50 Ways to Leave Your Summer
1. Pick Fall’s Fat Crabs
Crabs have been scarce all season, hard to catch and accordingly pricy. About this time of year, we usually get a bonanza.
In autumn, Callinectes sapidus are bigger, sweeter, cheaper and more plentiful. Buy a dozen or a bushel at a roadside stand or a seafood market (they’ll cook them for you) and invite your friends over. Or bring your crab hunger to a local crab house.
2. Visit Days of Olde at Maryland Renaissance Festival
Travel back in time to the courtly era of kings and queens, knights and princesses, villages and artisans, turkey legs, steak and cheesecake on a stake. Again this year, King Henry VIII and his then Queen, Catherine of Aragon, visit the 25-acre Revel Grove each weekend through October 20. 800-296-7304; www.rennfest.com.
3. Hook into Fall Fishing Frenzy
For anglers, THIS is the beginning of the best rockfishing of the year: Fall Frenzy. Shortening days and dropping temperatures mean fish bass: Eat up for winter. When the masses of baitfish and the famished rockfish meet up, there is a wild time to be had, especially for anglers.
A flock of wheeling, screaming sea-gulls is the most obvious indication of a rockfish-baitfish collision. Easing up to feeding schools of flashing, feeding stripers and casting lures directly into the melee will get you instant action.
4. Explore Fall Stars
With the change in seasons comes a new cast of characters in our darkened skies. Lingering through September, still high overhead, are the stars of the Summer Triangle, Deneb of Cygnus the Swan, Vega of Lyra the harp and Altair of Aquila the Eagle. In contrast, the stars of autumn are a dim lot — Aquarius, Pegasus, Pisces and Cetus — rising in the east and stretching above the southern horizon.
5. Say So Long to Our Osprey
Since St. Patrick’s Day, osprey have built their nests, mated, laid and hatched eggs, fed and fledged their chicks in our neighborhoods.
Now they’re leaving Chesapeake Country, so take a good last look.
Ahead for each bird is its own idiosyncratic migration of hundreds of miles, with an eventual destination of Central or South America. Along the way, many first-time migrators will succumb to predators, storms or hunger.
The surviving fledglings of 2013 will stay south until their third year. All the rest will fly back to their birthplace, guaranteeing us a return of osprey next spring.
6. Swap Gardens with Neighbors
Organize a day for friends and neighbors to dig and swap extra plants. Toast with summer’s last glass of lemonade and prepare to dig in again to get your planting done. Follow the Bay Gardener’s advice and give new plantings a good start in holes with lots of compost. Water after planting.
7. Fry a Batch of Fresh-Caught Fish
Few things in life are better than a pile of crispy fish heaped on yesterday’s newspaper in the center of a picnic table and surrounded by bowls of tartar sauce, malt vinegar, hot sauce, corn on the cob drenched with butter, fresh steamed string beans and ice-cold beverages from a cooler placed near at hand. Attended by a hastily assembled group to take advantage of your Bay bounty, such a gathering can provide memories that will warm a body through winter.
8. Catch a Football Game
Kids go back to school, leaves fall and football season begins anew.
Catch an early season game at your local high school and root for the up-and-coming athletes. Find game times and locations at www.viewmyschedule.com by typing in the name of your local school’s team.
Visit the Naval Academy’s 35,000-seat stadium and cheer on the Midshipmen: www.navysports.com/tickets/navy-tickets-m-footbl.html. Or wear terrapin red and head west to College Park, where a slew of loyal Terps fans pack the parking lot for hours in anticipation of every home game: http://bit.ly/1dTji0P.
9. Fare Well at Your County Fair
Ride the Ferris wheel. Pet a goat. Sip lemonade. See the county’s biggest cabbage. Admire a quilt. Call a hog. Call your husband. Eat a pie. Enter your home-brew or your famous orange marmalade cake.
Anne Arundel County Fair: Sept. 11-15 in Crownsville.
Calvert County Fair: Sept. 25-29 in Prince Frederick
10. Look Out for Spider Webs
Caught again! It’s that time of year when you can’t walk between two objects without twining yourself in some ambitious spider’s web. The silk is thick and sticky; worse, autumn spiders have grown big enough to mind being disturbed. So watch where you’re going. While you’re at it, watch the spider: both artist and artistry provide nature’s seasonal masterpieces.
