The 208th Day of the Year
If we see Nature as pausing, immediately all mortifies and decays; but seen as progressing, she is beautiful.
Henry David Thoreau
Day’s Length: 14 hours 25 minutes
Average High/Low: 85/65
Average Temperature: 75
Record High: 104 – 1901
Record Low: 47 – 1911
Today is one of four July days on which there is only a 20 percent chance of a high above 90 degrees. Temperatures in the 80s can be expected 65 percent of the time. Seventies come on just 15 percent of the afternoons. Rainfall often continues to lighten as the month comes to a close; a typical July 27th has a 30 percent chance of precipitation, 30 percent chance of completely cloudy skies.
Soft violet resurrection lilies begin their season as most other garden lilies disappear. The blooming of white snakeroot, blue dayflowers, prairie dock and tall coneflowers signals the approach of August.
1981: Chirping field crickets heard in town tonight for the first time.
1982: Day lilies almost all gone. First fall crickets sang tonight.
1985: Day lilies about done for the year.
1987: Cardinal wakes me up at 4:55. Katydids begin to call about half an hour past sundown.
1988: Birds still loud in the morning, cardinal wakes me up, crows moving through the neighborhood, grackles and starlings in the locusts.
1989: Cardinal woke me up at 4:55 — the same minute as this date in 1987. Caesar’s Creek: American lotus is full bloom. First arrowhead in flower, and mad dog skullcap, Scutellaria lateriflora, full bloom on a log. Day lilies are almost gone in the yard.
1993: First city crickets, first katydids full force tonight. I heard the first “katy” this morning at around 3:00 outside my window. Then as I walked the dog before bed tonight, there was no hesitation: full-fledged katydids up and down the block.
1997: The first morning for the four new koi in our pond; they are shy, hiding among the rocks, skittish at the slightest sound or movement. In the south garden, I found two resurrection lilies coming up, the tallest maybe eighteen inches, the second half as big. A sultry heavy day, starting out at almost 80 degrees. In the north garden, the Mexican sunflowers began to bloom last week; this morning there are four of their bright orange blossoms. The cicadas were calling by 8:00 a.m. I felt immersed in Deep Summer, safe in foliage and sun.
2000: The very last of the day lilies today in the north garden. Only tiger Turk’s cap Oriental lilies are left; in the village, Resurrection lilies continue at full bloom. And phlox and all the coneflowers. This morning from 5:00, plenty of cardinals, a few crows and doves. Japanese beetles return with hot humid weather, decimate the few blooming roses. The beetles’ behavior seems linked to the level of humidity and heat in the middle 80s.
2001: Cardinal at 4:41 this morning, and again at 4:50, then silence. No chorus of robins. Screech owl at 5:00, an eerie autumnal sound. Then increase of cardinals, then squirrels.
2002: Only a handful of lilies left. They have a five or six week season starting about the second week of June, peaking near the 4th of July, ending in the last week of July. First arrowhead flower in the pond.
2003: Warm and overcast, barometer dropping: No birdsong at 4:15 or 4:45. Only a distant robin clucking and a faint cardinal at 5:00. Two yellow tiger swallowtails in the garden again by 8:00.
2006: The weather has been hot, and it has been raining since yesterday evening. Walking Bella about 9:30 tonight, I heard katydids strong all around me for the first time this summer. The first whistling crickets and the first chanting crickets were calling, too.
2007: Blue jay parents and their babies continue to come to the bird feeder. One baby seen fluttering its wings, begging. The first two giant red hibiscus opened at the north end of the porch this morning. What I thought were berries on the euonymus are actually flower buds; they have just started to bloom.
2008: Yellow Springs to Madison, Wisconsin. Highs in the 80s, humid, cirrus and alto stratus clouds. Roads full of potholes and decay, signs of the weakening infrastructure. The most lush fields I have ever seen, the corn tall and tasseled from home all the way, 500 miles to Madison, no signs of drought anywhere. Deep green soybeans, some fields of cut-over wheat all brown.
