August brings the peak of summer in western Oregon. Most days are long and skies cloudless. High heat is not always appreciated by humans, but vegetables in a well-watered garden move into high gear. Pole beans planted after the sugar snap peas had been pulled are now producing or will start soon. A five-foot-wide trellis will give an evening’s meal every other day until October.
Hiking in the mountains in early August will likely have fewer mosquitoes than usual in past years. Snow-melt ponds where mosquitoes breed will dry out faster. Hot, dry weather caused by global warming is the reason. The downside is that a severe fire season is looming, likely to be as bad as ever. Everybody should be alert and careful with fires, avoiding big campfires away from fire pits in designated campgrounds. Use camp stoves. Cook small meals. Pack those empty canisters out!
My birthday in the middle of the month is a signal to be ready for the blackberry season. The non-native Armenian (Himalayan) wild blackberries are a nuisance in pastures and backyards. The berries, however, are produced in large quantities, easy to pick and tasty as any. Seek out the juicy ones close to ponds and riverbanks.
Be sure to maintain watering places for birds in homes with bird feeders. Water sources can be scarce in urban areas. Little birds will particularly appreciate fountains. Running water seems to attract them more readily than birdbaths with shallow water.
David Wagner is a botanist who works in Eugene. He teaches moss classes, leads nature walks and makes nature calendars. He can be contacted through his website, fernzenmosses.com.