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Whippoorwill Says “Time to Plant Corn”

Yesterday evening I heard the first close whippoorwill of the 2021 season. Rob said he’d heard it the night before and wondered that it didn’t wake me up. And this week we “mowed” grass for the first time. But that’s not what you think.


Here’s How a Whippoorwill Looks

A whippoorwill painting
Louis Agassiz Fuertes – Birds of New York (New York State Museum. Memoir 12), Albany: University of the State of New York. Plates by Fuertes later reproduced in Birds of America (1917?) by Thomas Gilbert Pearson (1873-1943) et al. Public domain.

Whippoorwill Says “Time to Plant Corn”

An old-timer around here once told me it’s time to plant corn once the whippoorwill starts singing.

Before there was the internet, there were books that we turned to for references on how or when to do things.

And before there were books, there was knowledge handed down orally and hands-on taught by parents to children, and grandparents to grandchildren.

Native Americans recognized and responded to seasonal changes. The earth does a fine job of keeping time if you’re willing to read that sort of clock. They watched the moon phases and listened to nature’s clues, things like when the call of the season’s first whippoorwill occurred.

I’m not sure what the whippoorwill might have signified to pre-agricultural peoples, but I think at least it meant the possibility of frosts or freezes had likely passed for the season.

There are some residual ancient wisdom tidbits left in our modern world. Maybe the concept of knowing it’s time to plant corn when the whippoorwill sings stems from some of that early knowledge known to this country’s original inhabitants.

Season’s First Mow

Yesterday was the first time I’ve had to turn on the AC in the kitchen. It was also our first 90*F day of the season.

And, we mowed grass this week for the first time this year. Almost certainly that description of my activity has not brought to your mind what actually happens when I mow grass.

It would be more technically correct to say we weed-eated.

But even that won’t conjure the right image.

It’s most correct to say we “mowed” the lawn with the weed-eater.

That might create the proper vision.

Future Painting?

One day I’d like to paint a whippoorwill. But there are other birds waiting their turn already, so it might be a while. I’d like to paint the yellow-billed cuckoo once I’m finished with the great horned owl I’m working on currently.

Author/Artist Info
Madison Woods is a self-taught artist who moved to the Ozarks from south Louisiana in 2005. In 2018 she began experimenting with watercolor painting, using her local pigments. She calls them Paleo Paints, and her artwork features exclusively the lightfast pigments foraged from Madison county, Arkansas. Her inspiration is nature – the beauty, and the inherent cycle of life and death, destruction and regeneration.

Her online portfolio is at www.MadisonWoods.art.

Click here to join her mailing list.

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