Volume 13, Issue 35 ~ September 1 - 7, 2005
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Written by Kat Bennett, Zoe Black, M.F. Faunce, Erin Huebschman, J. Alex Knoll, Valerie Lester, C. Blair Lee, Sandra Olivetti Martin, Marnie Morris, Zach Morris, B.C. Phillips, Alice Snively and Carrie Steele.

True, the summer of 2005 has been as hot as the inside of a crab steamer. Yet we’re sorry to see it go, because despite the swelter, we’ve found 101 ways to have fun. Lots of them, we’re glad to say, involved cool dips of both water and ice cream.

Now school’s started and Labor Day is upon us. Cool breezes have blown our way, reminding us of autumn’s pleasures: balmy days, crisp nights, clear skies. Early leaves have colored and apples are ripening. With such blessings in store, who says we’ve got to forsake summer’s holiday mindset?

Not Bay Weekly. We’re doing our best to have fun all the way to the next authorized season of fun, the winter holidays. Read along and find 50 good ways you — and the kids, too — can fall into the fun of Chesapeake autumn.

1. Open up to Cool Fall Breezes
As the dog days of summer give way to fall, we’re rewarded with cool days and crisp nights. With this welcome dip in climate, it’s time to open up the house and flush out the stale summer air. The cool nights invite snuggling up in favorite blankets for a cozy sleep. Savor this climatic treat while it lasts, because winter’s sharp, cold days mean sealing up the house until spring.

2. Savor the Sounds of Fleeting Summer
Come spring, the sound of peepers is reason to rejoice. Come August, it’s the symphony of summer’s end that’s reason to quiet household ramblings into moments of stillness. It is so alive outside. Crickets, birds and insects abound. Listen: enter into each sound individually. Name the creatures you can recognize by voice or movement of wings. When the kids fidget, warn that it won’t be much longer before these sounds will be gone.

Being young, they may look quizzically. You’re wise enough to reflect on what another year may bring. Savor those sounds and enter into this new season, aware of closure.

3. Shop for School Supplies
My parents take me to the stores to buy paper, pencils, folders, binders, erasers and a backpack. My backpack has to have space for my Walkman. Then we look on the school supplies list to get the specials. A week before school comes backpack packing. That stresses me out because it means school is nearly here.

4. Go Back to School
Do you find yourself looking wistfully at students kicking through autumn leaves on their way back to school? There are plenty of ways to feed your head and explore new topics — but now everything’s an elective.

  • In Academia: Get a taste of what it’s like to be a Johnny. Weekly lectures at St. John’s College in Annapolis are free to all — and you might find yourself joyfully delving deeper into a classic text, play or musical piece you’d sworn off as too difficult. Grab a seat at 8:15pm Friday evenings in Francis Scott Key Auditorium.

    Anne Arundel Community College’s continuing education offers classes and workshops in subjects ranging from cooking to yoga to writing to printmaking. See the full schedule at: www.aacc.cc.md.us/coned/.
  • On the Bay: Explore a stream by canoe, watch migrating birds or explore a new trail at Jug Bay, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Anne Arundel County and Calvert County parks’ forest-full of programs. Many host lectures and regular outings to educate you in ecology. Follow Bay Weekly’s Eight Days a Week for current listings.

5. Visit the Autumn Beach
The kids and the bikini-clad sun worshipers have gone home to their landlocked lives. The heat and humidity are a vague memory. The sand is cool, the air smells clear, and the only noises are the lapping and crashing of waves and the melancholy calls of birds flying south. There’s no better time to be there. The water that cooled the body so delightfully in summer grows colder. The sounds of the mighty Bay ring softly across chilled sand. Sunlight dances upon whitecaps rolling inland.

photo by B.C. Phillips
6. Cook a Garden Meal
First, find a fresh source. Whether your own garden or a farmer’s market, it must be local; just picked if you can get it. Gather up a few yellow and green squash, an eggplant, a couple of sizable tomatoes, several bell peppers, a fist-sized onion and two or three ears of corn. Make sure you have your aromatics: fresh garlic, basil, oregano and parsley. Then chop it all up and simmer it together in a well-seasoned cast iron pan with plenty of olive oil and a dry red wine, adding the fresh corn toward the end. With your ratatouille, serve a loaf of hearty bread from a nearby bakery and sharp grated cheese. For dessert, turn the last of the peaches into homemade ice cream, and swoon again for summer.

