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A tottering old soul

King Coal’s crown seems to be teetering.
    The second fuel of America’s prosperity may be losing the race to the future, just as wood did before it. Scarcity is not the problem; many of America’s coalfields continue producing high yields. At issue are the consequences of the fossil fuel’s combustion: carbon pollution clogging air and lungs.

Snowy Owls popping up all over

Is it a bird? A plane? A creature flown out of Harry Potter? Or a white paper bag frozen in a field?
    This year, it may be a snowy owl.
    The white bird with bright, yellow eyes, huge talons and a five-foot wingspan is usually a rare sight in Chesapeake Country. So rare that the first-ever snowy owl sighting and photo was recorded in Calvert County this week.

Here be dragons

If Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen: The Wolverine) weren’t a wizard, he would have been an excellent travel agent. He seems to live for organizing meandering trips through Middle-earth, acting as activities director for a ragtag group of his choosing.

Can the Geminids outshine December’s full moon?

The moon lights up the night this week, starting as a waxing gibbous, reaching full moon Tuesday and waxing slowly through the middle of the week. Look for the near-full moon beside the Pleiades star cluster Saturday.

Stuff their stocking with a good book or video

The dedicated outdoorsman or woman is, by definition, equipped. The few things such a person might lack are likely so specialized as to be a mystery to outdoors outsiders.
    Books and movies, however, fall into a safe-gift zone. If you’re intent on pleasantly surprising an outdoors lover with your gift, the following suggestions might help.
    Kayak Fishing (Sportsman’s Best www.Florida

The lessons at Anne Arundel Community ­College’s Culinary Institute will last well after the new yearBob Melamud

Food eaten between November 1 and New Year’s Day contains no calories. I suspect I’m not alone in honoring this conviction. Yet a lifetime of stepping on the scale January 2 has convinced me that our cherished belief is a cruel urban legend.

The trip starts with Maryland’s Bike and Foot Master Plan

Hey, car … van … SUV … RV … bus … truck, can you give walkers and bikers a little room?
    If that’s your plea, you’ll find fascinating reading in Maryland’s Draft Twenty-Year Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan.

Courthouse Square now looks a lot like Christmas

On December 3, the Parish Hall At Christ’s Church in Port Republic bustles with four dozen Calvert Garden Clubbers preparing to decorate the county courthouse with evergreens harvested a day earlier at four local farms.
    “We call it the Greening,” says cochair Mary Berkley.
    Wearing monogrammed aprons, they work likes elves trimming magnolia, grapevine and boxwood for wreaths, fragrant sprays and evergreen ropes.

While never the comet of the century, it piqued our curiosity

It’s official: comet ISON is no more. NASA confirmed Tuesday that after its first-ever venture from the outer limits of the solar system to the sun, the comet did not survive the onslaught of solar radiation. Born 4.5 billion years ago during the formation of the solar system, ISON had resided in the so-called Oort Cloud a full light-year away. Roughly a million years ago, perhaps after a cometary collision, ISON began its journey toward the sun....

Nominate what’s there and what’s needed by December 1

What’s your favorite place to get out on the water, swim or fish? Where is a boat ramp, fishing pier or trail needed? Now is the time to tell the National Park Service your thoughts.
    Use the interactive online mapper, already marked with existing sites and past suggestions, to share your suggestions for new public access sites across the Chesapeake Bay watershed. But hurry, there are only a few days left: the mapper is only open until December 1.