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November 2013

With fewer tree nuts than in recent years, squirrels are going crazy

I’m under attack. Everywhere I look, squirrels are scampering up trees, toting nuts in their mouths, scurrying across my yard and darting in front of my car.     The word squirrel was borrowed by the Romans from the Greek word skiouros, which means shadow-tailed. Ancient Greek naturalists found their bushy tails remarkable.

Despite excellent conditions, the Young of Year Survey is disappointing

Despite excellent conditions this past spring with plenty of rain and cool temperatures, the Young of Year Survey of rockfish reproduction success for 2013 is a very disappointing 5.6, well below the 60-year average of 11.7.     Over the past seven or eight years, Young of Year spawning numbers have come to look more and more like the profiles that precipitated the rockfish moratorium of the 1980s. The only recent high count came in 2011, when our spring weather was so violent that virtually nobody fished until late May.

Meet her at Barnes & Noble

Fans of award-winning author Lisa Scottoline have a treat this week. She’s coming to Annapolis for a reading and signing of her latest book, Accused.

This week: installment one of three on ­striking out hunger

Reading Learning to Care and Give, Bob Melamud’s story for this week’s paper, kindles a spark of envy in me.     Six-year-old Katie Asher is just beginning to understand the meaning of caring and giving, Melamud writes. Every morning she drops a can of food into the collection boxes at Davidsonville Elementary, where she is a first-grader.     By high school, he continues, students like Tina Depietro, who built a food-can sculpture for South River High, embrace the values of empathy, giving and volunteerism.

Even a partial eclipse can be blinding

The last day of October marks the mid-point between autumnal equinox and winter solstice, one of four cross-quarter days in the passage of the earth around the sun. The day has been recognized for millennia, celebrated as Samhein, The Day of the Dead and All Hallow’s Eve, or Halloween.

The Bay — and your garden — will thank you

Never leave your garden barren. As soon as you have finished harvesting the vegetables or flowers, plant another crop to prevent the soil from eroding or losing nutrients through leaching.     Soil devoid of vegetation is easily washed away and may find its way into the Bay. Plant roots save the soil by binding particles so they will not be washed away. The tops of plants minimize the impact of water droplets that can destroy soil structure and encourage erosion.

Every rockfish is good; now and again, one is extraordinary

When I planted the skiff’s Power Pole anchor on the remains of an old submerged jetty wall that snaked well over a hundred yards out from the shoreline, my face was numb from the chilled air and the fast run. My electronic finder said the water was four feet deep under the keel. But just off the rocks, it would read closer to seven. Not too much farther away, the bottom fell to 20 feet.

An extraordinary man must rise to extraordinary circumstances

Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor: Dancing on the Edge) was a man of fortunate birth. He wasn’t rich, or noble, just a black man born free in the time of slavery.     12 Years a Slave begins with the family enjoying a normal life in Saratoga, New York, where Solomon takes odd jobs and his wife works as a cook. Known in the community, they believe that they have nothing to fear from whites.