11. Go Back to School
Imagine learning as a huge, foreign city. School children are allowed in the city only in the company of guides, who lead them on packaged tours of worthy sights. You, on the other hand, are free to visit at will, following whim, instinct, desire or chance. If you choose to go back to school this fall, go as an explorer.
Enter the byways and monuments of this strange, wonderful city via the catalogs (print and online) of colleges and community colleges — Anne Arundel Community College, St. John’s College, College of Southern Maryland; arts centers — Annmarie Garden, Chesapeake Arts Center, Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts; county recreation programs and resource and senior centers.
12. Hunt the Harvest Moon
Greet this year’s Harvest Moon as it rises at sunset September 18. Traditionally, farmers work late into the night by the light of this moon, which doesn’t set until after dawn the next morning. But there’s plenty of moon for you, too.
The Harvest Moon looks unusually large. This is a trick of the eye called the Moon Illusion. When overhead, the moon provides few cues to its distance, making it look smaller than normal. When against the horizon, other objects such as buildings and trees give us distance clues that the moon is much farther away, and we perceive it as being larger than normal.
13. Cook a Garden Meal
Start with a fresh salad. Your lettuce, green onions and radishes may be long gone, but you’ll find plenty of cucumbers, tomatoes and swelling onions. Toss with vinegar, oil and garden herbs.
For your main course, your garden offers eggplant; you make it Parmesan by layering the eggplant (browned or not) slices in a garden tomato sauce with onions, garlic, parsley, basil and oregano. Top each layer with mozzarella and parmesan cheese for a scrumptious blend.
Finish the meal off with apple pie.
14. Hit the Trail
Summer temps have hit the trail, so now it’s time for you to as well. Anne Arundel and Calvert counties both offer trails galore. Pack water and trail mix, good shoes or your wheels and helmet.
On Anne Arundel park trails, all forms of human powered transportation are welcome including walking, jogging, inline skating and skateboarding, cycling, electric wheelchairs and electric medical assistance devices. Horses may be welcome; check before riding in. Most trails are located from Annapolis north. In the south Jug Bay Wildlife Sanctuary offers excellent wooded walking trails: www.aacounty.org/RecParks/parks/trails/#.UhZbZI5D2lI
In Calvert, find county-managed walking and horse trails at www.co.cal.md.us/index.aspx?NID=1282. American Chestnut Land Trust also invites walkers, both human and dog, to its two fine trails: acltweb.org/explore/trails.cfm.
Research trails statewide at www.dnr.state.md.us/greenways/introduction.html.
15. Increase the Drama in Your Life
Fall is the season to bring drama inside, and local theater companies lead the way. Be there as the curtain rises to feel the energy of actors and actresses on that first night. Or wait until Bay Weekly reviewers Jane Elkin or Davina Grace Hill give you the skinny. This fall, you’ll see Dignity Players’ Art; Colonial Players’ Communicating Doors and Annie; 2nd Star Productions’ Little Shop of Horrors; Compass Rose Theatre’s The Sound of Music; AACC Theatre’s Tom Sawyer; Bowie Community Theater’s The Cover of Life; USNA Masqueraders’ The Importance of Being Earnest and more. Check 8 Days a Week for where and when.
16. Visit the Autumn Beach
Labor Day transforms your favorite beach, whether at the beach or on the ocean. The bikini-babes and boogie board bros have gone home to landlocked lives. Heat and humidity are a vague memory. The sand that burned your feet feels cool, the air smells clean. Above the lapping and crashing of waves, the calls of migrating birds carry the sound of distance.
Walking or reading, beach combing or daydreaming, you’re cheek to breeze with a different season.
17. Celebrate the Equinox
Summer and fall come to their crossroad at 4:44pm on September 22, with the autumnal equinox. On this day — as on the vernal equinox six months away — our hours are evenly divided between sunlight and darkness. It’s been celebrated as a harvest festival throughout the ages, often with the help of abundant wine, so you can get a little wild and blame it on tradition.
18. Lose Yourself in a Maze
Weave your way through the tall corn. If you are lucky, you’ll make it out.