7. Fare Well at a County Fair
Ride the Ferris wheel. Pet a goat. Sip lemonade. Gobble fair fries. 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. See how big machines play. Take in a carnival and a concert. Remember.
  • Anne Arundel County Fair: September 14-18: General’s Highway, Rt. 178, Crownsville.
  • Calvert County Fair: September 28 thru October 2: Rt. 231, Barstow.

8. Fire up Your Oven
Grilling out is grand, but nothing warms the heart like a bubbly pan of lasagna and warm chocolate-chip cookies. During the summer months, your oven may have turned into a storage locker, as air conditioning has a hard enough time fighting the scorching temperatures without an indoor heat source. As soon as the mercury drops, it’s time to put the oven back to work baking favorite comfort foods, like hot apple pie (see Way 18).

9. Pick Apples, Eat Apples
It’s time for autumn’s signature fruit: fall apples fresh from the tree. Search local farmers’ markets for the season’s best. The ultimate eating apple arrives first: Gala apples are already out, and they satisfy appetites both fresh and baked in pies or cooked. According to Bay Gardener Dr. Frank Gouin, these apples are moist and store well in the refrigerator. There’s also Fuji, a relatively new favorite from Japan, appearing in mid-September. Granny Smiths are tart apples that are best for baking as is the York, which we’ll see mid-November.

Don’t stop there. Try Honeycrips, Summer Rambo, Gingergold, Royal Gala, Jonathan, Jonagold, Mutsu, Idared, Winesap, Staymen, Rome, Macouin and Courtland. Then there’s Empire, a cross between Macintosh and Red Delicious. “It’s full-flavored sweet-tart, rich in flavor and color — my favorite all the way through,” said Peggy Harris, co-owner of Harris Orchard, in Lothian, who grows 16 varieties of apples. “It’s one of the top-rated apples for the 21st century.”

To find an all-American apple selection near you, shop farmers’ markets and roadside stands. Calvert Country Market schedules Saturday apple tastings; watch 8 Days a week for this year’s dates.

To pluck your own apples from the trees, you’ll have to venture beyond Chesapeake Country, but it’s worth the trip: www.somarylandsogood.com/smhd/index.asp.

10. Bid Farewell to an Osprey
If you’ve been watching osprey pairs build their nests, hatch eggs and raise their chicks, you know it’s farewell time. Already, osprey are feeling the itch to ditch Chesapeake Bay for their wintering grounds in Central and South America. As many as 70 percent of the first year birds won’t make it. They’ll succumb to predators, storms or inexperience in fishing. But those that do will — by some internal map and a miracle — come back again next year around St. Patrick’s Day.

11. Watch a Waterman’s Rodeo
What’s not to love about a waterman? Not only do they keep us in crabs and oysters, they’re the underdogs who must work ever harder to earn a Bay living.

Come September, Calvert County celebrates its watermen in the Calvert County Watermen’s Festival in Solomons.

Sure there’s Bay food to eat and big boats. But the big draw is boat docking. Precise boat handling is not merely a sport for these men; it is their profession and vocation. The cowboy has his rodeo; the waterman his boat-docking contest.

See them show their skill from Noon-5pm Sunday, September 25 at Solomon’s Watermen’s Marina Watermen’s Wharf.

12. Observe the Equinox
Like a road that must be crossed, summer must come to an end. This year’s crossroads of summer and fall comes at 6:24pm Thursday, September 22, with the autumnal equinox. On this day, and the vernal equinox six months later, our hours are evenly divided between sunlight and darkness. Rumor has it that this alignment of the earth and sun allows the curious to balance an egg on end. Truth be told, however, whether you can balance an egg or not depends on you and the egg.

13. Preserve Summer’s Bounty
Refrigeration does wonders for modern cooks, but to keep produce longer than a week, we resort to older methods of preservation. Send a little summer into your fall, winter and spring by freezing, drying, pickling and canning (in order of difficulty) summer produce. Textures will inevitably change, but the homegrown flavor won’t.

