view counter

April 2014

Plant scientist Bert Drake warns that in Earth’s changing climate, plants are odds-on winners. It doesn’t look so good for us.

Hailing from Maine, Bert Drake likes cool weather. So you’d expect him to be riled about a world getting warmer. The issue is more than comfort, says the plant physiologist, who retired in 2010 after a 40-year career at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater.     Like Noah, Drake worries about flooding. And crop failure, which would have been an issue for Noah, too. Drake, however, might top Noah on the anxiety scale, for he’s got drought on his mind as well.     How did he get so anxious?

Canine Companions for Independence are half dog, half angel

Walking through downtown Annapolis, you may have seen puppies training to be service dogs. They seem special, with their colorful vests and ability to go into stores.     They are working to be selected for a special job, one that — in the words of Nancy Patterson who is part of a human-dog team — allows a “person to return to or begin a life of independence.”

Alana Johnson: In her own words

"Of course I know about Earth Day!         I just started my garden. I’m growing strawberries, zucchini, squash and mammoth sunflowers. You should’ve seen those sunflowers last year. They were huge — taller than me.

If you shop at a Maryland Farmers’ Market, it’s likely because of Tony Evans. Evans, who died January 24, planned most of Maryland’s Farmers’ Markets as the final and favorite assignment of his 30-year career with Maryland Department of Agriculture.     On Earth Day 2014, Evans was eulogized as a “legendary character” and a blossoming Floating Cloud Eastern redbud tree (Cercis canadensis) planted in his honor at the department.

A higher price than we’ll like paying

Are we doing enough?         Reader Frank Allen’s answer to my Earth Day Is Our Birthday question, which you’ll read below in Your Say, praises the progress we’ve made in recycling. He’s right, and like his, our household and office delight in steering recyclables out of our almost empty trashcans into our yellow cans. At home, food waste nourishes our soil and garden. Or, if it’s meat, our dog Moe.     That change in our nature is one big step, but it isn’t enough.

The big fish are here, with anglers on their tails

As our boat, Downtime, approached the Bay Bridge spans, I glanced back at the trolling setup just in time to see the portside rod slam down hard in its holder. Tim Levandoski, an eager angler visiting from upstate New York, rushed to grab the straining outfit. He could barely hold it vertical while line poured off the reel against the drag.

Otherwise, you’re planting trouble

Every year, readers complain to me that some of their plants are flowering either poorly or not at all. That junipers, Japanese hollies and other shrubs have dead branches or worse. That their plants are so leggy. That tree roots have cracked their sidewalks. Last year, a reader asked what would cause the cement block in his basement to crack and bulge.     As plants grow, they require more room. Some plants grow more vigorously than others. Many people plant without planning or knowing anything about the plants they have purchased. All kinds of trouble results.

This pollution is endangering our night skies

We all know of Earth Day, but what about Dark Sky Week?     “I want people to be able to see the wonder of the night sky without the effects of light pollution,” says Jennifer Barlow, who came up with the idea of Dark Sky Week as a high school student in 2003. “The universe is our view into our past and our vision into the future … I want to help preserve its wonder.”

If you can survive the language, you might enjoy this brash character study

It’s rare to know within the first five minutes whether you’ll enjoy a movie. With Dom Hemingway, you do. Dom’s (Jude Law: The Grand Budapest Hotel) opening five-minute monologue on the legendary status of his genitalia is a crude, rambling moment of bravado for the character and the film, literally letting it all hang out.     For some, it’s the cue to run. For others, it’s an indicator that Dom Hemingway is a character study bold enough to make its characters unlikeable or ridiculous.

Ten ways to help our planet and your purse

On the village Earth, we have many neighbors. As Earth Day turns 44 on April 22 — Bay Weekly’s 21st birthday— we propose 10 bright ideas to make our time in Chesapeake Country more Earth-friendly and our future more sustainable.     Some you can do in your home; others will take the will of cities and counties, with you behind them pushing. Bringing them home is a job for each of us, and the more of us there are, the better results we’ll get. To think globally and act locally this Earth Day, start here.