The Daybook for the Year in Yellow Springs
The 165th Day of the Year
Taste the sugar berry sugar purple berry
sugar wild hot sugar sunning sugar berry
sugar in the sun.
Day’s Length: 14 hours 59 minutes
Average High/Low: 82/61
Average Temperature: 71
Record High: 94 – 1895
Record Low: 46 – 1978
Today is a hot day in a typical year at average elevations along the 40th Parallel (40 percent chance of 90s, fifty percent for 80s, just ten percent chance for 70s), with a 90 percent chance of sun, and a 30 percent chance for a passing thunderstorm. Cool mornings in the 50s occur just twice in a decade, making this the first time so far this year that the chances for lows in the 60s reach 80 percent.
Orchard grass is brown and old, English rye grass full bloom, exotic bottle grass late bloom, brome grass very late, some timothy still tender. More Asiatic lilies are coming in now, first the orange, then the pink. Yellow primroses, foxglove, pink and yellow achillea, late daisies, purple spiderwort and speedwell shine in the garden. All across the nation’s midsection, there are hedges of white elderberry flowers, roadsides of violet crown vetch, great fields of gold and green wheat.
Hemlocks and thistles have gone to seed near St. Louis. Sweet clover has almost disappeared in Memphis, and the blackberries there are turning red. In the Deep South, Queen Anne’s lace blooms, wild lettuce and horseweed too, and elderberries set their fruit. The wheat fields are bare along the Gulf of Mexico, the roadsides full of black-eyed Susans, pennywort, thin-leafed mountain mint and Mexican hat. Deep in Central America, the sugar cane crop paces the sweet corn in Iowa.
Late winter’s Castor and Pollux set in the northwest before midnight. Arcturus and the Corona Borealis are overhead then, Hercules not far behind them to the east, followed by the Milky Way, middle summer’s Vega and the Northern Cross. July’s Scorpius pursues Libra across the southern sky.
1980: Mulberries ripening, falling to the street..
1982: Young starlings in the yard trying to fly.
1984: First raspberry ripe today.
1988: First tall violet mallow bloomed today along the south wall. Goslings, a third to half grown, were crossing the highway south of town with five or six adults. I saw a painted turtle laying eggs in the path near Mill Dam and found the first wild petunia in bloom. At sundown, carp lay near the surface of the low river near shore, drifting listlessly as though the heat and the drought had drained their energy.
1990: Some of the mulberry crop is gone now. Blueweed is in full bloom along the railroad tracks.
1991: Mulberries peak, fall to the street purple. They came in early, stayed just two weeks in the warm, dry weather. To Columbus: parsnips and sweet clover still bright, crown vetch rich, trumpet creeper seen full bloom.
1995: To St. Louis: Through Indianapolis, the land lush with yellow sweet clover, trefoil, purple cow vetch, pink crown vetch, poison hemlock, wild parsnips, yellow moth mullein. The wheat is golden green. At about 180 miles southwest of Yellow Springs, the first white sweet clover comes into bloom, the first sign that we are driving deeper into summer. About 250 miles from home, the first milkweed opens, and cattails are twice as tall as they are at Jacoby. Wheat browns rapidly as we approach St. Louis. Yucca is in full bloom, and half the white hemlock flowers have suddenly turned to seeds. Nodding thistles, still fresh and full in Greene County, begin to break apart, more than half of them to thistle down along the Mississippi. In eight hours, how far have we gone? A week for sure, more like two, placing us at the 1st of July, Yellow Springs Time.
1996: Summer finally settling in now. The rains that lasted through April and May and the first week of June are finally letting up a little bit. In the woods, everything is fresh and moist. The river is still high but starting to subside. Honewort, fire pink, white violets are common in the undergrowth. Parsnips and goat’s beard full bloom along the highways. Catalpas dropped some of their flowers in the thunderstorm this afternoon. Butterflies are common, fireflies (which first appeared on the 9th) obvious now after dark. The first lilies were late, but appeared with the fireflies. Along the west border of the yard, first bloom of the giant white-flowered hosta.
1999: Maine: Mid-May of Yellow Springs continues. First robin birdsong at 3:00 a.m. Flowers seen: Alpine azalea, field sorrel with reddish dock-like flowers, arrow shaped leaves, blue ocean lungwort-type of plant growing in rocks along the shore. Wide vistas of orange hawkweeds and golden buttercups.
2000: I got up late, about 5:30, the morning quiet, no chorus, no cardinals.
