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Articles by Diana Dinsick

When a duckling lost its way, Patsy Wills rescued it and became its ­protector, surrogate and friend

Spring is just around the corner. Soon you’ll see wild mallard mamas marching their downy hatchlings to our Chesapeake waterways.
    The spring one of those countless ducklings lost its way, Patsy Wills of Owings Beach first rescued it from a tight spot, then became its surrogate mother.
    After freeing the tiny creature, Wills, now 63, carried her to the beach and searched for the duckling’s family. But Mama and her brood had moved on. “I took a different approach,” Wills said. “I tried introducing the duckling into another family. No luck.”
    Which gave the nature-loving Wills a new role.
    Up went a predator-safe shelter in her back yard, and in went Duck. The duckling took to her new home and to Wills.
    Duck was hatched in the wild. The first thing she saw was a mallard. Thus, through a process known as filial imprinting, Duck imprinted upon its mallard mother and acquired and kept some of her behavioral characteristics. Duck behaved like a duck, but she accepted Wills as protector, surrogate and friend.
    Thus Duck grew up lucky. She feasted on poultry pellets and earthworms. The sight of Wills picking up a garden fork sent Duck into a frenzy of joy. Duck walked with Wills in the yard or on the beach, stubby wings flapping. Snoozed on the porch. Paddled around the filtered pond installed just for her.
    Wills bought a new plastic kayak, and she and Duck paddled around the edge of the Bay near the mouth of Rockhold Creek. As Wills propelled the kayak, she dangled one foot in the water, so Duck could surf the ripples atop her toes, then hop aboard.
    As Duck grew, her feathers came in. On one walk, Duck’s usual wing flapping lifted her off the ground. She flew through the air for 20 yards, then landed at the edge of the Bay.
    Duck seemed surprised, as well as pleased. She turned to look at Wills, as if to ask, Did you see that?
    From that day on, Duck spent less time in the yard. She came and went as she pleased. Then, in her second spring, she brought home a drake.
    Wills didn’t care for him. He took Duck’s food.
    A second drake seemed immature, simply following Duck around the yard.
    At last, Duck came home with a keeper. This guy was friendly. Mama approved. The pair mated and Duck laid a clutch of 13 eggs.
    After that season, Duck appeared less often. Wills knew she’d done her job well; she’d raised her Duck to self-sufficiency.
    But for many years, she says,
“whenever I stepped outside, I carried poultry pellets just in case.”
    As for Wills, life has gone on. She’s now married to a man she met at a local dance and has changed her surname to Watkins. But she still regales friends with tales about the duck she raised till love did them part.

Jeanne Kelly’s Encore Chorale proves music can reverse aging

Silence falls. All eyes are focused on Jeanne Kelly. At her signal, the Encore Chorale bursts into song. Senior citizens one and all, the singers are primed, vibrant and ready for adventure.
    “Is that your best?” Kelly asks. “Can you give me more excitement?” Of course they can, and they do; Jeanne Kelly brings out the best in every singer.
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Father George Asigre explains the significance of the holiest of ­Christian holidays

For every Christian church, the six weeks of Lent are a time of preparation. On Easter morning, worshippers arrive at a church burst out in celebration.


Bay Weekly You’re celebrating your first Easter at Severna Park’s St. John the Evangelist Catholic Parish …

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And how should we spell her name?

Anne Arundel is a name we know hereabouts — in one spelling or another. There’s Anne Arundel County, Arundel roads galore and the Ann Arrundell Historical Society, to name a few.
    Behind the name is a woman, Anne Arundell, who lived in England about the same time as Shakespeare. The Arundel family name had its impact on us due to Anne’s 1628 marriage into the influential Calvert family.
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Start at the beginning as you would for American ancestors of any race

You’d expect Chris Haley, director of the Maryland State Archive’s Study of Slavery, to be hooked on genealogy. He is. Nephew of Roots author Alex Haley, Chris has studied the subject from the ground up. Here he shares some tips for learning about African American ancestors.

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Great-great-grandfather Samuel Barr’s graceful cursive seems in itself an art of love


Editor’s preface: If you do not burn your love letters, they may outlive you. Because contributing writer Diana Dinsick’s great-great-grandmother did not heed that caution, the romantic passion of her husband-to-be lived on for 200 years, finally becoming a love story for you to share.

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There’s room in the inn at local churches

Christmas is upon us; New Year’s to follow. It’s time for new beginnings.
    Just ask Oliver Sellman, now of Severna Park, who made a tough choice one Christmas season and, in the process, turned his life around.
    It happened in 2008, at a church along the Baltimore-Annapolis corridor, where Sellman was among the guests receiving shelter and spiritual support through Arundel House of Hope.
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He has many faces; here you’ll see some

What do children love most about Christmas? I’m betting it’s Santa Claus, the portly guy in the red suit who builds toys in the North Pole each year, then delivers them to well-behaved children on Christmas Eve.
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Muddy Creek Artists Guild shows more than meets the eye

For shoppers, Muddy Creek Artists Guild’s annual holiday show and sale is about finding gifts from the arts to fill their shopping lists and — very likely — indulge themselves.
    With 55 artists showing and selling hundreds of creations in the Guild’s biggest show of the year, there’s lots to see, admire and desire.
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Decorate your pie for the season

Your family tells you your pumpkin pie is the best they’ve ever eaten.
    But you ask yourself, is there room for improvement.
    When daughter Lauren Dinsick comes back home to Millersville from her high-stress job as a pediatric intensive care nurse in Philadelphia, she’s ready to unwind.
    For her, relaxation often involves pie crust.
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