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Its About Time - August 2017

Lewis mockorange.  Philadelphus lewisii.
Lewis mockorange.  Philadelphus lewisii.

August is a month of tension between the urge to backpack into the high Cascades and the density of mosquitoes near the best campsites around lakes or wet meadows. In most years, the fierceness of mosquito attacks tends to diminish toward the end of August. Mosquitoes proliferate rapidly in snowmelt ponds. The sooner the snow disappears, the sooner mosquito-breeding season diminishes. Our dramatic recovery from recent years of drought and low snow pack was predicted to stimulate a massive resurgence of mosquitoes this summer. Reports from friends confirm this prediction is valid in the western Cascades. It may well take fall’s return of freezing nights to make for truly mosquito-free hiking.

Following an especially wet and cold spring, July was hotter than normal with practically no rainfall. Blackberries, raspberries, thimbleberries and others in the same family are maturing sooner. The invasive and proliferous Armenian blackberry is already bearing fruit in many locations, suggesting the peak will come before my birthday. Commercial berries are also peaking early. Food preservers need to take note! We like to put up a year’s supply of marionberries, blackberries and blueberries by freezing many pint bags.

Pressure on conservationists continues to be intense. The irrational policy changes generated by our lunatic president demand nature lovers pay attention to attacks on wildland preserves of all kinds. It is difficult to know where to apply maximum pressure. Opportunities for future generations to enjoy at least small fragments of natural environment depend on contemporary activists.