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From Southern Wisconsin

Subtle signs are showing us what autumn will offer.  
Blooms, albeit individually tiny, of purple and gold abound. Coats and other animal armor warn us of colder temperatures gaining. Plant hitchhikers have begun drying their hooks and barbs to find new articles to hitch a ride.  
Entire fields, marshes, stream banks and prairies are telling drivers spotted Joe-Pye-weeds are blooming, as well as their cousins, white-flowered bonesets. Both plants are bloomers into September and have herbal interests dating back to Native Americans.  
The common names of some are unsure, but a Native American word, jopi, may be a clue, as well as a man who was poisoned and concocted a boneset antidote to save his life, and it did. Sprinkling boneset plant parts on human skin was expected to help heal broken bones, as well as a general cure-all.
Goldenrod flowers are small, but clustered, drawing our attention, but not our hypersensitivity, to pollen. Now showing are several tumor-like growths, some goldenrods. These may interest ice anglers.
Giant ragweed, now tall and blooming green, is much superior to cause noses and eyes to water.
Autumn is overwhelmed with sunflower family affiliates, of which goldenrod, boneset and Joe-Pye-weed are delegates, in spite of not having dinner plate-sized blooms.
Whitetails’ velvet dumping is nearing. Antler tips have become more pointed, no longer knobby on ends, suggesting growth is complete. Cervid-watchers believe this antler velvet detachment transpires within a 24-hour period and mainly at night.
Shrubs and saplings take the punishment of this upcoming shedding process.  Bark is stripped, meristems exposed, and sides of perennial plants are never the same, if they even live.  
Wisconsin’s elk are doing the same shedding later this month, however, those cervids announce their readiness to mate by their bugling loudly.  Whitetails, on the other hand, are much less blaring in announcing autumn.
Autumn outdoors seasons approach in the likes of ginseng digging, early teal hunting, early Canada goose hunting, hook and line sturgeon fishing and mourning dove hunting.  
Fall gathering continues with mushrooms, hickory nuts, walnuts, late soft fruits and apple picking for later on the calendar.  
Be warned, if you might, about a few remaining poisonous herbs and vines, including poison ivy, poison sumac, wild parsnip and a few nettles. Some waters, too, have microscopic toxic greens. Don’t let the names confuse because what was once algae, then blue-green algae, and now technically blue-green bacteria, are still the same dog-killing microorganisms.
Best noticed while driving 55 mph in lowland areas, white-flowered wild cucumbers are climbing about with tendrils and flimsy vines. Later these vines display parchment-colored, tulip-shaped pods coated with soft prickles, reminding us of a real garden cucumber pickling fruit. Most of the flowers are only pollen producers, so one must stop to see individual flowers that mature into decretive dry fruits.
With paper pads handy, write elm tree skeleton locations. Morel lovers are unlikely to remember many of those single trees, here and there, in valley and gulch.        
Garden cuisines continue peaking, sometimes drawing wild critters to enjoy tomatoes, shallow potato tubers and bean pods. Crop soybeans continue to top the list as deer salad, with developing pods and seeds adding to the fresh calories. Fawns, as well as adults, are enjoying easy picking this month.
Now, before the colors, temperatures and outdoors moods shout out autumn upon us, notice these subtle hints of its coming.

You may contact Jerry Davis, a freelance writer, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or 608-924-1112