004: Home from southern Wisconsin: Japanese beetles have eaten the roses.
June 25, 2001: First Japanese beetle found in the roses.
June 25, 2010: First chigger bite when I mowed the lawn.
June 26, 2003: I got my first chigger bites today; Jeanie was attacked yesterday.
June 27, 2016: First Japanese beetle found in the lilies.
June 29, 1982: First chigger bites from walk in the woods.
June 30, 1993: First Japanese beetles found in the roses, have probably been out a couple days.
June 30, 2003: First Japanese beetles found in the roses.
July 1, 1996: Japanese beetles arrived on June 30th.
July 2, 1983: First chigger bite of the year.
July 5, 1997: First Japanese beetle found on the roses.
1982: End of catalpa flowers.
1983: Bluegills still guard their nests at the Bletzingers’ pond.
1984: A few peonies, the medium pink, hang on in the village. Motherwort bloomed today. An indigo bunting seen, the first ever.
1985: Yucca blooming today.
1986: At South Glen, smooth brome had droplets of yellow pollen. Teasel heads were three-fourths of an inch long. I got my first chigger bite of the year. First wild petunia seen. Water willow full bloom in the Little Miami River.
1988: No fireflies yet. First teasel head found, three fourths of an inch tall. Timothy emerges from its sheath. First chigger bite noticed.
1989: Belize: west to the Guatemalan border. The land dry throughout, until Benque Viejo, where it had rained six hours straight on the 10th. North into the outcroppings of stone, the horizon was gray from field fires. A resident told me the milpas were burned beginning around May 15th, the corn and beans planted after the first soaking rain. At the ruins of Benque Viejo, the sky was identical to last year’s here on the 23rd, dramatic, high cirrus sweeping up over Guatemala. Returning to Belize City, I saw water lilies blooming in the river.
1991: First hollyhocks open in the yard. First large dish of black raspberries picked; some reds will be ready in a few days. Our tree of heaven completed its flowering today.
1993: At home, first deep orange lychnis opened, first motherwort. Red astilbe color shows clearly now. Along the way to Caesar Creek, the catalpas were in full bloom, their white flowers replacing the locusts, exotic, tropical. The sky was divided, clear to the north, mostly cloudy to the south; I fished exactly between a cool front and a warm front for most of the day. The lake was sweet with the smell of multiflora roses and boxwood, loud with the sucking and splashing of carp, boisterous flicker calls, the brow, brow, brow of bullfrogs, steady jumping of small and large fish across the water, whine of catbirds. A curious red admiral butterfly rested on my cooler, unafraid as I got bait and moved about the boat. He flew away after a while, came back in 20 minutes, then he was replaced by a persistent blue that landed on my shirt, tasted the sweat. Then later, a brown visited, like the one that stayed with me at the other catfish hole two years ago. Water bugs mating, swallows hunting back and forth across the lake. A pair of flickers came to the dead osage above my bobbers. They courted, kissed for a minute, then the male mounted, they mated a few seconds, and they were gone. Three large catfish caught in five hours.
1997: The coolest year on record so far: mock orange petals three-fourths fallen, with the locust leaves a third of their summer size, the last Siberian iris blooming, the full bloom of sweet Williams and lady’s mantel, the early days of privet. On the way home from school, the first yellow daylily seen along Grinnell Road. In the garden, spinach is going to seed and radishes hot, peppers and tomatoes in flower, lettuce and kale getting body. Thyme and parsley are ready to use. At the Cascades, there were tiny locust petals and fragments of tulip tree flowers scattered across the path. On the forest floor, only the white violets and the waterleaf were in bloom.
1998: Grackles have been chattering steadily all morning, the ritual of the young leaving the nest and the ritual of the feasting on mulberries and raspberries. Large white buds grow more prominent on the great blue hosta. The Francis Thompson hosta planted just a week or so ago has opened almost all the way, and the variegated hosta is fully stalked and budding. Yuccas are high, but none seen blooming yet.
1999: Acadia National Park, Maine: Full young rhododendrons, roses, bluettes, blue-eyed grass, bunchberry, swamp valerian.
2000: This morning when I got home from work, I found that a pink Asiatic lily had bloomed overnight, west of the latest orange. Along the freeway this afternoon, hemlock two-thirds to seed, maybe a fourth of the thistles. In Dayton, some hollyhocks and hosta seen in early full bloom; at home, two hollyhocks have emerged, and the great blue hosta is opening. The first pale violet mallow flower came in too. First purple coneflower seen in the village. More fireflies are out tonight.
2001: Common ditch lilies finally starting along the roadsides. Astilbe full bloom at home.
2002: Astilbe continues in full bloom. The third orange Asiatic lily opened today. Catalpas holding on.
2003: The first orange Asiatic lily opened today, and the first Shasta daisy unraveled. First trumpet creeper seen. Full bloom time for primrose, achillea, white penstemon, sweet William, spiderwort, peach-leafed bellflower. Now the stella d’oro lilies are starting to come in throughout the area. The robin chorus was light at 4:00 a.m., and grew steadily for an hour and a half. Doves joined in at 4:40, a few cardinals and blackbirds near 5:00.
2004: This year, the white penstemon and the peach-leafed bellflowers are now almost done.