• Greenstreet Gardens: Sept. 21 thru Oct. Rt. 258, Lothian: 410-867-9500; gardencentermd.com/events/corn-maze.
• Homestead Gardens: Sept. 28 thru Oct. 27. Davidsonville: 410-798-5000; www.homesteadgardens.com.
• Knightongale Farm: Weekends thru Oct.: 443-871-1073.
• Montpelier Farm: F-Su Sept. 7-Nov. 3, Upper Marlboro: 410-320-0464; www.montpelierfarms.com.
• Spider Hall Farm: Weekends Sept. 21-Oct. Prince Frederick: 410-610-0094; www.spiderhallfarm.com.
• Sunrise Farm: Weekends Sept. 14-Nov. 3. Gambrills: 410-923-0726; mdsunrisefarm.com; www.hauntedsunrise.com.
19. Eat an Apple a Day
Baked in pie, topped with streusel, juiced into cider or crunched for snacks, apples satisfy our fall fruit cravings. Maryland ranks 20th in U.S. apple growing, harvesting nearly one million bushels a year. Local apples are already in farmers markets; as autumn progresses, head to orchards to sample locally grown varieties. They’ll keep best refrigerated in a crisper drawer under a moist paper towel.
20. Paddle a Trail
Our water-privileged state is as rich in water as in land trails. Get an overview at www.baygateways.net/pubs/watertrailspdf.pdf. Among local water trails, the expansive Captain John Smith Trail offers many land and water opportunities: www.smithtrail.net. Or choose the Patuxent River Trail, which has been fully mapped; read all about it at bayweekly.com/old-site/year10/issue_25/lead_1.html. The detailed Patuxent Water Trail Guide/GPS-ready. Maps can now be ordered online at the store at http://www.paxriverkeeper.org/
21. Watch the Big Birds Fly In
Honk! Honk! Honk! Here come the geese in their nearly perfect V, our snowbirds, heralding the end of summer.
How birds migrate remains one of the mysteries of nature. Many fly thousands of miles, often over open ocean, using some combination of natural landmarks, sun and star positions to guide their journey.
Marvel at the geese and swans; they know something we don’t.
22. Make Room for Mums
Plant fall’s latest bloomer for your garden’s last colorful hurrah. Scour roadside stands, church bazaars and pick-your-own fields. Visit the celebration of mums each year at Doepkens’ Farm in Davidsonville, with a huge mum mural that blooms with different colors as autumn progresses. Can you figure out what’s pictured? Mum’s the word.
23. Bake an Apple Pie
Now that you’ve brought home apples, you’ll be needing ways to eat them. Here’s a classic apple pie recipe, with a healthier crust using oil and some whole-wheat flour. The family — even the neighborhood — will beat a path to your kitchen.
2-1⁄4 cups flour (for added fiber use 1 cup whole wheat flour)
1 teaspoon salt
3⁄4 cup vegetable oil
4 tablespoons water
8 cups tart apple slices (10 medium apples)
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1⁄4 teaspoon cloves
1⁄4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoon melted butter
To make one nine-inch pie, divide dough into half and roll to one-eighth-inch thickness. Poke bottom crust with a fork. Mix filling ingredients. Layer spiced apples in neatly, if you have the patience. Finish with top crust and poke with fork again. Cover edges with aluminum foil to avoid burning. Remove foil for last 20 minutes of baking. Bake at 400 degrees for 60 minutes.
24. Have It à La Mode
Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream
3 cups heavy cream
1 3⁄4 cup whole milk
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
Mix, pour into ice cream maker and churn. Scoop onto warm pie.
25. Capture the Last Roses of Summer
Gather full-blown roses when they start to lose their petals. Add a handful of petals to a wide-mouth jar, then sprinkle with a tablespoon of kosher salt. Add more petals and more salt, for a total of two cups. Keep layering petals and salt until the jar is half full. Cover lightly and let sit four weeks. Finally, stir in one-half cup cinnamon and one-quarter cup cloves.
Punch a few holes in the lid of the jar to allow the fragrance to escape. Stir the mixture gently to release the odor. Your potpourri will save your roses’ fragrance for years.
