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Articles by Michelle Steel

Blue herons return for Valentine’s Day

The great blue heron’s return to Chesapeake Country and consequent mating occurs mid-February, bestowing these majestic birds the nickname, lovebirds.
    “Their local nickname, along with love birds, is Johnny Crane,” said Mike Callahan, president of Southern Maryland Audubon Society.
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February 2 is too important a day to sleep through

February 2 is halfway through winter, so what better time to gather with friends and neighbors to eat good food, drink heartily and look ahead to the coming spring?
    The Pennsylvania Dutch descendants of German immigrants did just that. Among the first celebrants of Groundhog Day, they partied hardy in Punxsutawney, Penn., as far back as 1887.
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By the glass, water’s cheap. Not so when you have to drill 260 feet for it

Water is pretty cheap in the United States: 61 cents a day supplies each of us with our daily ration of 123 gallons of water. Cheap enough that we take it for granted, until the well runs dry. That’s the day dreaded by every well owner, and there are lots of us.
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A second life for Christmas trees

After you take your Christmas tree down, recycle it for a second life.
    In your own backyard, recycle your tree by placing it near a bird feeder. The tree’s branches shelter smaller birds. Throw unsalted, unbuttered popcorn into the branches as free-form birdfood. Branches also provide a good place to hang pinecones smeared with peanut butter and rolled in birdseed.
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Fortunately, its roar is worse than its bite

Few things look scarier than a gelatinous mass with tentacles twisting in the Bay.
    Chesapeake swimmers endure sea nettle stings in summer. But few have been stung by a lion’s mane jelly, the world’s largest known jellyfish species. Lucky for us, these jellyfish are seasonal inhabitants of the Bay from November to March.
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Chris Swarth’s swan song gets you closer to nature

Jug Bay’s new wetlands boardwalk at the Glendening Preserve in Lothian is for nature enthusiasts, ecosystem exploring and kayakers and canoeists.
    The new boardwalk extends out to Old Galloway Creek, a Patuxent River tributary. It’s an official site on the Patuxent River water trail.
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The most beautiful tree of all, yours

Every tree has a story. Whether it’s the tree, the trimmings or the decorator, you can bet your family, friends and neighbors would be happy to tell you why they chose their own special tree.
    Live or artificial?
    Thirty-four percent of Maryland households buy a real Christmas tree each year, according to the University of Maryland College of Agriculture and Natural Resources....

With lines straight from Charles Dickens’ own hand, Twin Beach Players’ third adaptation of A Christmas Carol is its most realistic performance yet, according to director and producer, Regan Cashman.
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Barking up the Christmas Tree

As a field of expertise, Christmas trees — like medicine — has generalists and specialists.
    Generalists decorate their trees with the collections assembled over lifetimes by inheritance, early childhood artistry, gifts and outright purchase.
    Specialists prefer a theme.
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These long-distance travelers migrate from the Arctic for our mild winters

The swans have landed.    
    In November, tundra swans succeed osprey as Chesapeake Country’s big new birds.
    The snow-white swans average four feet in length and weigh between 13 to 20 pounds.
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