Tomatoes can be frozen whole to be used later in sauces and stews. Peaches, peppers, corn, berries, eggplant and herbs also take well to freezing. Any fruit can be oven-dried for autumn hikes, or turned into jam for the morning meal. For the spice of life, turn watermelon rind, peaches, beans, green tomato, okra, cucumber, peppers and cantaloupe into pickles, chutneys and relishes. And don’t forget ketchups, sauces, pastes and juices, butters, syrups, purees and pie fillings. If you want to preserve but don’t garden, that’s what farmers’ markets and roadside produce stands are for.

Make sure to can safely. For procedures and recipes, visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation: www.uga.edu/nchfp.

14. Lose Yourself in a Maize
Test your sense of direction in a corn maze and find the way out of one-and-a-half miles of trails spanning six acres at Greenstreet Gardens. Find your way September 16 thru the end of October at 391 Rt. 258 (West Bay Front Rd.) in Lothian: 410-867-9500 for directions, hours, fees and special events (including some nights opened for flashlight wanderings).

Billingsley House Museum’s six-acre corn field takes a shape Chesapeake citizens should know well: a great blue heron. Wander this maze September 24 thru October 22 from 10am to 5pm Saturdays and Sundays. Billingsley House Museum, Upper Marlboro. Call for directions; $5: 301-627-0730.

Find your way around a three-acre corn maze at Knightongale Farm in Davidsonville on weekends after Sept. 24, where at the end you’ll find pumpkins and haybale spiders: 443-871-1073

15. Save Seeds
Look for the dried seedpods from self-seeding annuals such as marigolds, zinnias, cosmos, four-o-clocks, morning glories and impatiens. Collect seeds from perennials like butterfly weed and native columbine. Save your vegetable seeds, too. Tomatoes, hot peppers, beans and corn have been collected season to season for centuries.

Pluck off the dried pods or shake the seed heads into paper lunch bags. Dry the seeds on paper towels for a day or two. Store in a cool place in plastic food bags labeled with the name and date.

In the spring when the ground warms up, shake your saved seeds onto your garden. Repeat annually and share with your friends.

Seed Savers Exchange: 563-382-5990; www.seedsavers.org.

16. Clean Up at a Neighborhood Yard Sale and Block Party
To make fall clean-up more fun than drudge, organize with neighbors for a joint yard sale to end with a block party celebrating the dispersal of all that unwanted stuff. Plan a pitch-in barbecue picnic for the evening, including all those who joined in the sale plus neighbors who may not have had things to sell. Set up a boom-box for music, keep the food simple and enjoy time with your neighbors before winter’s cold drives everyone indoors.

17. Watch 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 are rich with beauty.

18. Bake an Apple Pie
Nothing says fall like fresh-baked apple pie. A fine recipe comes from Sue Hubbell’s Far-Flung Hubbell (1995), Chapter 1, “The Great American Pie Expedition.” The traveling author found this apple pie at Allen Brothers Farm Market on U.S. 5, Westminster, Vermont.

The Crust:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 egg
  • 2 t sugar
  • 1 T vinegar
  • 1 t salt
  • 1&Mac218;4 cup water
  • 3&Mac218;4 cup shortening

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl and cut in the shortening with a pastry blender. In a separate bowl beat together egg, vinegar and water. Mix with the dry ingredients and refrigerate dough for at least two hours before rolling out. Makes a 9-inch two-crust pie.

The Filling

  • 2 T flour
  • 1&Mac218;2 t cinnamon
  • 1&Mac218;4 t nutmeg
  • 4 cups sliced apples, Cortland or other tart apple
  • 4 cup sugar, depending on tartness of apples

Mix flour, sugar, and spices. Add to apples and mix lightly. Pour into unbaked pie shell. Dot with butter. Cover with top crust. Brush top with whole egg beaten with a little milk. Bake at 325 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes or until browned.

19. Plant a Tree
Raking leaves might make you momentarily wish for fewer trees, but if you want to contribute to future generations’ health and enjoyment, now is the perfect time for planting. 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. And what’s more valuable than a good tree for climbing or sitting under on a sunny day? For all those blessings and colorful autumns, plant now.

