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Their clock is set to the dogwoods

My first cast met with instant success and, as my slim rod bent down, a flashing, silver missile erupted vertically in the middle of the stream, arced over, splashed down and then grayhounded across the roiling current. Hickory shad had returned.
    I knew it was time earlier that morning when I saw the first signs of dogwood blooms in my front yard. With their emergence the hickories had to be on their way.
    Collecting some shad darts in bright colors and some small three-way swivels as well as a couple of bobbers, I chose my two favorite five-foot spin rods and a pair of warm neoprene boots and set off for the upper Choptank on the Eastern Shore.
    Hickory shad arrive each spring to spawn throughout the Bay’s tributaries, with some returning multiple times in their 10-year lifespan. The harvest of all shad and river herring (a close cousin) has been prohibited in Maryland since 1981, as their population has declined due to unwise agricultural practices, urban development and damming. Catch and release, however, is allowed, as cool water temperatures keep the mortality rates low.
    About an hour later I was rewarded by another good fish, and soon another. As the sun warmed the waters, the bite improved. By mid-afternoon I had notched a rewarding number. The best one, an estimated 20-incher, gave me six nice jumps before it came unbuttoned. Hickory shad is one of the more sporting fish that visits the Chesapeake.

Catching Them
    My technique of fishing a pair of shad darts linked by a three-way swivel 18 inches below my bobber is a site-specific rig, chosen to keep the darts just off of the rocky, shallow river bottom and to hold the lures free from snags. Generally it is best to fish the darts — two always seem to draw strikes much better than one — bobber free so you’re able to explore the deeper waters where these fish also lurk. The hook wire on the shad darts is pliable enough to bend back to the proper shape, so be sure you do, otherwise you’ll not be able to keep a fish on your line for more than a second or so.
    I prefer one-sixteenth- to one-eighth-ounce black-tipped orange or chartreuse shad darts, dressed with yellow or white calf tail. But a one-eighth-ounce curly tail jig in bright green is also popular on the Choptank.
    An 18-inch hickory shad is a big one. Four-pound test line is plenty, but six-pound allows the additional luxury of prying a rock-fouled dart off by pulling hard enough to bend the hook.
Spring Fishing Extra
    This time of year you may also encounter late-run white perch and early-run rockfish. The stripers must be released in all rivers, no matter what their size, until June 1. White perch, however, can be kept for the table and are absolutely delicious, with no minimum size or catch limit.

A man cub learns the laws of the jungle in this winning family film

Fierce tiger Shere Khan (voiced by Idris Elba: Zootopia), slaughters a man who sought shelter in a jungle cave. But escaping Khan’s deadly eye, a toddler survives. The panther Bagheera (Ben Kingsley: The Walk) takes pity on the pathetic man cub.
    Seven years later, Mowgli (Neel Sethi in his feature debut) lives among a wolf pack while training with Bagheera in the ways of the jungle. He loves his family, but he is a failure as a wolf. He can’t run as fast or bite as hard. He can compete only when he uses “tricks,” such as fashioning crude tools. The pack insists he abandon his tricks for life as a wolf.
    Mowgli may need all the tricks in his bag when Shere Khan finds a man cub on his return to the wolf grounds. Shere Khan is determined to kill the boy and anyone who stands in his way.
    Hunted by the most powerful beast in the jungle, Mowgli returns to the human world. Can people protect him? Will he reintegrate into human society?
    The Jungle Book is a colorful, beautiful retelling of the classic tale for all ages. This adaptation owes less to Rudyard Kipling than to the 1967 Disney cartoon, for it features all the Disney songs, characters and plot. But director Jon Favreau (Chef) adds fresh visual styling.
    Best of all is the exemplary work by the all-star voice cast. As the film’s villain, Elba growls his way through a menacing performance. Scarlett Johansson (Hail, Caesar!) fills out the baddie side with her creepy characterization of a humongous boa constrictor that may or may not want to swallow Mowgli.
    To balance the menacing animals, Favreau has stacked the deck with some outstanding comedic voice acting. Kingsley plays straight man (make that panther) to the characters, while offering deadpan zingers that should keep parents entertained. As lazy bear Baloo, Bill Murray (Rock the Kasbah) is beguiling and cuddly. Murray’s voice does a lot to bring warmth and charm to this laid-back take on a favorite Disney character.
    The standout in this talented field is Christopher Walken (Eddie the Eagle), who uses his unique voice and cadence to make King Louie both silly and intimidating.
    The only weak link is Sethi, who can sound a bit forced. It’s not a big problem, as no one in the audience pays much attention to Mowgli with all the talking animals abounding.
    A bigger problem may be the more realistic nature of its animals and sets. Favreau has created a painstakingly accurate environment, so tiger attacks, lunging snakes and rampaging apes are a little more frightening than their cartoon counterparts. My young seatmate was terrified of Shere Khan, and having the tiger leap at the audience in glorious 3D did nothing to quell her fears. If you have a child under the age of seven, consider whether this film will ruin future trips to the zoo.
    All in all, The Jungle Book is family entertainment that should please several generations of viewers.