2001: Last bowl of strawberries from the home patch. This morning in the sun, dozens of red admiral and question mark butterflies, along with several buckeyes and fritillaries, clustered against the far west garden. This afternoon, soft pale lizard’s tail flowers opened. Tonight, the first fireflies.
2002: Very last strawberry. Very first mallow.
2003: Larkspur opened yesterday in the north garden. By 6:00 this morning, only a few grackles calling in the back yard. First two fireflies of the year seen tonight about 9:30.
2004: First centipede appeared in the bathtub!
2005: First moonbeam coreopsis opens. New daylily, peach color, opens in the northeast garden. Birdsong vibrant and loud at 4:30 a.m. Full bloom: great blue hosta, heliopsis, coreopsis, oak-leaf hydrangea, sweet William (declining), penstemon, spirea, privet, candy lilies.
2007: Catbird heard in the back yard before sunrise. Raccoon or skunk dug up five coleus plants from around the redbud tree overnight. Also broke into the garbage can and scattered food around. In the shed, it shredded the thistle seed bag and scattered seeds on the floor.
2009: Great blue hosta flowers opened today.
2010: Some corn is up to my chest on the way to Xenia. Another dozen raspberries this morning! One butterfly bush on the corner of Davis and High Streets is in bloom, but our bushes are only budded. Peas ready to eat in our garden, lettuce holding. The tips of the spring growth on the raspberries have wilted on many plants, but there is no sign of a fungus or insects.
2011: Crickets have been calling ever since we got home on June 8th, the first year I’ve noticed them this early in town, local northern spring field crickets most likely. As I prepared the north side of the house for paint touchup this afternoon, I found two praying mantises, about an inch long, thin as ichneumans, running across the siding.
2012: Robins and starlings taking care of fledglings through the morning and afternoon, cardinals calling all day, and at dusk. Five squirrels squabbling over a hole in the box elder tree at the back of the house. Along Dayton Street, Peggy’s Russian sage is blooming now, probably about a week since it started. Midseason hostas (which often bloom just after July 4th, have budded. Apples half size in the alley. Only a few of Don’s pie cherries are left, very dark red. In the yard, the yucca holds at late full bloom. Half a dozen dahlias have opened so far, and the zinnias are at about a full dozen. Along Dayton-Yellow Springs Road, most of the thistle blossoms have turned to down.
2014: The yellow (rebloomer) daylilies in the circle garden are just starting to come in. Along Dayton Street, the serviceberries are turning red at about the same rate as the pie cherries. Several hosta, large and small, budded, one ready to open. Queen Anne’s lace also budding. I continue to transplant zinnias and lilies into the circle garden.
2015: A little after sunrise, the sparrows came flocking to the feeder, at least two dozen, chirping and chirping. Has the time of pairing come to an end so soon? The beetles in the phlox and primroses have been checked by the dusting I gave them two days ago; now to see if the plants recover and flower. The far-west, deep orange daylily bloomed overnight, two of the huge Orientals in the north garden by the peach tree, and another pale yellow rebloomer in the circle garden. Nine different patches of lilies starting to come in now: the count begins. The great blue hosta buds are ready to open at the northwest corner of the house. The surviving two hibiscus plants, one on each side of the porch, are a couple feet tall. The scraggly amaranth patch near the pond is finally filling in, could end up being lush and beautiful.
2016: Large camel cricket in the tub this morning. At least fifty lily blossoms this morning, another pink and violet day lily, numerous stella d’oros, at least a dozen ditch lilies. The penstemon was about gone this morning (still strong in some village gardens), and the insects had returned to the phlox despite the dusting. Riding to Jill’s on Davis Street, I looked up to see black walnuts the size of cherries – reminding me that I had seen buckeyes a little bigger than that a few days ago. And I saw the first yucca opening, early white campion open. Along Greene Street, cottonwood cotton in the street, tucked against the curbs by the wind. Yesterday, a catalpa tree by the Xenia bike path was still in full bloom, but all the catalpas in Yellow Springs have dropped their flowers. Fireflies abundant in the back yard tonight, the air humid and warm.
2017: Storms circling. Forty stella d’oro blossoms, seven Asiatics. Half a dozen small bumble bees working the spiderwort this morning.
In such moments, as today’s, when you’ve been called upon to map an hour of time, you must remember that everyone else is here in the city with you,. There is no one flying overhead looking to rescue you, or orient you, or to later provide you with a map of an aerial view. There is no one to make a note of it if you give up and remain lost. You are the witness. You.
Bonnie Nadzam, “Cartography”