Make some shade. Plant a tree.
Trees make homes and food for wildlife, prevent erosion, produce oxygen and take in carbon dioxide.
On the Maryland Cooperative Extensions published list of native trees and shrubs, you can find out all sorts of fascinating facts, like: the silver maple is a popular shade tree; the wild crabapple is good for wildlife; the berries of the devils walking stick are great for animals but can poison humans; and the eastern red cedar repels moths.
Native trees need little maintenance, water or fertilizers that eventually wind up in the Bay. Both the Maryland Native Plant Society (www.mdflora.org) and the Maryland Cooperative Extension (800/342-2507) provide lists of native trees and shrubs for every physiographic region in the state.
The Tawes Garden at the Department of Natural Resources in Annapolis features a MaryLandscape of native plants. Lower Marlboro Nursery specializes in natives: 301/855-7654.
Native trees and shrubs are also available for planting on public lands by homeowners associations, environmental groups and schools through DNRs Tree-mendous Maryland program: 410/260-8531.
Go plant a tree. Then sit in its shade and reap its rewards.
22. Swim in Magical Luminescence
Treat yourself and a friend to a refreshing night swim in the Bay. As you glide through the cool water, youll likely see each other sparkle. This may seem like magic, but really its tiny organisms that live among the plankton. You can see them because they are so numerous and because they glow in the dark. Look for their magical glow on the crest of waves, in boat wakes and on you as you leave the night blackwater.
Take your swim soon before the jellyfish arrive.
23. Charter a Fishing Trip
What better way to learn about fishing than in a hands-on approach from a seasoned angler? Chartering is also a way for those who dont have boats to get on the Chesapeake Bay . Prices range upward from $250 for a half day and from $390 for a full day. That usually includes six fishermen so you can share the cost.
Many charter boats are called Six Packs because theyre limited to six fishermen, so dont on the spur of the moment invite a seventh unless you know the charter boat you have booked is licensed to carry more than six. The skipper cannot bend the rules; its a strict Coast Guard regulation.
When on a charter boat, pay attention. Observe and learn from what the captain and the mate (most charter boats have mates to assist you) does. Dont be afraid to ask questions, but dont ask for GPS locations when fish are found. Every skipper has favorate honey holes and wants to keep them a secret.
A charter trip or two will prepare you for fishing from your own boat, even if its a rag mop. Also, charter skippers know where fish are; they talk to each other and help each other. Chartering cant be beat for locating fish and youre the one to catch them.
Look over our regular editions. We carry ads for charter skippers in our area. Fleets of charter boats go out daily from Breezy Point, Chesapeake Beach, Deale, Solomons and other points in between and farther away.
Glenn James, president of Maryland Charter Boat Association (410/286-8990) recommends you look up the associations web page, which lists more than 300 charters, to find the one for you: www.marylandcharterboats.com.
To make sure you get all you hope for from your day on the water, ask friends to recommend captains theyve fished with and liked. We know from experience that not every boat is as comfortable (youll want a private head if women are in your party) or captain as pleasant as the top of the line.
Weekdays are the best bets, for theres less crowding at the fishing grounds.
When you make the call, ask what youll be fishing for (or you can express your preference) and how many fishermen can board (some smaller boats accommodate only four anglers). Ask what you should bring and what the captain supplies. Find out before you set out what youll do if you catch your limit of the fish of the day: Head for port or fish for other species.
Realize that when the skipper or fishing center stipulates a certain time, that is an order. Much fishing is planned on time of day and tide, and a skipper who starts out late because you are will not be a happy camper. Any problems en route, call ahead.
If you cant find five other people to fish with you, call to ask if make-up parties are available. These lump anglers like yourself together to fill the roster. Many a long-lasting friendship has been made this way.
If you like a crowd but hate planning, book passage on a head boat. Carrying up to 100 passengers, these fishing party boats will get you onto the water for a half day, a day and often a night with a fishing rod in your hand and bait for its hook. Try the Tom Hooker or Lady Hooker out of Rod n Reel (www.rodnreelinc.com); the Marcele out of Bunkys, at Solomons (410/326-3241) or Vamp IV out of Happy Harbor in Deale (301/725-0412).
24. Play it Safe on the Water
Do you really know what youre doing out there on the water? If you are the stand-on vessel in an overtaking situation, whats your best course? What if another powerboat is approaching yours head-on? Do you pass port-to-port or starboard-to-starboard? Do you know what type of lifejacket is required and how many?
Play it safe this summer. Its the law. Anyone born after July 1, 1972 and planning to pilot a vessel in Maryland waters is required by the state to take the Maryland Boater Safety Course sponsored by the Maryland Natural Resources Police. The course is 8 to 10 hours long and will familiarize you with all types of vessels and their safe operation, as well as weather and waterways information and state and federal regulations. Fees and schedules vary.
