The Daybook for the Year in Yellow Springs
The 168th Day of the Year
Trompin’ home acrost the fields: Lightnin’-bugs a blinkin’
In the wheat like sparks o’things a feller keeps a think-in.
James Whitcomb Riley
Day’s Length: 15 hours
Average Hi/Lo: 82/61
Average Temperature: 72
Record High: 96 – 1936
Record Low: 43 – 1899
This is generally a mild day with a good chance for a high in the cool 70s, the second greatest chance (50 percent) all month. Eighties come 40 percent of the time, 90s ten percent. Rain falls just one year in five on this date, and the sun appears nine years in a decade.
Now mulberries, plump and sweet, fill the last days of early summer. It’s high noon of the year, the peak of black raspberry season, goose molting season, the commencement of corn borer season, the center of timothy season, the end of asparagus and rhubarb season, the first of sweet-corn-tassel season.
Delphinus follows Cygnus in the east after 10:00 p.m., Altair, the bright star of Aquila shining below them. Just ahead of Cygnus, Vega leads the Milky Way west. Overhead, Arcturus moves into the western half of the sky, the Corona Borealis coming in to take its place. Libra lies due south, July’s Scorpius right behind it.
Early risers see the sky the way it will look on a late September night: the Milky Way overhead, the Great Square covering most of the southeast, huge Cygnus shifting west, following bright Vega. June’s Corona Borealis will be setting now, and the first sign of winter, Aldebaran of the constellation Taurus, will have just emerged in the northeast.
1982: First red berries noticed on the honeysuckle.
1983: First Queen Anne’s lace seen on Dayton Street. Strawberries coming in steadily. First black raspberry.
1984: Panicled dogwood blooms on King Street. A few last bleeding hearts remain. First small dish of black raspberries. First sow thistle blooming. Purple cow vetch open now.
1986: Mullein and pokeweed bloomed today in the yard. First yucca opened in the village. A question mark butterfly, wings stretched out to the sun, sat on the garden wall. There are two or three generations of that species born each summer; this is one of the first. At Jacoby, the first leafcup has opened, first dogbane and black-eyed Susan seen. Deptford pink found. Enchanter’s nightshade was budding. The great skunk cabbage, so lush and heavy a month ago, was weathered, eaten by insects. Watercress sprawling, pale, in the pools. Old yellow garlic mustard colored the woods floor. Avens full bloom in the sun.
1989: Catalpas still keep their flowers. Chicory open in places. Only one or two fireflies. Blueweed and feverfew noticed in full bloom.
1990: The last of the strawberry crop at home.
1991: Caesar Creek: Today a blue butterfly followed me, sat on my hand, two small orange spots on its exterior wings, one orange spot on the inner edge. Only a few of the red periodic cicadas were left. I saved one from the water about 2:30. Large pink wild roses were in full bloom at my fishing hole.
1992: First black raspberry and last strawberry eaten. The front garden changing: astilbe has its color now, the blue veronicas are coming in, the purple coneflower three feet tall and budding. In the south garden, the coreopsis are all open, solid gold, the red-orange lychnis full beside them, mallow tall and budding, balloon flowers, zinnias, and gay feathers budding. The first cosmos opened completely. The first lilies are opening along the north hedge. In the village, catalpas still hold.
1993: All strawberries gone, first black raspberry reddening.
1995: Rawlins, Wyoming north to Yellowstone Park in the northwest corner of Wyoming: Lilacs and iris seen blooming at 6,100 feet in Lander. Fields of dandelions appeared between 7,000 and 7,600 feet, the higher the elevation, the better the April Yellow Springs bloom. Blue upland larkspur common at 7,000 feet and above. At a rest stop, 7,800 feet, heartleaf arnica found, like a yellow bloodroot. Small-flowered buttercup here too, and my first scarlet globe mallow. Wild strawberries blooming at the lodge in Yellowstone. All around the park, huge yellow sunflower-like flowers on a short plant with big leaves: mule’s ear wyethia.
1998: Astilbe has lost its color quickly. Flickers and blue jays calling. Cardinals and doves still sing before dawn. I am getting up too late to check the morning robin chorus.
1999: Asticou Gardens, Maine: Azaleas lingering, rhododendrons already gone. Columbine, forget-me-not, pink spirea starting, delicate cutleaf Stephanadra incisa, blue speedwell, white water lily, the end of the thin-leafed red bleeding heart. Coral bells in bloom. At Jordon Pond, yellow loosestrife, lysimachia and blue baptisia.
2001: First mallow shows pink. First buds on the gooseneck. Last year’s parsley gone to seed. Francis William hosta and great blue hosta come into bloom.
