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Summer Can Be Too Hot; Winter Can Be Too Cold

Autumn is just right 

       If Rip Van Winkle jolted awake one afternoon to the long shirring sound of competing orchestras, he’d know where in time — if not in place — he found himself. For the dog-day cicadas begin their percussive polyphony only when it’s good and hot. From summer’s height, they’ll sing the season out, continuing until a frost ends their short lease on life. 
       Insects are accurate meteorologists, though not all are so welcome as the song-full cicadas. Flies make a misery of the late days of ­summer, taunting us with their aerial acrobatics. A trio of stinkbugs appeared on my screens on August’s last Friday, when it was too hot for any creature but a bug. 
       Why would swimming pools close before September got the message that summer was ending? Or schools open? Ten schools in Baltimore missed the first day of school because of sweltering temperatures.
       Summer 2018’s long list of 90-plus-degree days and 70-plus-degree nights make me yearn for autumn. I’m ready for a longer run of those cooler nights that had me drawing up a blanket in mid-August. Days with humidity so high that it hangs a curtain of haze make me long for the crystalline blue skies of a perfect September day.
       If giving up summer didn’t mean letting go of life’s good times, right about now I’d gladly let it go.
       To resolve that dilemma — how to keep the fun of summer while leaving behind its intemperate temperatures — Bay Weekly devotes this week to that perennial favorite special issue, 50 Ways to Leave Your Summer. Read it, and you’ll see that we can indeed have the best of both worlds. In these pages, calendar editor Kathy Knotts selects the high points of the season, from this very weekend all the way to November. 
       Fairs and festivals flourish this time of year when we can rejoice in being out of doors, with the lighter touch of sun on our skin and wind in our hair. 
       This time of year, Maryland shows off its cuisine, with tastes of four regions of Chesapeake Country starting this weekend and continuing through mid-October. Then church suppers and harvest dinners lead us into oyster season at the first of October. You’ll find festivals dedicated to oysters in Holland Point October 13, Shady Side October 21 and St. Mary’s County October 20 and 21.
       Wine and beer offer more good festive times in autumn, with Twist and Stout combining beer, wine and music September 29 at Quiet Waters Park. Any weekend through October 21, you can head to the Maryland Renaissance Festival for history steeped in mead and cider. 
      For the whole family, you can’t beat fall festival fun with corn mazes, pumpkin patches, hayrides and scares both tame and terrifying.
          Autumn has claim to being the best season for boating in Chesapeake Country. Test that for yourself when Hospice Cup sails on September 15, and Maryland’s famed skipjacks, now an endangered fleet, sail as they did in their heyday on the Choptank River September 22. 
       This is a good time for dreaming of buying your own boat, too, with Trawler Fest coming to Baltimore September 25 and the U.S. Sailboat and Power Boat Shows coming to Annapolis October 4 and 11. 
       Between the steaming days of summer and the howling days of winter, we’ve got two sweet autumnal months. With all the fun in 50 Ways to Leave Your Summer, I’m going to enjoy every day of them. I hope you will, too.