Under the Open Sky: Go Plant Yourself

By Kimberly Mason
For The Chronicle
It’s hot outside and it’s about to get hotter, or so says the weatherman.
My advice is for you to enjoy the outdoors by finding a shady spot and planting yourself there. Better yet, find a shady spot near a river, lake or stream with a cool breeze, dip a line in the water and plant yourself there.
I spent a couple of hours at the Cowlitz River at Barrier Dam this week. It’s hot … and I don’t mean the fishing.

The fishing is good, don’t get me wrong, but it is hard work standing in the sun.

Kimberly Mason / For The Chronicle. A Cedar Waxwing perches in a field of thistle and blackberries. The American Goldfinch enjoy thistle seed, but the Cedar Waxwing is a fruit-eating specialist and will be found in orchards and near berry fields. Offer apple slices, currants or canned peas to lure waxwings to your feeders. A group of waxwings is called an "ear-full." Their call is a thin, high-pitched warbled "zeee, zeeet."

At this time last year I was standing waist deep in the Puyallup River hauling in pink salmon hand over fist. This year there isn’t a pink run coming through, but I heard on Monday that four fall Chinook have already made their way up to the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery.
It’s my favorite time of year and I can’t wait for the combat fishing party to get started at Barrier Dam.
Before you join the party, make sure you stop by one of the local bait shops and see who’s biting on what. In fact, while you’re there, buy what they recommend and then pick up a few other odd color and lure styles. You never know from one minute to the next what will work out there.
As I arrived at the river this week, I asked one of my buddies how the fishing was going.
“I’m not doing worth a darn,” he said while grinning ear to ear (because fishing is fun, catching or not). “I even tried your green and nothing.”
We both laughed.
Green corky and yarn was my “go-to” last fall. Whenever I got bored waiting for a shining silver to come along (and few did), I’d rig up the green and haul up one heck of an ugly black boot of a king.

Word on Birds
My backyard has been quiet in the daytime, but the morning and evening feed has been interesting.
Cedar Waxwings have arrived; they generally show up about the time the fruit starts to ripen.
I watched one fall out of a tree the other day. Don’t worry, he’s okay. I think he just had a little too much of the fermented stuff. Cedar Waxwings are known for their intoxicated antics.
The Red-Winged Blackbirds keep coming back to the feeders with more babies. This looks to be a banner year for these birds; I’ll be interested to see if the numbers jump up in the annual bird count that starts this fall.
The high heat will spoil hummingbird nectar within one or two days. If you’re feeding these little guys, do them a big favor and only put out a cup of nectar at a time and keep the rest in the fridge.
Hummingbirds don’t make happy drunks (unlike the waxwings) and spoiled or fermented nectar can kill them.
Bird water sports has replaced the Olympics for entertainment at my house. You’ll make bird friends fast if you set out a watering station.
But if you put out a bird bath, don’t feel bad if no one visits it for a week or two. Birds are suspicious of new contraptions by nature. Give it time. If you build it, eventually, they will come.
Now, go outside and play — but try and stay out of the sun.

Kimberly Mason is a freelance writer and photojournalist. Visit her website The (Almost) Daily News (almostdailynews.com), find her on Facebook (Kimberly Mason – The Chronicle), call 269-5017 or email kim@almostdailynews.com.