Learn how to plant a tree at www.americanforests.org.

20. Put on More Clothes
By the end of summer you have worn the same seasonal outfits at least 12 times each. You’re sick of them. Sweet as those first few weeks were of summer’s sun on bare shoulders, now you’re yearning for the feeling of a soft woven shawl wrapped around them. Aching for flannel. Needing plaids to delight the eye. Longing for the sound of corduroy swishing. The heavy trod of boot-covered feet. The smell of leather.

A wardrobe full of sensory delight is as sweet a sign of September as the school-day delight of new backpacks, as promising as empty college-ruled notebooks and the crisp smell of a new textbook. Tuck summer’s clothes into that box under your bed. Pull fall’s out. Then treat yourself to a few new items to warm body and heart.

21. Feast on Green Tomatoes
The days are getting shorter, the dew is getting cooler and those darn tomatoes are not getting any redder. Don’t stand over them mourning their end; pluck them right off and celebrate the beginning of autumn. The world is full of green tomatoes, so take ’em to the kitchen and …

Chop up Green Tomato Salsa.

Dice them into bite-size chunks, toss them with herbs, garlic, jalapenos and onion for a delicious green-tomato salsa. This recipe is perfect for football Sundays because it is best made ahead, allowing the flavors to meld and marinate.

22. Fry up Green Tomatoes
For a quick, light supper or side dish, fry those green tomatoes. Country-style-breaded are swell, but Italian style is sweet and simple. Heat a large skillet or griddle. Spray with olive oil. Sauté minced garlic, then add thick slices of green tomato. Turn to brown on each side. Season with a drizzle of fine olive oil, salt, pepper and herbs.

23. Cook up End-of-Garden Chow-Chow with a Kick

3 pints chopped green tomatoes, packed firmly

2 pints chopped cabbage, packed firmly

1&Mac218;2 pints chopped sweet and/or hot peppers, any kind or combination

1&Mac218;2 pints chopped white onion

Combine vegetables in large stainless steel pot. Add 2 quarts water and 1&Mac218;2 cup salt; mix well, cover and soak at least eight hours or overnight. Drain well, pressing out excess liquid. Add

2 T celery seed

4 T mustard seed

3 T turmeric

1 quart vinegar

2 cups water

4 cups sugar.

Bring to a boil, cook 10 minutes uncovered; then pack into sterile jars and seal. Makes 16 to 18 half-pints. For the kick, add two or three tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger before bottling — and don’t divulge your secret ingredient.

24. Return to the Garden of Art
Is art just for galleries, museums, and private collections? Is it only meant to be contemplated alone, and from afar, in its own ivory tower? Discover the ways that art, nature and community intersect at one of the Mid-Atlantic’s foremost outdoor arts festivals, Artsfest 2005 at Annmarie Garden, September 17-18. Live entertainment, diverse refreshments and a variety of art activities grace the weekend.

25. Serve a Sunday Chuckwagon Breakfast in the Park
For a great campfire food experience without the fuss of camping out, plan a Sunday Chuckwagon Breakfast. Choose a favorite park that allows grilling or campfires and invite everyone to cook their favorite breakfast treat. Bacon, eggs, sausage, grits, Texas toast, pancakes and fresh fruit all will taste better than cooked at home. Go early in the morning when the park is empty of all but nature.

26. Buy or Browse a Boat
Yes, you’ve missed much of another beautiful summer out on the Bay. But the Bay’s at its best in autumn, when boat sales abound.

At the U.S. Sailboat (October 6-10) and Powerboat (October 13–16) Shows, you’ll find fleets of dreamboats.

If you can’t bear new boat prices, hop on over to Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum’s 23rd Annual Boat Auction in St. Michaels on Saturday, September 3. Beginning at 1pm, auctioneer Herb Andrew promises a good show as well as good bidding some 30 boats, ranging from sailing dinghies to cabin cruisers, donated to the museum for sale to benefit the museum. See the boats first at www.cbmm.org/me_boat_auction.html.

Still looking? After you’ve window-shopped, make a study of used boats. Start with Bay Weekly classifieds for local opportunity. For more depth, graduate to Soundings magazine.