We left the garden at home still in full flower, lilies, mallow, Joe Pye, roses, heliopsis, coneflowers, phlox, Across Ohio, Indiana and southern Illinois: Queen Anne’s lace everywhere, chicory in Ohio, birdsfoot trefoil throughout, white sweet clover northern Illinois to Wisconsin. One flock of crows seen in a cut-over wheat field. A small flock of grackles or starlings noticed. One nesting red-winged blackbird. Four monarch butterflies seen, one of them stuck to the windshield as I drove along; when I stopped and took it off, it fell down, then recovered and flew off south. Mosquitoes dense in Madison, and aggressive. Some lightning bugs there. On this date in 1860, Thoreau noted “very great flocks of young red-wing black birds.”
2009: First two giant red hibiscus flowers opened at the north end of the porch overnight. A full row of resurrection lilies seen along Elm Street.
2010: A day full of swallowtails at the butterfly bush, four tiger swallowtails all together, and then a zebra swallowtail – much more vital and quick later on in the day. Very first ripe raspberry from the plants we started last spring. It looks like breakfast raspberries will be ready to pick in a week to ten days.
2011: One large spicebush and one yellow tiger at the butterfly bush today. Cardinals sang for full hour this morning, beginning around 4:45. Nothing but screaming cicadas when I walked Bella after breakfast. Leafturn has begun with scattered cottonwoods and locusts with yellowing, some rusting on our apple tree. Walk at 8:00 p.m., steady screeching of the crickets, then some katydids at 8:15 and a more melodious, higher intermittent cricket song. No bird vespers now that the insects have taken over the evening. Fireflies still fairly common.
2012: The robin and cardinal chorus was underway when I went out a little after 5:00 this morning. Strong robin vespers this evening.
2013: A cardinal, singing steadily, woke me up at 5:00 this morning, light rain, hummingbirds feeding after sunrise, peach leaves yellow, fallen in the north yard. Many male tiger swallowtails and skippers in the butterfly bushes today, even one giant swallowtail on the new red hibiscus blossom.
2014: Eighteen lilies in bloom today, including the two Star Gazers for Jeanie’s corner. At the gate, the first jumpseed flower emerged. Cabbage whites more common now, one painted lady (Cynthia) butterfly seen in the north garden. I went back to the park and found the Triphora still in bloom. After sundown, fireflies still flying in the dark.
2015: Humid, warm and overcast: At 4:55 this morning, cardinals sang hard through the neighborhood. Even though there 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.
2016: Five lily blossoms on five plants scattered around the yard. A male tiger swallowtail at the zinnias this morning. A male tiger and a giant swallowtail together in the zinnias this afternoon. A few golden fold-wing butterflies are still around, a few cabbage whites. Only a few fireflies tonight, katydids boisterous.
2017: Five lily blossoms on three plants. One spicebush swallowtail and a zebra swallowtail, one silver-spotted skipper and two golden fold wing skippers seen today.
2018: Ten lily blossoms this morning. First cardinal at 4:40 a.m., then cardinal calling back and forth through the neighborhood until 5:20 when the stopped. It was light enough for me then to make out the first hummingbird at the feeder. During that period, I watched the colors appear in the circle garden: first the yellow zinnias, then the orange, then the pink, then the red. Crows called, then a high scream of a hawk at 5:40. A squirrel began to chatter at 5:50. I saw the first bee in the zinnias at 6:55. Song sparrow heard as I walked back from Jill’s about 7:30.
2019: Forty-two day lily blossoms today, only four ditch lilies. A red admiral seen in the canna lilies.
2020: Lily count: 38 day lily, two ditch lily blossoms. One checkerspot butterfly. After heat in the lower 90s, soaking rain in the evening, exciting the sparrows, wrens and cardinals almost to a feeding frenzy at the feeders. Earlier, a fledgling grackle pestered its parent for food.
Space has a spiritual equivalent and can heal what is divided and burdensome in us.