2002: Arrowhead leaves are starting to form at the edge of the pond.
2003: More lilies starting: a pink one on the west end of the garden, another orange on the east end.
2004: Periodic cicadas are still calling but are dying in greater numbers now along the bike path. In the north garden, the mid-season hostas are budding, the August Moon hosta has bloomed, the Joe Pye is heading. Maybe this year – because of the heat and rain, and the plants being at least a week ahead of schedule – the annual cicadas will come out just as the periodic cicadas all die off. First chigger bites in the garden.
2006: Tree of heaven is in full bloom throughout town, dropping flowers, spreading pollen. Yesterday, the first of the pale yellow Asiatic lilies opened. A few serviceberries noticed, some red, some black. On the high branches of the spruce trees in the alley, pine cones about five inches long. Panicled dogwood flowers gone.
2007: No Japanese beetles or chiggers yet. Yarrow full. Primrose completely gone. Full oak-leaf hydrangea, lizard’s tail and great blue hosta. A few monarda plants becoming red at the top. Purple coneflowers gathering momentum, green-eyed Susans full bloom and strong. Yuccas full bloom in Xenia. Parsnips still golden in the fields along the bike path. First earwig seen yesterday. A monarch butterfly came to the garden at noon. Japanese honeysuckle still fragrant. Great mullein flowering in Fairborn, hemlock going to seed quickly in the roadsides.
2010: Trumpet creeper vines in full bloom throughout town and countryside. The wheat is a deep gold along Grinnell Road. First brown butterfly and another admiral seen today.
2011: Cardinals, doves, robins, jays, sparrows, grackles through the morning. One skipper, one hackberry brown, one hummingbird by 9:00 a.m.
2012: Soft rain shower at 7:30 this morning, the air thick and warm. Highs in the 90s forecast for today and every day of the week ahead. In the evening, some standing water at Don’s yard after several thunder storms passed through. At Peggy’s, early purple coneflowers parallel the bloom of early Russian sage. Lamb’s ear there is holding but getting old. In the countryside, black-eyed Susans common, thistledown increasing from the Canadian thistles, but bull thistles are still pink. Clustered bellflowers disappearing quickly. In the roadsides, all the hemlock pale and gone to seed, the hemlock perhaps as good a marker as any of the end of early summer. From Madison, Wisconsin, Tat says here monarda is in, and all her lilies in bloom – evidence that the warm year has treated Wisconsin like it has treated Ohio.
2013: Spoleto: Walk down the bikepath for three hours: gallium verum (rubiacee); cirsium vulgare (composite) and silybum marianum gaerti (composite) positively identified, most plants gone to seed; scarlet pimpernel (annagallis arvensis) found, some with orange flowers, some with blue, a similar, purple flower found on a plant with alternate, toothed leaves, similar to wild geranium leaves; chicory and burdock found, not blooming; sweet pea and an early variety of virgin’s bower climbing and flowering through the undergrowth; curly dock full of orange seeds; two real dandelions; coriander: other unidentified flowers: a summer cress with four white petals and alternate toothed leaves; soft violet puff ball flowers, about an inch across, leaves short, alternate, slightly toothed; small daisy-like composite with thin, string-like leaves; yellow composite with large center, short petals, basal leaves only; tall (three feet), prickly plant with five-petaled, pale violet flowers, alternate, pointed leaves – prickly like the stem, narrow pyramidal shape like a prickly foxglove.
2016: To Gethsemani near Louisville: Departing Yellow Springs at the height of ditch lily bloom, my plantings and all the plots around town coming in at once. The trumpet creeper that has climbed all across the porch and up to the roof of the greenhouse has bud clusters. The large hosta in the east garden has produced white flowers overnight. Across the countryside, some corn was neck-high. The orange ditch lilies at their peak remain a constant. Along the Kentucky highways, the wheat is no longer golden, there are many drifts of daisy fleabane in full flower, strips of white sweet clover, long rows of hemlock dying back (considerably ahead of southern Ohio), occasional black-eyed-Susans, a few blooming mimosa trees, and the two chestnut trees in the monastery enclosure full of starburst-like blossoms. Some wild daisies still in bloom here near the church.
2017: Stella d’oro lily blossoms and ditch lily blossoms tied at thrity-nine each. An abundance of fireflies tonight, the air warm and humid, a very light breeze.
I sense the adequacy of the world, and believe that everything I need is here. I do not strain after ambition or heaven. I feel no dependence on tomorrow. I do not long to travel to Italy or Japan, but only across the river or up the hill into the woods.
High noon for summer:
clovers and vetches,
bindweeds and sweet peas,
trumpet vines, chicory,
mullein and thistles,
honewort and fire pink,
parsnips and mint .