Starting classes are listed many weeks in Bay Weeklys 8 Days a Week. For more courses check out www.dnr.state.md.us/nrp/boatingsafetyedu.html or call 410/260-3280. The Natural Resources Police also sponsor free one-hour Water Wise Programs for kids.
Several websites also offer on-line courses and safety tips. Check out the U.S. Coast Guard website at www.uscgboating.org/saf/saf_course.asp. As you surf the web, remember this: The on-line courses will provide you with vital information, but they dont fulfill the states requirement.
25. NJFK: Go Fly a Kite
Mary Poppins friends Jane and Michael had the right idea. When you need to get away from it all, go fly a kite. The summers balmy breezes and the beachs open spaces provide just the right atmosphere.
If you dont have the pocket change to buy one, make a kite from several pages of an old newspaper. (Not Bay Weekly; use a paper with full-sized pages.) Youll also need two one-eighth inch dowel rods, or thin, sturdy sticks, about 22 inches and 24 inches in length, masking tape, kite string on a spool or stick and a rag for a tail.
Open four pages of newspaper on top of one another. Cut a kite shape out of the newspaper, about 20 across by 22 long. Tape masking tape around the edges to hold the pages together. Cross the dowels and tape them along the width and length of the paper. Tie kite string from top to bottom and from side to side, not too tight, so the wind can capture your kite. Tie the rag to the bottom, for stability. Tie one end of the rest of the kite string to the middle of the cross made by the other two strings and wrap the rest around a stick or spool.
Go fly your kite.
26. Catch a Baseball Game
Theres a swing, the crack of the bat, the spin of the ball, an outfielder racing back, a drive deep to left field, the smell of green grass, dirt, leather
a bloop single, the turn on a double play, a triple to the gap
a 3-2 change up, a pick-off at second, a relay to the plate
a hot summer day, a cold beer, a race to the pennant
fathers and sons, generation to generation, major league dreams
gone, a three-run home run.
As June turns to July, when basketball is over and football is not yet on the horizon, all eyes turn to baseball and the boys of summer. With the chill of spring gone, the pitches come a little faster, the bats crack a little louder and a long fly ball looks like it might float forever.
With a cold beer in one hand, a hot dog in the other and your buddy sitting next to you on a warm summer night, youll find life is better at the ballpark.
In Chesapeake Country your best catch is a Bowie Baysox game at Prince Georges Stadium, where youll see future Orioles take the field. With a kids park and carousel in right field, affordable tickets, a summer full of special promotions and theme nights including fireworks and between-inning shenanigans, theres family fun and memories to be made at this ballpark: 301/805-2233 www.baysox.com.
Talk major league, and were talking Orioles, even if they havent found their game since Cal Ripkin retired last season. Now that theyre playing like Baysox, for nearly the first time since Camden Yard opened, you can walk up the day of the game and buy tickets. At $8, bleacher seats with backs and leg room are a bargain with a great view: 410/685-9800 www.theorioles.com.
27. Listen to Local Music
Seeing Suzanne Vega at the Ramshead or catching the latest incarnation of Chicago at Calvert Marine Museum are events to remember, but theres something to be said for local musicians. You dont see Doug Segree and you dont catch the Lloyd Dobler Effect you just kick back with a bottle of beer and listen. Or, in the right place with the right band, you get up and dance.
Either way, the emphasis is on the music, not the personalities. It can even be fun to follow your favorite local performer from venue to venue, since loyalty to a local act never resembles the slavish devotion of, say, Phish fans.
There are plenty of local musicians to choose from. Check the Music Notes section of 8 Days a Week for performance dates.
28. Wait Until Dark
Summers biggest blockbuster plays every night right above your head, weather permitting. Unlike the box-office duds thrust at us this time every year by Hollywood producers, you know what you get and what to expect when viewing the heavens.
Still, there are always surprises for gazers at the night skies. Will the annual Perseid Meteor Shower of August boom or bust? Might some amateur astronomer spot another new asteroid passing through our solar system, like the recently discovered comet Ikeya-Zhang?
Some of these questions are answerable. For instance, the Perseids, which peak August 13, are expected to produce up to 60 shooting stars an hour despite interfering moonlight. And dont forget the Delta Aquarid Meteor Shower, which peaks July 29 and could deliver 20 or more meteors per hour.
But much of the pleasure in skywatching comes from the unknown or at least the uncertain as the attractions from night to night are often changing.
This year, for instance, there are few planets visible. Saturn has already left evening skies, soon to be followed by Mars and Jupiter and, toward summers end, by Venus. But just as the night sky grows empty of planets, they return to pre-dawn skies.
The same stars that our early ancestors observed and that gave stories life still shine overhead all summer long. See if you can find the Summer Triangle, a loose configuration of the brightest stars.