Good Family Film • PG • 105 mins.

A successful harvest depends on the right bulbs for our hours of light

Onions are good for your health, and generally they are easy to grow. Let me give you some advice on growing them successfully.
    Plant onion sets and you’ll harvest only green onions. Most sets you buy are short-day onions, which produce bulbs only when grown during the winter months with 10 daylight hours or less. Planted in the spring, as daylight hours grow longer, they produce only onion tails, your green onions.
    To grow onion bulbs, you must buy either long-day or intermediate, aka day-neutral, onions. They are shipped in bundles of 75 or more seedlings. Unless you are familiar with a particular variety, I suggest planting two or more varieties. Harvesting will be easier if you keep each separate in the garden, as they’ll mature at different times.
    Onions perform best in high organic soils with a nearly neutral pH.
    The spacing between onion plants is based on the mature bulb size. The most desirable bulb size for kitchen use is one and a half to two and a half inches. For those sizes, use a four-by-four-inch spacing. Bermuda and Walla Walla-size onions need more space; plant them in six-by-six-inch spacing. Those spacings allow room for the bulbs to grow and for you to cultivate between the plants without damaging the bulbs.
    Fertilize two to three weeks after planting and monthly thereafter. Don’t let the soil dry out; onions have a very limited root system, and there is a high population of plants in a limited area.
    Neck rot of onions can be a serious storage problem. Avoid it by knocking the foliage to the ground just as the bulbs begin to mature in late July and August, depending on the variety. Do so as soon as the color of the foliage begins to fade and the tops of the onion tails start turning brown. I use the back of a garden rake.
    Leeks want four-by-four-inch spacing as they do not produce bulbs but do produce thick stems. They have the same growing requirements as onions.
    Garlic planted last fall is now in need of fertilizer. Like onions, garlic plants have a limited root system and respond well to fertilizer and water. Remove the flower buds as they begin to form, mid- to late June, depending on variety. If the garlic plants flower and produce seeds, both bulb and cloves will be smaller. For large cloves of elephant garlic, early removal of the flower stem is doubly important.


Ask The Bay Gardener your questions at DR.FRGouin@gmail.com. Please include your name and address.

 

