Summer 2002 

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61. Raise Bay Grasses and Oysters
Everybody’s doing it. From Essex to Broomes Island, students, staff from Maryland Department of Natural Resources and volunteers from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation have been planting grasses grown in classes.

Though planting season is at an end, volunteers are still needed to grow the grasses that provide habitat for many species, including the Bay’s blue crabs. Summer volunteers are also needed for groundtruthing, surveying underwater grasses by canoe or kayak. Bay grasses feed waterfowl and keep the water clean. The Bay has lost nearly 90 percent of its underwater grass acreage.

Maybe you prefer to try your hand at oyster gardening, the Bay Foundation’s program to restore oysters and their habitat. Oyster bars are home to fish, crabs and other guys that need crannies for hiding out or hanging on. Oysters are great water filters so they, too, help keep the Bay clean.

If these projects sound like fun, check out or call Heather Tuckfield at 410/268-8816. Groundtruthing workshops are scheduled for July 6, 10, 16 and 20. Oyster seed distribution happens on August 3 and September 21. Additional dates will be added, so check the volunteer calendar on the website for updates and locations.

“Most important,” says Geoff Oxnam of Chesapeake Bay Foundation, “get out and enjoy the resources.”

62. You Don’t Need a Boat to Go Fishing
Maybe your chances of catching are better from a boat, but fish don’t care whether you’re offering them a bait from a million-dollar sportsfisherman, a rowboat or a pier or the shoreline. If it’s tasty, they’ll take it.

Throughout the Chesapeake, there are fishing piers, private and public, old docks, shoreline, jetties — all kinds of structures from which you can cast. Your best chances are for white perch, spot, catfish and hardheads, but not infrequently you can be surprised by a bluefish, rockfish or sea trout. Even red and black drum and other prized species have been taken by landlocked anglers. Just be sure you have a fishing license.

Fish often come into shallow waters in chase of baitfish, so you’re well placed to fish from your own pier or that of a friend or neighbor. Among public piers are those at Matapeake Park on the upper Eastern Shore and the old Route 50 Bridge at Cambridge on the Choptank, which has been converted to a long public pier. It’s great for perch, hardheads, spot, catfish and crabs — sometimes rockfish and blues.

There’s a public pier on the Patuxent at Solomons, and one of the best in the east is the public pier at Point Lookout State Park. North Beach also has a fishing pier.

At Annapolis, fish from the old Severn River Bridge, where there’s a park with picnic tables for the family. There’s also Sandy Point State Park, where you can fish from the beach or from the south and north jetties. At Thomas Point Park, fish the rip-rap.

Farther north, fish Fort Smallwood Park at the end of Fort Smallwood Road at the mouth of the Patapsco. Where the old fort structure still stands, fish bite and the family can enjoy a shaded picnic. Higher still, there’s a busy catwalk at Conowingo Dam on the Susquehanna with a scenic view of that mighty river and its turbulent waters.

And there are others (many state parks have them), and all with enough water for fish to swim — so you to have a chance to catch them.

63. Name Nature’s Colors
How green is my valley? Let me count the ways.

Ask the color of a tree, and you’ll hear brown with green leaves. But is it? Look again. Tree bark can be black, gray, gray-brown, gray-green, white, red-brown and more. As you sit in the backyard, walk in the park or work in the garden, look again at the colors of nature. Look again at the trees. Look again at the plants and flowers.

How many different greens are there, and how can they be described? There’s green with a hint of yellow. Green that’s almost yellow. Green-blue and blue-green. And more, many more. The Crayola® crayons of childhood limited our choices and perhaps our perceptions. But you have only to use your eyes to discover the unlimited palette of nature.

Collect colors like a child. Collect colors as an entomologist collects bugs. As a bibliophile collects books, as a writer collects words. Match leaves to paint samples. Arrange your collection in groups of similarity or in a range from light to dark. When you are saturated with a hundred greens, relieve your eye with the reds, oranges, pinks and whites of flowers. With the blues of sky and the neutrals of sand. play the colors against the greens as nature does. Discover new harmonies and old favorites.

