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December 2012

If the world doesn’t end, winter begins

With any luck, Friday, December 21 will not mark the end of the world, but rather the usual beginning of winter for the Northern Hemisphere. The Mayans and their vanished civilization are a true mystery, made all the more poignant by their accomplishments, building great pyramids and devising an elaborate calendar. That calendar, like those of other civilizations throughout history and around the globe, recognizes December 21 as the end of the year — and the beginning of the new.

This bright flowering holly was first found in a nearby bog

Winterberry shows at its best this season, inviting you to cut it for Christmas decorating. The native deciduous forms of holly grow as shrubs six to eight feet tall. At this time of year, the ends of the branches are filled with clusters of bright red berries.

Menhaden gain recognition and protection

Friday, December 14, 2012, is a day that makes a difference. On that day, menhaden — a fish virtually inedible to humans and once numerous but now endangered — gained recognition and protection as a vital component of our complex marine ecosystem.     Meeting in Baltimore, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission declared its intent to protect Atlantic menhaden from continued commercial over-fishing, which has reduced the species to eight percent of its historic population.

Two books with local connections are treats to put under the tree for younger children.

Denise Blum’s Chesapeake Bay Crab Challenge is about Jay, a young boy who wakes up one morning to find his pet crab Clay missing from his aquarium. Where could Clay be? Will Jay find him?     Blum takes readers on a hunt through Chesapeake Country’s Lusby, Oxford and Cambridge — to stores, restaurants and parks.     Children will recognize some of the local landmarks; the story begs a field trip to the unfamiliar places. (I wanted to climb into my car and take off for Rock Hall and Chestertown.)

Can Canada’s answer to Neil Simon match the American’s wit?

Snows may soon cover the golf course, but golfers can escape to the links this winter at The Bay Theatre, where Norm Foster’s comedy The Foursome is now playing. If you long to crack open a few beers and play verbal tackle over a friendly wager, then this is the play for you.

A winter’s wind blows water from the Bay, revealing relics from the past

On a cold winter day, with a stiff northwest wind blowing the Chesapeake Bay south toward the Atlantic, 11-year-old twins Cole and Wyatt Greene stumbled on a strange sight as they explored the exposed mudflats of Herring Bay. Buried in the mud appeared to be the remains of an old ship. A really big ship.

Leon Tucker’s tour in Mongolia has him longing for Southern Maryland’s balmy winters

To step out into December’s minus-20-degree weather, Leon Tucker layers up “in bundles and bundles” with long underwear, thermal sweatshirts, camel wool socks and a North Face parka. This is not what he meant back home in Deale when he called himself “an outdoors person.”     Mongolia is not what Tucker’s mother, Kathy Norris, imagined for the son who always dreamed of travel. “I thought he was going to take off,” she says, “but not that far!”

The rediscovered Chesapeake woodcuts of Eastport’s Philip McMartin

When Philip McMartin arrived in 1963, Annapolis was still a watermen’s town with workboats coming and going.     The 33-year-old journalist-photographer-filmmaker-sailor had fallen under the spell of the water, which drew him to Eastport, where he and his wife and four children lived a stone’s throw from Back Creek.

Peace, goodwill and Slack Winery’s Pink Shoals

Read any good Christmas lists lately?         Good will and peace on Earth continue to top every list, as we haven’t gotten there yet. Despite the best efforts of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, those eternal aspirations remain elusive.

AACo connects families in need to people who want to help

What if you could see the child’s face light up when you drop off a new toy? Or watch the worry slip off the faces of a family when you deliver a Christmas dinner they weren’t sure they were going to have?     The Anne Arundel County Department of Social Services’ Holiday Sharing Program has been matching people who want to help families and seniors during the holidays for 32 years.