27. Get to Know Local Trees
The world seems a little less lonely once you’ve gotten to know your neighbors. They live tall and majestic just beside us, marking the seasons. But how many of us know the names of the trees in our own communities? Their forms, fruits and flowers? Teach yourself, teach a child. Leaf samples and this state government catalog of Maryland trees is a good place to start: www.mdarchives.state.md.us/msa/mdmanual/01glance/html/trees.html. Better yet, take a stroll and bring along Peterson’s Field Guide to Eastern Trees.

28. Discover Your Inner Artist
Is your inner artist chained up? Let ’er loose and learn the liberation of using the right side of your brain. Become a pupil of the arts as you express yourself through watercolor, ballroom dance, photography, singing, pottery or jewelry-making under the tutelage of experts. At Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, for example, you can learn to paint impressionist watercolors with artist Lee Boyton; or to play the hammered dulcimer from Maggie Sansone; or how to present Shakespeare.

At St. John’s College, tutor your inner artist in writing creative non-fiction writing; forming pottery and English-style teapots; painting, portrait drawing and more. Also find creative outlets at Bay Arts Center; and at Anne Arundel and Calvert County community and senior centers.

Seek inspiration also with the Arts Council of Calvert County’s September classes in beaded jewelry and creativity, both at Calvert Country Market.

Or become art yourself. Kick up your heels at Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble in Annapolis with classes in clogging, tap, Irish dance, jazz and hip hop. Or try out dancercise, jazz and ballet to improve flexibility and express yourself at The Ballet Theatre of Maryland School of Classical and Contemporary Dance.

29. Brew Your Own
Not witches’ brew (unless you choose to call it that), but that other frothy, intoxicating libation: beer. Get inspired by local ales such as those produced by Fordham Brewing Co. in Annapolis. Making your first batch is as simple as a $50 investment, 90 minutes at the stove, and 45 minutes bottling a week later. If you want to get fancy about it, recipes are as numerous and varied as the autumn leaves. Classic pilsners, smoky stouts, crisp ciders and nutty ales: When you are the brewer, you are the master of flavor and nuance.

If you still think home-brewed beer is as mysterious as witches’ brew, there are abundant resources to make it easy. Annapolis Homebrew, at 53 West McKinsey Road in Severna Park, carries homebrewing supplies and provides assistance to would-be brewers: 410- 975-0930; www.annapolishomebrew.com. When you get more ambitious, join the Chesapeake Real Ale Brewers Society (C.R.A.B.S): www.crabsbrew.org. A beer started in September would be ready in four weeks, in time for Oktoberfest.

30. Pick the Season’s Best Crabs
Many bushels of crabs and bottles of beer later, summer begins to fade. We turn from peaches to pears, from new potatoes to sweet potatoes, from corn to pumpkins. But the crabs remain.

“People get out of the habit of eating crabs in the fall,” says Larry Simns, president of the Maryland Waterman’s Association, but that’s when prices are best and most affordable. It’s arguable that true crab season really begins after Labor Day.

To stay savvy and crabby longer than most, don’t forget that the season runs through November, even as you switch from shorts to slacks under the picnic table.

31. Build a Pinecone Bonfire
One of my favorite things is when my dad and I have a bonfire of pinecones and pine needles. First we collect the essentials, then we start the fire. Over the bonfire, we roast marshmallows and talk about our day. When we are done we put the fire out and look forward to our next bonfire together.

32. Watch the Geese Fly
Honk! Honk! Honk! There go those geese again in their nearly perfect V, raucously heralding the end of summer. How birds migrate remains one of the most baffling mysteries of nature. While some travel only short distances, the majority fly thousands of miles, often over open ocean, using some combination of natural landmarks, sun and star positions to guide their journey. So marvel at the geese going north; they know something we don’t.

33. Tend your Mums
Mumsmumsmums. At roadside stands and church bazaars and pick-your-own fields. Purple mums, red mums, white mums, yellow mums … if you can’t find a color to go with your landscaping, you either haven’t looked hard enough or have a weird lawn. Bold, bright colors make a perfect complement to fall foliage, and they’re low enough in maintenance that they won’t distract you from your spring planting. So make a little space among the future tulips in your garden plan to enjoy an added splash of fall colors for the now.

