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October 2014

If there be spirits, now’s the time to find them

Storm clouds shot lightning in the distance across the water that cool, damp evening. The flash of the camera was the only other light that pierced the night. Nothing could be seen in the screen except two small balls of light. But when the picture was enlarged, a man appeared: a bearded man in a long coat with — perhaps — a lantern in his outstretched arm. Later, this same face appeared in the photo of a window pane.     Those photographs were our reward on an early October ghost hunt at the historic Point Lookout Lighthouse.

Al ­DeCesaris is running down the East Coast for Sturge-Weber syndrome

Millions of people dump ice water on their heads to raise money for ALS. Hundreds of thousands walk for breast cancer. Can one lone person hope to make a difference? Especially fighting a plight out of the limelight?     Annapolis lawyer and St. Mary’s High School graduate Al DeCesaris knows he can.     For the second year in a row, he’s crossing vast distances under his own power to raise money for a condition most of us have never heard of, Sturge-Weber syndrome.

The Volvo Ocean Race is on its round-the-world blitz again

The Volvo Ocean Race 2014-’15 began October 11 and finishes next June in Gothenburg, Sweden, by way of the ends of the earth.     By then, the seven boats will have sailed 38,739 miles from Alicante, Spain, visiting 11 ports on five continents.     Newport, Rhode Island, their seventh port, brings them closest to us, early next May.     The seven entries come from around the world — United Arab Emirates, China, Turkey and four from Europe — but not from the Americas.

7 million Books for International Goodwill

B.I.G. stands for Books for International Goodwill. Taken at face value, the word tells another truth. Books for International Goodwill is big. This week, the 18-year-old Parole Rotary Club project packs its seven millionth book in its 300th shipping container.     Those milestone figures tell only part of this big story. Books come in at the rate of 1,500 a day. Local readers make many of the contributions, dropping off loads of books 24/7 at the B.I.G. Annapolis warehouse at 2000 Capital Drive. Overprints from publishers add volume.

Maryland bears and hunters coexist

Maryland is a pretty wild place, and getting wilder all the time. Foxes are joining deer, groundhogs, opossums, raccoons and squirrels as regular neighborhood families; skunks and coyotes are occasional visitors.     Lest black bears rejoin the list of wildlife returning to their original statewide range, some 1,100 hunters stalked them, killing 69, in Allegany and Garrett counties from October 20 to 23.

A second life for a worthy craft

Have you outgrown — or out-aged — your boat? It may have a second life helping the Severn River     The Severn River Association needs a small boat to monitor the Severn watershed. The ideal boat is small enough to get into nooks and crannies so volunteers can inspect and photograph shorelines to monitor compliance with Critical Area regulations.

Meet ghosts, Volvo ocean racers and a 1,900-mile runner in this week’s paper

If ghosts do haunt historic places, they may view ghost hunters of Melissa Barba’s ilk with the same distaste long-time celebrities feel for paparazzi. Two or three centuries into the job of haunting, a new generation comes hunting with intrusive paraphernalia: flashlights, cameras, camcorders and voice recorders.

While the wind blows, I’m ­getting a handle on things

The Beaufort Wind Force Scale puts the threshold for a half-gale at 20 miles per hour. These stiff Bay winds are projected to be with us intermittently into November.     Winds like these cheer the hearts of sailboat skippers after the doldrums of summer. But anglers on the Chesapeake suffer at being blown off the water as the season winds down.     To calm the turmoil that gens up in my angler’s innards when I realize another Maryland winter is fast approaching, I clean my gear.

Straw-Bale Gardening Works

Halloween falls right in between

The waxing moon reaches first-quarter Thursday, and as darkness falls on Halloween, it shines high in the south, with the bright star Fomalhaut almost straight below.     As a holiday, Halloween stretches back thousands of years, but not as a day of costumes and trick-or-treating. It coincides with earth’s path around the sun, falling midway between autumnal equinox and winter solstice.