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Your guide to Chesaeake Country's freshest produce and more!

December 2012

Lessons from Build-A-Bear to the magical Chesapeake Christmas tree

When its lights went on, the Christmas tree seemed suspended above the Bay like magic. The suspension was an illusion. The tree stood on the solid base of the Fairhaven community swim platform in Herring Bay. But the magic was — and remains — real.     This season marks the 30th illumination of Ed Becke’s and Mark Manders’ Herring Bay Christmas tree, which began with a real tree to light up the last Christmas in the life of a neighbor, Tommy Hoyle.

Craig Shelden is a believer

Craig Shelden’s two-car garage is his refuge from the world. From this lair, he runs his spare-time robotics business, Shelden Robotics. The two family vehicles are parked outside the double doors.     Inside is neatness and order. A garden rake, trash can and recycling bins are the only clues to a family life beyond the closed door. Blue and red electric tape strategically stuck to the floor in circles and rectangles measures robotic achievement.

Students compete at the Battle by the Bay FIRST LEGO League robot tournament

atch robotic teams in action — applying science, technology and quick thinking — at the ­Second Annual Battle by the Bay FIRST LEGO League robot tournament on Saturday, December 8, in the Center for Applied Learning and Technology at Anne Arundel Community College.     Students and their Mindstorm robots compete from 1:30 to 3:30pm with awards at 4pm.

Make the Cookie Connection at Skipper’s Pier

Cooking and baking are holiday rituals. We take sweets as gifts and uphold tradition with family recipes as family bonding and tradition.     If you fear you’ll come up short this busy season, Skipper’s Pier in Deale offers an alternative.     Owner and pastry chef Jessica LeCronier will do the work for you. On Saturday, December 22, she invites you to fill a tin or basket at Skipper’s first annual Cookie Connection.

Mike Callahan’s Chesapeake Driftwood Tree

Mike Callahan was searching for creative ways to trim his Christmas tree this year. The president of the Southern Maryland Audubon Society wanted a unique, nature-themed tree that he created with his own hands. When a friend suggested using what Chesapeake Bay had to offer, Callahan hit the beaches, hunting and gathering for his creation. At home, he put his hands and mind to work.

Time’s End? Or a New Cycle’s Beginning?

If you’re nervous about numbers, the combination coming up this week could give you quite a scare. So portentous is this once-a-century triple 12 that it might — or might not — coincide with the end of the world.     Or was it 122112 when time stopped on the Mayan calendar?     Cross-cultural shaman Paul Sivert of The Shamanic Healing Institute in Savage, Maryland, puts a more positive slant on that coincidence of numbers.

Help map out long-term climate changes

Calling all wanna-be weathermen: You can help measure long-term climate changes with 11,000 wanna-be weathermen across the country.     The National Weather Service is looking for volunteers in Calvert County’s Dunkirk area to take daily maximum and minimum temperatures and measure rain and snowfall. The Service will train and equip you.

Get help with your bills as winter blows in

As the temperature goes down, utility bills go up. The Anne Arundel County Community Action Agency wants to help.     The agency helps eligible Anne Arundel Countians pay utility bills. The state is the ultimate source of funding, so you’d be getting a bit of your taxes back.

Store-bought Christmas wreaths and roping may need resurrection

At a winter Saturday morning farmers market on Riva Road, a shopper approached me with a Christmas wreath problem. In a week on her door, a wreath she had purchased at a local big-box store was turning gray-green, and its needles felt dry.     I was not surprised.