34. Change Your Clock
For the young, summer ends with the return to school. For some, it’s the passing of the Labor Day weekend that marks summer’s end. Mother Nature closes the door on summer with the autumnal equinox September 22. But for many, the changing of the seasons doesn’t strike home until we set our clocks back one hour to Standard Time, October 30 at 2am.

First proposed by Benjamin Franklin, Daylight Savings Time was un-officially practiced by many farmers in order to maximize harvest time in the fields. The homefront effort of the Second World War required conserving every resource, including time, as a form of Daylight Savings Time was enacted to cut down on the hours needed for electric lighting. In 1967, the U.S. government instituted Daylight Savings Time nationally, designating the last Sunday in April as the start and the last Sunday in October as the end.

All that will change in 2007 as a result of the president’s recent energy bill, when the start of DST will begin the second Sunday in March and end the first Sunday in November. Studies have shown that for each day of Daylight Savings Time observed, America’s energy usage is cut by about one percent.

Even so, states may exempt themselves from the law, and currently Arizona, Hawaii and parts of Indiana — as well as Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands — do not observe DST. Neither do most countries close to the equator, where the seasonal swing of night and day are less drastic.

35. Hook up with Hikers
Like walking trails in good company?

  • Chesapeake Outdoor and Hiking Society (CHAOS) meets Sundays at the parking lot at Graul’s supermarket (Taylor Ave. & Rowe Blvd.). Anyone over 18 is welcome. Kids and dogs allowed on some trips: www.chaoshikers.org/EventSchedule.htm.
  • Annapolis Amblers sets up two-hour courses on weekends. Pay a $3 fee to walk at your own pace. Some events coincide with festivals: www.geocities.com/aamblers/Group.html).\
  • Hilman’s Happy Hikers: Day hikes average six to nine miles at places like Gettysburg Battlefield and the Appalachian Trail with some week-long hikes during vacations: www.denaliassociates.com/Annapolis/Hillman.html).
  • The Mountain Club of Maryland does hiking, rafting, canoeing and overnight backpacking, from leisurely to strenuous in all kinds of weather: 410-377-6266; www.mcomd.org.
  • The Rediscover Maryland Program promotes hiking in Maryland. Register to receive a schedule and a program card: www.mdvolks.org/rediscover_maryland/rdm.htm.
    36. Start the Great American Novel

Persistence and a little life experience are as useful as craft when you sit down to write something worth reading Fall gives you an excuse to begin, in the form of November’s National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo). Here’s how it works: Novelists from all over the world start writing on November 1, with the goal of completing a 175-page (50,000 word) novel by midnight, November 30.

Impossible, you say? Tell that to the 12,335 writers who have completed novels through the program since 1999.

“Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap,” the program admits. But “by forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.” In other words, “It’s all about quantity, not quality.”

By the end of the month, you may have produced what the program jokingly calls The Great Frantic Novel, but the hardest part is over. You now have something to brag about, and can get started on turning that quantity into quality. Online registration begins October 1: www.nanowrimo.org.

37. Preserve Autumn’s Colors
Collect an assortment of nicely shaped and colored leaves. Then try one of these pressing techniques.

Fast and easy: Place leaf between sheets of wax paper. Cover top sheet of wax paper with a towel. Press with a hot iron to seal. Trim wax paper close to leaf edges.

Slow and easy: Place leaf flat between several layers of newspaper. Insert into the pages of a heavy book. Leave undisturbed for at least two weeks until leaf is dry and stands up straight when you hold it by the stem.

38. Catch a Hometown Football Game
With the smell of freshly mowed grass and the thumping of bass drums, school spirit again fills the air. Forget summer: It’s time to Pound the Panthers, Destroy the Dawgs and Blast the Bears!

You just paid $6 for some nachos on a Friday night, and somehow they are the best that you’ve ever eaten. Eager fans, young and old, fill aluminum stands, stamping their feet, cheering on their team. Along the grounds, the kids idolize their favorite players, then play their own little championship off to the side with pint-sized footballs, wishing that it would never end. Many of the spectators feel the same way as they reminisce in their past.

To find the joy of summer’s end, dust off that old bleacher cushion from the garage and follow your local high school team.

