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November 2012

State Highway Administration hasn’t ­collected a penny

Counting any fewer roadside signs as you drive through Chesapeake Country?     After $25 per fines on signs on the right-of-way on state highways were promised last year, we expected postings to go down. Didn’t you?     In the weeks before the November 6 election, signs bloomed. Many were gone before Election Day, though business-as-usual signs — Christmas Lights was an omnipresent one — quickly returned.

Nobody does it betterSkyfall

Fifty years after James Bond ordered his first vodka martini — shaken not stirred — he has become a cultural icon and a bit of a Cold War relic. Donning an impeccable tux, swilling a few drinks, driving too fast in an Aston Martin and having casual sex with every scantily clad woman who catches his eye makes Bond a bit of a dinosaur. The actors may have changed, but the smarmy swinging-sixties vibe has remained.

You won’t mind picking up after comet Tempel-Tuttle

The young crescent moon appears in the southwest at twilight Thursday and Friday, with ruddy Mars a half-dozen degrees to the east the first night and to the southwest the next. Through the weekend the waxing moon sets well before midnight, providing a dark backdrop for the annual Leonid meteor shower.

Great songs, strong voices and ­spirited dancing

Oklahoma!, the Pulitzer Prize-winning first collaboration between Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II, is a rousing night of theater with spirited and memorable music. 2nd Star Productions has the vocal talent to do justice to this great musical.     Director and set designer Jane B. Wingard has chosen to present an Oklahoma! with a beautifully painted set that is flat and one-dimensional. That works because it keeps the focus on the music and the voices.

With trial and error, we’ve found what trees thrive — and which die — in Chesapeake Country’s dense soil

My husband and I have planted more than our share of trees in the soil of Chesapeake Country. We are not arborists by any means, but we have always wanted to plant trees. A cottage in Shady Side gave us opportunity, inspiration and a flat former cornfield, altitude eight feet, just a few hundred feet from the West River.     Over the past 12 years, we have dug wide holes in the yellow clay and put in probably 120 trees. At least half have died, due to drought, deer damage or our irrational optimism.

I voted in the early election voting. Not only that, I was an early election voting official, so I can imagine the energy going on all around me at the precincts as I write.     Many polls had people in Monday night, setting up the equipment, getting ready for the 7am Tuesday start.

The fall flocks arrive this month

Bird enthusiasts and hunters wait for them every fall. Flocking to the Chesapeake from the prairie pothole region of north-central United States, south-central to northern Canada and Alaska, the ducks arrive. They dabble in our coves and lend their voices to the symphony of winter, harmonizing with the sonorous hooting of tundra swans and geese.     Though the vast numbers of the past are no longer, this year’s duck factory output has bird-lovers cheering.

How close we are despite how far apart

Well that’s that. The votes are counted. Losers are mourning, winners celebrating their mandates, that word pundits love. The future is beginning.     There’s a finality to those black-and-white results that’s too simple for real life.     To see the fuller truth, read down any column of figures. Bite into any pie chart.     You see that we are of two minds, often divided by the thinnest of margins.

To elephants, pies and shoots

Thousands of pumpkins are carried away to homes all across the country to be part of harvest festivals, decorations and Halloween Jack-o-lanterns.     What happens to the pumpkins that never find a home?

Storm-displaced pelicans make themselves at home in Port Republic

Beyond tree branches and driving rain, Hurricane Sandy delivered flying surprises that prompted avid birders to describe her severe weather and blustery gusts as a productive storm.     “It is as if the entire Northeast were a giant snow globe that has been lifted up and shaken, with a variety of bird species being found far from where they were before Sandy’s arrival,” the website ebird.com reported.