Fire & Ice approaching

It doesn’t seem time for a “fall” festival. But the 10th annual Fire & Ice Festival is right around the corner. Well, it’s right up at the City Hall property on Mountain City Drive.

Yes, it’s way early this year. Thie date worked on key calendars and required coordination. It looks like more fire-y than ice-y, even with the tasteoff contestants.

Mark your calendar for Saturday, Sept. 14, 4-8 p.m. Events include: Bounce House, 4-8 p.m.; Games, Crafts, and Activities, 4-8 p.m.; Silent Auction, 4-7 p.m.; Business Booths, 4-8 p.m.; Mountains of Love Carnival, 4-8 p.m.; Food Booths, 4-8 p.m. (while supplies last); Fire and Ice Tasteoff, 5-5:30 p.m. Bring your own chair or blanket.

Earlier on Sept. 14, (watch City’s Facebook for the time,) the new City Message Center in memory of Mayor Phillip Taylor will be dedicated. It’s the Eagle project of Drew Hilton. When fundraising, Drew said, “Mayor Taylor was an Eagle Scout himself and helped me and my fellow scouts with our Boy Scout goals in many different ways over the past six years. I feel this project best honors him and his service to our community.”

This time, the end of August, offers fascinating birdwatching here.

Hummingbirds are extremely abundant. Change syrup (1 part sugar to 4 parts water) at least every two days in this hot weather. Discard leftover syrup.

On Monday evening, we saw at least ten female Painted Buntings gorging on seeds in preparation for their flight to Mexico / Central America. Aug. 15 we saw our most recent male Painted Bunting.

Lesser Goldfinch continue to flock to Wagner’s thistle seed. Laura Craig taught me, “Other brands do not work.” That has been our experience, too.

Eastern Bluebird parents with about eight juveniles strip berries from our large poke plants and linger at our bird baths.

The cool app that shows which birds might be seen today (or any day of the year) in Mountain City is Merlin. It shows abundance and plays sounds.

Another “go to” app of mine is iNaturalist. Unidentified plants often become identified within hours, from a snapped and cropped photo. This week, a very young poke plant was identified. And, a large mystery plant with no blooms was tagged “crucita.” Yes, of course, three or four years back I had a crucita in that spot.

Might I steer you toward your smartphone or computer to send a tidbit for Montage? (subject: Tidbit.) Thanks! Love to you, PTom

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