In todays electrified and illuminated world, even moonless skies and clear conditions demand as much as 30 to 40 minutes for our eyes to adjust to darkness, and adjustment can be spoiled with just a moments light those of passing headlights, for example. So give yourself time to appreciate the constellations, sights like the Milky Way and a planets intensity. If youre using a star chart to guide your gazing, use a red-lensed flashlight to preserve your night sight.
If you really want to get to know the stars and planets, start with a visit to a planetarium. Many full-scale observatories offer showings to the public. The U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C., opens its doors Mondays at 8pm (202/762-1467). The Arthur Storer Planetarium in Prince Frederick provides public viewings Mondays, starting at 8pm, all summer long (410/535-7339). In Baltimores Inner Harbor, stargazers can climb to the roof of the Maryland Science Centers Crosby-Ramsey Memorial Observatory Thursdays from 5:30-10pm (410/545-2999). Call ahead for viewing conditions and any last-minute changes in scheduling.
Wherever you are, keep your head up and dont forget the main attraction in the heavens each night.
29. Savor Summer Specialties: Make the Ice Cream of Your Dreams
There are few things better in life than ice cream. Were quite fond of many commercial ice creams and soft serves. But home-made ice cream? Its one of those things that when you first encounter, you think historys begun all over again.
The ingredients are what youd expect plus whatever your heart desires: heavy cream, skim milk, sugar (to taste is best), vanilla and any other ingredients you want fruit, chocolate, nuts, candy, cookies, coffee or any kind of tea, spices, syrups that add up to a fluid quart. The challenge is balancing the milk and cream so that your treat is smooth but not waxy.
|The basic proportions are:
1 tablespoon real vanilla
But some folks use equal amounts milk and cream, honey or maple syrup instead of sugar. For thickening, you can use three egg yolks instead of two eggs or stir a tablespoon or two of flour, corn starch or gelatin into the milk.
Beat sugar into eggs. Heat milk, almost to a boil, while stirring. Beat hot milk into eggs. Cool. Stir in cream, salt, vanilla and any flavorings. Pour into ice cream machine.
Using syrup? Add it after the ice cream begins to thicken to add sweet swirls.
To get started you need one piece of equipment: an ice cream maker. Simplest is the old-fashioned hand-crank model where your elbow grease combined with salt and ice creates a simple chemical reaction that freezes the flavored cream inside.
Older electric models rely on the same principle, saving you the work but still making a slushy mess as the salt melts the ice and the brine spills forth.
With either of these models, the turning gets harder as the cream ices. You have to taste now and then to know for sure when its ready.
Krups makes a clever little electric ice cream maker that uses a metal bowl that you put in the freezer the night before. You add your cream mixture, plug it in, and let it grind away. Half an hour later (plus about the same setting time in the fridge) eat ice cream.
30. NJFK: Eat Ice Cream
Ice cream can be made at home or bought at the store, but the best place to get it is an ice cream parlor as cold and bright as the inside of a refrigerator, the air sticky with the sweet smell of ice cream and waffle cones.
There are two kinds of cone besides the waffle, of course. The kind with flat bottoms are called cake cones, though they taste and feel more like Styrofoam than cake.
More appealing is the old-fashioned sugar cone. While the sheer mass and volume of the waffle cone which is essentially an overgrown sugar cone may be tempting to some, true ice cream connoisseurs know that no waffle cone can compare to the sublime taste and texture of a simple sugar cone.
Once the cone has been chosen, it is time to choose your ice cream. If at all possible, hold out for two scoops. While, on any decent summer day, most of that second scoop will end up all over your hands and lap, licking syrupy dribble from your fingers is one of the great joys of eating ice cream from a cone.
Another great joy is biting the end of a sugar cone away to suck out the sweet cream within. Waffle cones offer no such opportunity, as they are rarely sealed and tend to weep steadily while youre hard at work topside.
Cake cones, however, come into their own here. If you can stomach biting away the Styrofoam walls (you can always spit them out when no ones looking), the base of a cake cone forms an interesting, compartmentalized receptacle for ice cream drippings something like an ice-cube tray before it goes in the freezer. Sucking the juice from these compartments one by one can be a strangely satisfying experience, though perhaps not worth the bother of getting there in the first place.
Some connoisseurs insist on a smooth ice cream, like chocolate or vanilla, since these have no chunks of candy or cookie to clog up the end of the cone, but in truth the melting cream has little trouble dripping around such obstacles, and they can be quite a delight when you pop the last morsel of drained cone into your mouth and chew it up.
Ultimately the choice of cone and cream is yours to make. We offer only this admonishment enjoy your cones while they last, for once youve suffered through that horrible metamorphosis known only as growing up, you may be overcome by a mysterious compulsion to ask for your ice cream in a dish.