2005: The dark-purple water iris hold for a second day. The spirea bush in the back yard and one orange daylily in the northwest garden, one astilbe under the redbud tree all opened last night. Oak-leaf hydrangeas are starting to produce petals. Pie cherries and serviceberries are ripening on Dayton Street, pacing the mulberries.
2006: Fully grown camel cricket found in Jeanie’s teacup this morning.
2007: Monarch butterfly visits the sweet Williams in the late morning. Young grackles still being fed in the yard this afternoon.
2008: The second daylily, a pale pink one, bloomed overnight. The new green frog that has been at the pond for several weeks croaked this morning for the first time at 5:07, croaked again in the middle of the afternoon. Stella d’oro lilies are in full bloom in Xenia; the transplanted ones in the north garden just came in today. A young fawn, its spots still very prominent was feeding in Moya’s back yard this afternoon about 4:00. Yucca seen in bloom in Xenia. Jeanie is renovating the circle garden now, cutting back the hyacinths, flax and violets, getting ready to put in whirling butterflies, butterfly bushes and more herbs.
2009: Oakleaf hydrangea getting more white petals. Sweet Williams fading. Anna Belle hydrangea opening. One full purple larkspur plant, three heliopsis flowers, several Asiatic orange lilies and one Turk’s cap, in addition to the earlier full candy lilies. In the alley, a couple of black raspberries ripening. Grackles feeding their young in the Stafford Street maples. Waning privet blossoms hold here and there on the Limestone Street hedge.
2010: A ruby-throated hummingbird looking for nectar in the sparse penstemon blossoms before dawn. As he turned toward me, his deep red throat flashed in the twilight. All but one of the Japanese iris are done now in the pond. Eleven raspberries picked this morning from last year’s growth – our biggest harvest so far. The deer has switched from lilies and lettuce to peas. Endless summer hydrangeas have large white and pink flower clusters.
2011: Osage fruits, hairy and an inch or so in diameter, down on the sidewalk this morning, victims of last night’s storm. The last Japanese iris has wilted in the pond. First white-spotted skipper near the apple tree, a large dragonfly close by. I had the first chigger-like bites in the garden this afternoon. The earliest monarda is opening.
2013: Sardinia: Portoscuso: Perfect weather in the 80s with a sea breeze. We drove the coast from beach to beach, along the shore all types of thick-leafed perennials, fully conditioned to their habitat by the steady mild winds. Many of the familiar landmarks that I saw in Sicily and around Spoleto: the yellow ginestra; oleander shrubs in pink and white and violet along the roads and streets; the large-petaled cactus, opoatia ficus indice L. Miller, with yellow blossoms; Queen Anne’s lace in abundance; orange poppies; a variety of thick, maritime angelica; figs ripening; roses flowering; grains and roadside grasses all golden brown; haying underway throughout the island – as it was in Umbria and Sicily; olive groves in bloom; vineyards strong; some blackberry bushes setting fruit; cottonwood cotton in the wind; teasel tall but not flowering yet; tall hollyhock-like mallow common in reds and pinks; bindweeds and knapweeds with their soft violets. And beach after beach with pale sand and the ocean so perfectly clear, turquoise, some waves high from the wind, some sheltered places still and benign. Where we waded or swam, the water was still chilly, but sometimes I could stand on mossy rocks, just a few feet underwater, that had been warmed by the sun.
2014: Privets and catalpas falling now, many mulberries and pie cherries ready for pie, strawberries at Alice’s coming in strong for over a week, garden rhubarb almost too ripe, great mullein budded, orchard grass and wild onions and catchweed going to seed in the alley. The garden is beginning to show more color now, the stella d’oros and the orange Asiatics giving patches of brightness here and there, the primroses (oenethera) holding, spiderwort and catmint adding purple and violet, and all the zinnia sprouts beginning to color the soil with green.
2015: To North Glen with Rosemary and Chris: One small polygonia, one unidentified polygonia-like butterfly with pointed wings, and a white moth with a black cross on its “back,” a very early clymene. Dominant foliage: touch-me-not to four feet, wood nettle almost ready to bloom, some ironweed and wingstem to five feet. Honewort seen in flower, common, in a two-hour walk. A few scraggly white violets in one small patch. Several wild onions flowering. Along the river, privet flowers were falling. One micrathena seen in its circular web. The very first yucca flower opened on Fairfield Road. The yard at home is almost the same as last year. This year, though, I have noticed that the monarda has started to head up.
2016: Seven ditch lilies this morning and eight other lily plants, seven of them stella d’oros and one everbloomer. Four heliopsis flowers open, summer well underway now. Primroses and spiderworts complement the new blossoms. The lone astilbe from years ago, has poked its flower head out from the weeds under the redbud tree, indomitable. At the corner of Davis and High Streets, three ripe black raspberries.
2017: Four chigger bites counted this morning. Twelve stella d’oro lily blossoms, two rebloomer blossoms and two Asiatic blossoms, no ditch lilies in the yard. The last pond iris holds. Except for three heliopsis blossoms instead of four and a small variation in the lily count, the season runs parallel to last year’s and to 2015s and 2014s. First yellow touch-me-nots just off Stafford Street. First yucca flowers along North West College Street. Heat now settles in across the Midwest, 90s here and in Madison, Wisconsin.
Doubtless God could have made a better berry, but doubtless God never did.
Dr. Boteler (in Isaac Walton)