26. Tug Mightily
Pull with all your might at the 16th Annual Tug of War between Annapolis and the Maritime Republic of Eastport Saturday, November 2 at the crack o’ noon. Organize a team or join an existing one: Tug meeting is Monday, Sept. 23. You’ll support local charities by tugging or cheering: www.themre.org.
27. Track Fall Migrations
Mass exoduses moving through our area include marbled salamanders traveling 100 miles south, Baltimore orioles traveling 1,760 miles to the western U.S., monarch butterflies and indigo buntings traveling 2,000 miles to Mexico or the West Indies, and purple martins traveling 5,000 miles to South America.
28. Plant Spring Bulbs
Remember your satisfaction at the sight of daffodils bobbing their yellow heads in the early spring breeze? Plant now, and these harbingers of renewal will greet you next year — and for years to come. Buy the biggest bulbs you can find. Dig deep holes and add plenty of compost. The top of bulbs should be at least eight inches from the surface. Cluster tulip bulbs in for best effect, but keep about four inches between bulb clusters of daffodils.
29. To Spice up Your Life Next Summer, Plant Garlic and Onions Now
Get garlic and onion bulbs in the ground between mid-October and the first frost. Give each clove or bulb its own deep hole and plenty of compost, with six to eight inches between holes. Feed with compost once more this fall and a couple of times in spring. For fall planting, select only short-day onions that form bulbs when daylight lasts less than 10 hours. You’ll have green onions all winter, then bulbs to harvest midsummer.
30. Slide into Oyster Season
Maryland’s six-month oyster season opens October 1. After years of declining harvests, there’s hope that Crassostrea Virginica, our native oyster, will again flourish in Chesapeake waters. Watermen continue to harvest oysters in the wild, but sanctuaries — replenished by oysters gardened by hundreds of Marylanders — give the hard-pressed mollusks room to groove and grow. Every oyster means a cleaner Bay, filtering 50 gallons of water a day and hosting multi-species marine communities.
31. Stop Wishing; Start Boating
If the boating life is for you, fall’s the season to buy, for two reasons. First, you’ve months of fine boating weather ahead, no matter what kind of craft you covet.
Second, prices are at their lowest.
At the U.S. Powerboat (Oct. 3-6) and Sailboat (Oct. 10-14) Shows, you’ll see hundreds of new boats, plus canoes, kayaks and zodiacs. If you resist, you’ve got all winter to learn about your dream boat. But if you do buy now, you’ve got three or four more months out on the water.
32. Plant a Tree
One acre of trees can absorb as much carbon dioxide as a car emits in 26,000 miles. Trees are all-around good guys: keeping the Bay healthy by slowing runoff; shading and cooling our homes; cleaning our water and air by absorbing harmful pollutants; protecting soil by holding it in place and adding nutrients; providing habitat for too many animals to count. For all those blessings and colorful autumns, plant now. Learn how to plant a tree at www.americanforests.org.
33. Bring Your Garden In
Don’t wait until the night before the first frost, around Oct. 11, to bring in your potted plants. You have a dirty job, and plants prefer a gradual transition to indoor living.
First, remove plants from pots and shake off old soil. Repot in larger containers if needed using a fresh mixture of one-third each compost, potting soil and perlite. Hose them down thoroughly to both water and spray away spiders and pests.
When well dry, place them where they’ll receive plenty of light. Keep away from direct air conditioning or heat sources. Water thoroughly when the soil feels dry. Fertilize monthly.
34. Shed a Few Pounds
Pull out your walking shoes and take a two-mile walk. Or a run. Or a kayak trip. No more excuses that it’s too hot or too muggy. The holidays are just around the corner. The pound you gain between Thanksgiving and New Year’s could be yours forever. Save yourself now.
35. Go Wine Tasting
Mid-September through October is harvest time in Maryland, when sugar levels in grapes are prime. Maryland’s 62 wineries often host wine tastings, winery tours, vineyard tours and picnic areas for guests. Scoop out the eight Southern Maryland wineries on the Patuxent Wine Trail at www.marylandwine.com/wine-trails-interior/Patuxent-Wine-Trail. Maryland is a flourishing wine state with five other trails. Find them all at www.marylandwine.com.
36. Have Fun with Fall Foliage
Autumn leaves demand your attention. Here are 10 ways to enjoy them while you can:
• Collect and press leaves.
