Relief from the dog days of summer is as close as the nearest spring-fed stream. With just a facemask, a snorkel, and an old pair of sneakers, you can observe aquatic life on its own terms — underwater. Snorkeling is a great way to introduce children to the cool side of nature.

Kids love dinosaurs. I did more than 55 years ago, and so did many of my friends. We collected and played with hard plastic toy models with long, hard-to-pronounce and spell names imprinted on them. Names like Tyrannosaurus, Stegosaurus, and Plesiosaurus.

Linda and our grandson, Garek, burst into the apartment a few weeks ago excitedly out of breath. “We’ve got a nest with two white eggs to identify,” she said.

Cool sea breezes... Breaking waves playing tag with shorebirds on sandy beaches… Laughing gulls braying like hyenas… Sandy feet… These are a few of the images that dominate memories from long ago summer vacations at the Jersey shore.

About a month ago, I described an active nest box in my grandson’s backyard. A pair of tufted titmice had built a nest and incubated and hatched five eggs. I promised an update on the nest’s fate; all five young titmice fledged successfully. That’s the definition of “nest success.”

The Northern Shenandoah Valley Master Gardeners Association will host the 16th annual GardenFest from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Belle Grove Plantation.

The nesting season for birds shifts into high gear in May. Geography, weather and each species’ biology affect the precise timing of the nesting season, but one constant is the role of the incredible egg.

MIDDLETOWN — Belle Grove Plantation is home to history and various little critters, including bats.

MIDDLETOWN — The Belle Grove Plantation is known for its manor house tours and various events throughout the year, but one of the plantation’s great secrets is located behind the manor house.

Left: Kenidee Woodell, 6, left, and her sister Kerington Starcher, 3, dance to music from the Lon Z Baker band, of Winchester, at Saturday’s Family Fun Day event in Front Royal. Right: Amanda Fox, of Front Royal, shares some shaved ice with her St. Bernard puppy Petunia at the 4th annual Fam…

 Amanda Fox, of Front Royal, shares some shaved ice with her St. Bernard puppy Petunia. She was attending Saturday's 4th annual Family Fun Day at the Main Street gazebo in downtown Front Royal.

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Every spring, Strasburg resident Robbie Parks heads up to the mountains to hunt for morel mushrooms.

STRASBURG — Adora Payne, who was Priscilla Terry's elementary school teacher at Sunset Hill Elementary School, an African-American school that operated in Strasburg until integration in 1964, left a strong impression on her — so strong that the two kept in contact until Payne's death.

Since 1978, the Front Royal Congregational Community Action Project has served Warren County by providing food, clothing, and limited emergency financial assistance.

One problem facing some pet owners is how to dispose of animal waste around their homes.

With spring starting Wednesday, it’s time to start thinking about your garden and its inhabitants.