39. Explore Fall Skies
Unlike the brilliant stars of summer, the stars of autumn are subdued, and their constellations are challenging to spot even for those familiar with the night sky. Easiest to recognize is the square of Pegasus, rising due east at twilight with summer’s end and hanging high overhead by mid-fall. Even so, it takes an active imagination to see this constellation as the winged horse that carried the hero Perseus, another autumn constellation that follows Pegasus. Between Perseus and Pegasus is Andromeda, the beautiful princess the hero rescued from the sea monster Cetus.

Autumn’s watery constellations stretch from west to east above the southern horizon: Capricorn the sea goat, Aquarius the water bearer, Pisces the fishes and Cetus the whale or sea monster.

In early September, sunrise comes around 6:40 and sunset around 7:30; by equinox toward the end of that month, sunrise and sunset come at 7. Little more than a month later, just before Daylight Savings Time ends skews the time by an hour, sunrise is past 7:30, and the sun sets just after 6pm.

Throughout the fall, Venus taunts us from low in the southwest at sunset, appearing brighter than any star but remaining visible for only a couple hours at best. Mars now rises in the east a bit before midnight, but in a few months, the red planet appears in the east as the sun sets in the west. Saturn, recently returned to pre-dawn skies, rises ever earlier, appearing before midnight by mid-October.

A waning moon provides for fair viewing of this year’s Orionids meteor shower, which peaks October 21. Look toward the constellation Orion after midnight the 20th through the 23rd. A near full moon will bleach out most of this year’s Leonid meteor shower November 17, but keep your eye on the sky for the 10 days before and after for stray shooting stars.

40. Divide and Conquer
The neighbor has given up his roses; too many bugs, too many deer. His deliciously empty, expansive flower bed begs to be replanted. Come September, the neighborly thing to do is dig up and divide black-eyed Susans, cone flowers, phlox and evening primroses. Take buckets of those ardent horticultural expansionists to his house; even plant them for him.

To divide plants, dig up the whole thing. With a keen shovel, quarter it. Use a kitchen knife if the shovel botches the job. Plant divisions all over your neighborhood, and water the heck out of them at first.

41. Carve a Jack o’ Lantern
Get out the knife!

Come the last week in October, your pumpkin meets its maker: you.

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 his face with markers. Then carve away, carefully.

If you plan a pumpkin-carving party, the fun multiplies.

42. Jack o’ Lantern Three Ways
Have your jack o’lantern and eat it, too.

At carving time, save the seeds. Rub most of the pumpkin guts off the seeds. For a seed-deep salty coating, throw them in a pot, cover with water and add three tablespoons of salt. Simmer on low for about an hour. Drain the seeds and spread on a cookie sheet. Bake in the oven on low until crispy; then enjoy a healthy home-made snack.

Also save your jack o’ lantern cut-outs for pumpkin pie, bread, cookies and other treats. Cut the hard skin from the flesh of the cut-outs and lid. Steam pumpkin flesh until tender. Mash or puree in a blender. Freeze by cups-full in zipper bags until you’re ready to bake.

43. Find the Perfect Jacket
With the heat and humidity’s disappearance, I think about finding the perfect jacket for school and snow. I go store to store, but all they have are big poofy jackets that I can’t wear because I won’t be able to put my backpack on. I go to many stores to find the perfect one. It’s thin with flannel lining, and the outside layer is waterproof so the snow doesn’t melt on me and freeze my jacket.

It’s time you to go shopping for your perfect jacket, too.

44. Build Your Woodpile
If you agree with the pioneer wisdom that wood is wealth, then it’s money you can burn. It won’t be long now — usually it’s October — when the first squall of dank, cold winter blows in, reminding you all over again the house- and heart-warming pleasure of a log fire.

Build your fortune now, starting with bushel baskets of kindling courtesy of your leafy neighbors, who take the occasion of storms to prove that money in this form really does grown on trees.

Tune up your chain saw now; wait a month, and you’ll wait months longer as work piles up at the few businesses you can rely on to do this job for you. Then take to the back 40 to harvest dead logs to bring home for splitting. If you prefer pioneer pleasures to pioneer labor, scout out a wood lot and order a cord delivered. You’ll still have the pleasure of stacking your fortune in wood — and enjoying your good fortune when the gales of November come slashing.