• Tie dried leaves with strings and hang in a window to create leafy shadow-catchers.
• Fill a bowl with oak leaves, twigs and acorns for a natural fall decoration.
• Scent your drawers by placing gathered spicebush (lindera benzoin) leaves under a paper shelf liner.
• Grind your own filé powder for a winter gumbo by pulverizing dried sassafras leaves in a blender.
• Rub a leaf with a fabric crayon. Place crayon side down on fabric, cover with a cloth and press. Remove leaf and embroider fabric leaf print with fun fall colors.
• Glue leaves to a plain Halloween mask and wear to become the Green Man or Woman of the forest.
• Create a leafy Thanksgiving tablecloth by taping leaves onto a plain cloth.
• Sit under a tree and watch the leaves wave good-bye to summer.
• Throw a leaf-jumping party alone, with your dog or with a friend.
37. Celebrate Oktoberfest
In Bavarian tradition, October demands a festival, lots of beer, plenty of hearty food, good cheer and a band. Get a head start on Oktoberfest in West Annapolis on Sunday, September 23, then Honey’s Harvest Oktoberfest Biergarten Friday, September 27. Continue the festivities through October at the Old Stein Inn in Edgewater, Germany’s outpost in Maryland.
38. Find the Great Pumpkin
Halloween rises from the local pumpkin patch. At some patches, you can cut your pumpkin from the vine. Others arrange pumpkins in fields. Still others stock pumpkins on shelves and bins. In most patches, choices range from giants two of you will have to carry home to tiny Jack-be-littles.
39. Carve a Jack-o-Lantern
To transform your innocent pumpkin into a scary Jack-o-Lantern, you’ll need a butcher knife and a paring knife, a big spoon for scraping and a pot for scraps and innards. Maybe you’ll want a pattern. Draw your own on paper, or look up a book in the library ahead of time. But plain old triangle eyes and checkerboard mouth are just fine. Scalp your pumpkin; then scrape him. Choose your carving side. Draw a face with markers. Then carve away, carefully. If you plan a pumpkin-carving party, the fun multiplies.
40. Suit Up for Halloween
A great costume turns all the typical witches, ghosts and princesses green with ghoul-ish envy. Great ideas for you or your kids are lurking everywhere: in local figures, commercials, or even a good play on words.
Sign up to sew a costume with Anne Arundel County Department of Recreation and Parks: www.aacounty.org/recparks.
41. Don’t Forget Fido
Dress up your dog in the costume that expresses his or her ego. Make your wiener dog a wiener. Your Lab a Budweiser Clydesdale. Your Saint Bernard Sherlock Holmes. Then compete for prizes in the best costume contest at the Howl-O-Ween Barkn’ Bash costume competition that’s part of the Bark ’N’ Dash 5K, Family Dog Walk and Tail Wagger Trot for Kids Sa Oct. 26 at Quiet Waters Park: 410-222-1777; www.aacounty.org/recparks/parks/quietwaters
42. Roast the Seeds
As you prepare your pumpkin for carving, pick out the seeds and put them into a strainer. Rinse. Some recipes advise boiling in salted water for 10 minutes. Either way, spread the seeds on a cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil or butter and sprinkle with salt or seasonings sweet or savory. Roast them in the oven for 10 minutes at 300 degrees, stir, then roast for another 10 minutes or until crisp.
43. Cook Pumpkin Delights
Pumpkins and other winter squash are delicious as well as entertaining. Steam your pumpkin or roast it for more intense flavor. Slip off the skin and mash or blend. Use the meat for pumpkin bread, butter, soup, ravioli filling, pie or cheesecake. A whole pumpkin raw or half roasted (it needs to stand up) makes a festive serving bowl. Fill it with stew that includes summer and winter squash; soup; or mashed squash or sweet potatoes.
44. Read a Spooky Story
Nobody did scares better than the father of modern dramatic suspense, Edgar Allen Poe, 1809-1849, who lived for many years and died in Baltimore. Poe invented the detective tale in “Murders in the Rue Morgue” (1841). But for sheer terror, no story ever told beats “The Telltale Heart.” Now’s the time to read, or reread, it — in the dark of night.