August is a quintessential month of summer in western Oregon: long days with hot afternoons and very little rain. One might expect it to be the month with lowest average rainfall, but that status belongs to July. The issue is the likelihood of thunderheads building up and dumping downpours in very short bursts. These towering cloud formations can be seen building up over the Cascades, sometimes over the valley, almost every August afternoon.
In this era of climate change, the worrying issue is that many thunderheads produce thunderstorms full of sound and fury but which drop very little rain. Raindrops evaporate before they hit the ground. All too often these frequently windy thunderstorms will produce lightning strikes widely across the landscape. They ignite small forest fires that spread rapidly in our dry forests. Hikers and campers must always be alert.
On a cheery note, this is a month of fabulous fruit and vegetable produce. The peak of wild blackberry picking comes on my birthday. We put up a year’s supply of canned peaches early in August; it takes two days. Luscious tomatoes and cucumbers, roots and fruits, greens and beans at the farmers’ markets just might inspire making this a season to enjoy vegetarianism.
Now that the songbird nesting season is over, fledglings swarm around trying to figure out how to land on small feeder perches. They need to fatten up for migration. Flower and butterfly watchers are heading for high subalpine mountain meadows, where the last lilies bloom.