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Nature’s bounty on land and in the air/Wildernotes

August 10, 2012
By Brian Hess - For the Gazette , The Daily Mining Gazette

Summer is really flying by. Here we are and it's already the start of August. I haven't spent nearly enough time in the woods this summer but I have managed to get out and do a little berry picking the past few weeks. Blueberries are tending to be scant in the patches I have visited. It is taking a little more work to get any quantity of berries compared to years past. I have heard that a late frost this year really hurt the crop. I'm not sure if that is true or not. On the other hand, the thimbleberry picking looks like it's going to be good this year. The patches I have seen had plenty of berries ripening up. Blackberries are also coming into season and I have seen a few people out picking them.

I have had the chance to visit my chanterelle patch this past month. I can't say where it is, but the harvest was the best I have had since I discovered the patch years ago. Chanterelles are a type of wild mushroom that grow in the area that are worth the attention of mushroom hunters. They are delectable if you catch them before the bugs do.

Although this is great time to concentrate on what the earth's bounty has to offer, there are other things going on that are worth considering. Lately the northern lights or aurora borealis have been fairly active. This is due to recent increase in activity from the sun. It's hard to predict when they are going to be active exactly or when the sky is going to be clear enough, but when they are it's worth staying up to watch them. I just wish there was a notice system in place to alert people when the lights are active.

Another thing to watch out for at this time in the night sky is the Perseid meteor shower. This meteor shower has been happening and observed for more than 200 years. It typically begins in mid-July and peaks in early August. This year, between July 23 and Aug. 22 the earth will pass through debris from a comet called the Swift-Tuttle. The debris from the comet, often times the size of a grain of sand, will plummet into the earth's atmosphere and burn on the way to impact. Very few objects from these meteor showers ever actually reach the earth's surface. The peak of the shower will be the nights of Aug. 13th and 14. During the peak of the shower, the occurrence of shooting stars can be around 60 meteors per hour.

If you are interested in watching the meteor shower or hoping to see the northern lights, it's best to get into a dark area away from the ambient light from city or streetlights. Be patient and keep your eyes to the northeast, as they most frequently occur with this meteor shower. The moon will appear to be getting smaller so moonlight shouldn't drown out much of the action.



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