To take the study further, invest in a Color-aid® set from an art supply store. You’ll find a box of 158 colored papers (or a larger set of 314 colors) in 14 color groups to help you name and study colors and their combinations. You’ll find pure hues or combinations, tints, pastels and shades. You’ll find suggestions for experimenting with colors. By fall, you’ll be eager for an art course. All because of green and brown and …

64. Grow a Wildflower Bouquet
Nothing brightens a hazy summer day like a bouquet of fresh wildflowers from your yard. Reserve a large sunny spot for native flowers that will grow in abundance with little water and no chemical fertilizers to foul the Bay. Think the colors of the rainbow: red beebalm, orange butterflyweed, yellow black-eyed Susan and yarrow, green ferns, blue forget-me-nots, purple coneflower. What else do you like?

Daisies and daylilies, violets and verbena, asters and anemone. Gather them by the armful and bring them inside. Choose a vase with a large opening. Remove leaves and foliage that will foul the water. Clip the stems and promptly arrange them in cool water with tall flora in the center and shorter stems around the edges. Fill your rooms with summer meadows.

65. NJFK: Write and Illustrate Your Own Picture Book
Summertime reading lists may come from school, parents or the library, but you can write and illustrate your own books to add to those lists.

Take a trip to your local library and find three different picture books about a subject you’re interested in: weather or whales, mountains or myths, faraway places or long-ago times. Read the books at the library or check them out and take them home.

Figure out what you like best about the story: The illustrations? The words or rhymes? Something you learned?

Wondering what would happen next and how the story would end?

Then write a story of your own. Take a dozen pieces of plain white paper (construction or drawing paper works best for this). Stack them on top of each other and fold them in half. Now staple along the seam inside the fold. Your book is ready to write!

Tell the story on one side of the page and draw pictures on the other. Use watercolors to wash summertime into your story, or smudge pastels into the colors of the sea. Use crayons, magic marker or finger paint. Decorate the pages with feathers, flower petals or leaves. Cut out pictures from magazines and glue them into your book. Having trouble drawing a monkey or zebra? Tape animal crackers to the paper. Use glitter for sand and stars.

When you’re all done, tie a ribbon around it, and share your new book with a friend

66. Bowl
When the heat outside is like a prison warden keeping your kids from leaving the house, and when that house seems as small as a jail cell, it's time to break out and take the family bowling. America's greatest participatory sport, bowling is perfect for beating Bay Country's summer hallmarks, heat and humidity.

Like hermetically sealed chambers, bowling alleys must keep the temperature cool and constant and the humidity near zero, else wise those shiny, wooden lanes are liable to wear and warp.

And in a world where ticking clocks add up to mounting bills, bowling is economically charged per frame, whether you're tearing through 10 rounds in 10 minutes or taking your time. Make a day of it and lunch or dinner at the snack bar. Better yet, many bowling alleys sport pool tables, video games and more.

In Anne Arundel County: Annapolis Bowl, 410/266-0700; Crofton Bowling Center, 410/721-2401; Calvert County (Prince Frederick), Lord Calvert Bowl, 410/535-3560; Severna Park Bowling Lanes, 410/647-0811.

67. Keep Your Eye on the Birdie: Play Badminton
A breezy night, a lush, green lawn and birdies flying through the air. Not the chirping, swooping kind, but the ones that get propelled with a solid thwack from a badminton racquet. When was the last time you gave badminton a try?

Here’s a refresher: The game is played with two or four people, a net, a shuttlecock — also known as a birdie — and a racquet for each player. The object is to hit the birdie over the net. Whichever side allows the birdie to touch the ground or sends it sailing out of bounds brings the game to a temporary halt. The other team serves the birdie across the net again. Only the serving team can score, and the first team to 15 points wins.

If it reminds you too much of childhood gym class, take note: afficionados bill badminton as the world’s fastest racquet sport, with birdies reaching 200mph on leaving the racquet. And the sport claimed global legitimacy in 1992 when it became a medal event at the Olympic Games.

On the other hand, if those laurels make it sound entirely too taxing for a leisurely summer game, feel free to return to badminton’s roots. The game’s origins have grown a bit hazy with time, but at least one version claims children played it for centuries in India, Siam and Japan as a cooperative game whose players worked together to keep the birdie aloft as long as possible. Kind of a racquet-based hackeysack, and noncompetitive in the extreme.