45. Bury Bulbs
Remember your excitement late last winter when you first saw a snowdrop standing bravely in a patch of snow? 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 from your own yard. It’s a small investment of time and money that will yield immense pleasure for years to come.

You can buy bulbs at your local nursery or home improvement center, but you’ll likely find the best variety in seed catalogs. Keep an eye on 8 Days a Week for local bulb-buying events.

Bulb planting is easy if you invest a few dollars in a tool made just for the job. A bulb planter removes a fist-sized plug of earth; you place the bulb roots down in the hole and replace the plug.

46. Oysters R Us
R months are for oysters is an old saying, dating from the days before refrigeration, when warm weather quickly spoiled catches meant for shipment. Yet it still has a ring of truth for the Atlantic oyster Crassostrea virginica. That’s because as waters get cooler, oysters get firmer and sweeter.

If you don’t fancy them cold and on the half-shell, try them fried or turned into a classic, creamy oyster stew. You can get all this and more at St. Mary’s County Oyster Festival, October 15-16 ($5 over age 12). Maryland’s six-month oyster season opens in October, but with the Bay’s oyster population dwindling, consider locally farmed oysters, such as those from Circle C Oyster Ranch in St. Mary’s County: 301-872-5126.

Used to be, you either loved oysters or you hated them. Now, if you can’t bear the thought of swallowing the sweet, slippery nut locked inside that hard-to-crack shell, at least you can celebrate the work our bivalves do in cleaning up the Bay.

47. Watch a Polar Plunge
Usher in cooler weather by watching exuberant polar bears at the Maryland Zoo at Baltimore, reopened in Druid Hill Park this spring after a $1.3 million renovation with a new name and layout. Board the polar bear exhibit’s Tundra Buggy to see star attractions Magnet and Alaska frolic above and below the water.

A carousel, train and rock-climbing wall attest to the new zoo attitude. But animals are still the main attraction at the Baltimore’s kid- and senior-friendly zoo. 10am-4:30pm thru December. $15; kids under 12 visit free with a paying adult first Tuesdays 10am to noon; free parking: 410 366-lion; www.marylandzoo.org.

48. Spook Up Halloween
Want Ghosts, witches, superheroes and princesses to beat a path to your door? Set a tableau on your lawn. Set the mood with foamcore tombstones or dangling skeletons. Add canned spiderwebs. Arrange scarecrows and jack-o-lanterns in interesting settings like playing cards or having a shootout. Add a touch of novelty by draping tethered helium balloons with cheesecloth. Make a fake coffin or set up a cauldron with dry ice. Cut out some fake aliens, spray with glow-in-the dark paint, paint the eyes black and arrange them around the yard. Fill a rubber mask with paper and hang it from a noose with fake blood. Set covered bowls on a trick or treat table by the door. Lift one to hand out candy, and lift the other to reveal a bloody hand.

Fake blood formula:

  • 5 cups water
  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • 1 t red food coloring
  • 1 t cornstarch or flour

Edible blood formula

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 T cocoa
  • 4 T corn syrup
  • 1 T red food color

Caution: both can stain as well as scare!

49. Sail with the Frostbiters
Do you like madly bucking spinnakers, iced fingers and breathing frozen salt air? Frostbiting may be the sport for you.

November through March, clubs run six to eight weekly races weather permitting. Many of the teams are husband/wife or parent/child. The Annapolis InterClub Fleet reports missing less than two days racing per year due to bad weather, so there are plenty of opportunities. The InterClub is a cat rigged two-person dinghy. Other classes include the 505, Snips, Day Sailor, Jet 14, Lightning, J-24 and Albacore.

  • Severn Sailing Association, Annapolis: 410-268-8744; www.severnsailing.org,
  • International 505 Fleet, sailing one winter Saturday each month: Fleet Captain Bob Patterson: 301-490-7897; [email protected]

Not so adventurous? Come down to the Annapolis docks on winter Sundays to watch the model boat frostbiting races.

50. Share Your Own Ways to Leave Your Summer
Send your favorite ways to leave summer to [email protected].

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