You can pick up a badminton set from sporting goods stores anywhere. When scouting for equipment, just remember this: the best quality birdies are made with feathers from the left wing of a goose. Which makes it a Bay sport indeed.

68. Amuse Yourself
What could be better summer fun than twirling on a carousel, looping and diving on a roller coaster, cooling off at a water park and pigging out on funnel cake? You’ll find all this and more at Chesapeake Country’s own Six Flags America, in Largo.

In this era of roller coaster mania, amusement parks battle to outdo one another, adding new rides with each new season, and Six Flags has shone since the days when the park was known as Water World and later Adventure World. Newest of the attractions is the Joker’s Jinx, which rockets you forward to 60 miles per hour in three seconds! Also popular is Batwing, a face down flight of fantasy lasting more than two minutes with top speeds of 50 miles per hour. And don’t forget your swimsuit and towel as admission gets you access to the park’s gigantic water park, complete with giant slides, wave pool, meandering river and more. ($35.99 w/discounts; $8 parking: 301/249-1500).

Farther afield, visit Paramount’s Kings Dominion outside of Richmond (804/876-5000), Busch Gardens in Williamsburg (800/772-8886) or Hershey Park in Hershey, Pennsylvania (800/hershey). And if you’re at the beach, hun, don’t pass up Ocean City’s ocean pier and boardwalk-end amusement parks. The classic carnival atmosphere boasts midway games, a tall Ferris wheel, small mobile roller coasters, kiddy car rides and more (800/oc ocean).

69. Savor Summer Specialties: Make Salsa
Believe it or not, a good batch of hot salsa can do wonders as a refresher in hot weather. Maybe it’s because the heat inside you makes you forget the heat outside. Whatever the reason, the dwellers of hot climates like to eat salsa all summer long.

Like barbecue, the only rule for salsa is that it has to turn out real good. Using all fresh ingredients is the best guarantee of success. Simmer it if you like (especially if you’re canning your salsa), but many makers of great salsa agree that just chopping and mixing the fresh ingredients is summer’s best method.

You can even forget the whole chips and salsa routine and make up a mild batch as a garnish for main-course meats or fish.

Peeled fresh tomatoes, hot peppers, garlic, onions, lemon, salt and pepper are popular for classic salsa. Toss in your favorite herb. Cilantro is standard. If you don’t like it, or for variety, raid the garden: Basil, thyme, oregano, rosemary or mint are all fine, and pineapple sage is a treat. Don’t be inhibited in your ingredients: try cumin, bell peppers or even fruit in place of tomatoes. Mango, papaya or pineapple delight in hot peppers. Make cinnamon or ginger your spice, and your Latin salsa resembles an Indian chutney.

70. NJFK: Get Down and Dirty: Play in the Mud
When a pouring rainstorm washes the world clean, it’s a perfect time to get dirty playing in the newfound mud. Summertime brings on the kind of torrential rainstorms we don’t see any other time of year.

Wait for the lightning and thunder to subside. Then stomp your way through the puddles to a bare patch of yard or public playing fields or a sand volleyball court. Where the water still stands in puddles deep enough for a duck to swim, sprint across the ground’s bald patches and slide through the mud like you’re making for home. Try mud-surfing on a boogie board or piece of a cardboard box. Play tackle football. Lay on your back and make mud angels. Play keep-away with your dog. Wrestle in the mud with your friends.

If a hot and humid day strikes, the kind that simply begs for a thunderstorm, there’s no need to wait for the rain. Fill some five-gallon buckets with water and create your own mud slick on the closest patch of land. Fill up plates to make mud pies and let them bake in the sun. Pretend you’re an elephant at the watering hole and the garden hose is your trunk. Roll in the mud and squirt yourself and your friends with the hose. It’s how elephants keep cool. Why not us?

When you’re done, leave those mud-soaked clothes at the door, and do the laundry for your mom.

Published by New Bay Enterprises Inc.
© Copyright 2002. All rights reserved.
Reproduction without permission prohibited.