The General Assembly adjourns; Marylanders finally get to vote

The oceanic roar of political passions in the presidential primaries perhaps deafened you to the estuarine rumble of the Maryland General Assembly.
    But an energy reading of Annapolis would show a precipitous drop after April 12, as our 188 elected representatives and the lobbyists who throng them retreated after another Assembly’s end.
    For 90 days starting the second Wednesday in January, the capitol throbs with the business of making laws. This year, 2,817 bills were considered; 834 become laws. In a marathon on April 12, Gov. Larry Hogan signed 106 into law.
    Most affect an individual life in small ways, as will this year’s revision of Maryland divorce law allowing uncontested divorce without a witness to a couple’s separation of at least a year.
    What will be the biggest legislative deal of 2016?
    In the long shadow of Freddie Gray’s death, Baltimore gets millions to reduce urban blight.
    Noah’s Law makes a sentimental favorite, memorializing a young officer killed in the line of duty — and perhaps saving many more on the roads — by expanding the range of convicted drunk drivers bound to use ignition locks.
    Environmentally, we’ve agreed to further reduce greenhouse gasses by 2030. Oysters in the wild come a step closer to gaining protection as a regulated fishery. Still, there’s no spotlight environmental success this year, when once again disposable plastic bags survived a legislative ban. But from that sector comes a measure of how hard it is to make a bill into law.
    Maryland League of Conservation Voters reports organizing more than 6,750 emails and over 8,000 phone calls to legislators for the sake of environmental legislation. “Environmental voters also showed up in force on Lawyers’ Mall, in committee hearings and legislators’ offices in the hundreds to rally for our healthy environment and future,” said Executive Director Karla Raettig.
    That number includes a swarm of human bees in favor of more pesticide controls.
    From concept to the General Assembly — even to fail — takes a massive effort. For legislation moves by consensus, and ideas draw virulent opponents as readily as they do enthusiastic supporters.
    A bill with the name Maryland Healthy Working Families Act surely must have been loved by at least some of its 80-plus sponsors, including Anne Arundel Delegates Mark Chang and Ted Sophocleus.
    But to Calvert Del. Mark Fisher, it was one front of “Maryland’s War on Work.”
    Fierce as are the tempests that rage in the General Assembly, the storms roil few citizens — but the hyper-committed. In terms of fans, lawmaking is not prime-time material. Too much head-scratching and back-slapping, plus listening and thinking.
    Politicking is a lot more dramatic, particularly presidential, and particularly this year. With Maryland’s late primary, we have had to get our electoral thrills vicariously. Finally, it’s our turn.
    Early voting opens April 14 and continues through April 21. For the first time this year, you can register to vote at every early polling place, all open 10am to 8pm. To register, bring your MVA-issued license, ID card or change of address card, or your paycheck, bank statement, utility bill or other government document with your name and address. Find your closest at ­www.elections.state.md.us/voting/early_voting_sites/2016_EARLY_VOTING_SITES.pdf.
    As this is a primary election, you must vote by party — Democratic or Republican — for president, senator and congress-person and delegates to your party’s national convention. Candidates for judge in Anne Arundel and School Board in Calvert run independent of party, so all voters can weigh in on them in
    If you’d rather vote with your neighbors, Election Day is Tuesday, April 26. Polls are open 7am to 8pm.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher; editor@bayweekly.com

From osprey to elephants, it’s must-see TV

Everyone loves watching wildlife. Taking a break to see nature in action is a wonderful change of pace when you are stuck at your computer all day. Perhaps your children want to really know what a peregrine falcon sees from way up high. Wildlife cams make it happen.
    Get to know some of the cameras keeping an eye on the wilds of the Bay. It’s must-see TV.

Osprey Cams

    Chesapeake Conservancy, Stevens­ville: Calico Tom and Audrey have returned to the nest on the Eastern Shore. Watchers are waiting anxiously for an egg to drop: www.chesapeakeconservancy.org/osprey-cam
    Severna Park High School: A pair has settled in and may be sitting on eggs: www.severnaparkospreys.com.
    Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Annapolis: The male osprey’s nest was relocated with some help from BG&E from atop an electrical pole. Watch as a good mate joins him on his new platform: www.cbf.org/cbf-osprey-cam-live
    Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Cambridge: The osprey pair have yet to lay eggs, but it could be soon: www.friendsofblackwater.org/camhtm.html.

Eagles

    U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service/The Outdoor Channel/Friends of National Conservation Training Center, Shepherdstown, W.Va.: See two eaglets that are almost a month old be fed and eventually fledge: http://outdoorchannel.com/eaglecam
    Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Cambridge: The eagle eggs were abandoned by parents and eaten by predatory birds, so there may be nothing to see here until the next mating season: www.friendsofblackwater.org/camhtm2.html
    National Arboretum/American Eagle Foundation, Washington, D.C.: Bald eagles Mr. President and The First Lady have two growing eaglets, both born in late March. Watch for feeding and eventually fledging: www.eagles.org/dceaglecam
    Earth Conservation Corps, Anacostia River, Washington, D.C.: At least two eaglets in this nest are growing fast: www.earthcam.com/usa/dc/eagle/?cam=eagledc

Peregrine Falcon

    Chesapeake Conservancy, the TransAmerica Building, Baltimore: Falcons Boh and Barb await the hatching of their four eggs. Falcons have been nesting here for more than 35 years: www.chesapeakeconservancy.org/
peregrine-falcon-webcam
    Delmarva Ornithological Society, Wilmington, Del.: Trinity and Red Girl have laid a clutch of five eggs, due to hatch this week: www.dosbirds.org/falcon_cam2
    Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Harrisburg: This camera changes angles every few seconds, giving great views of Mom sitting on her four eggs, due to hatch any day now, and Dad delivering meals atop the 15th floor of the Rachel Carson State Office Building: www.dep.state.pa.us/dep/falcon
Great Blue Heron
    Chesapeake Conservancy, Eastern Shore: This new camera takes you inside a rookery in the tops of loblolly pines. Rell and Eddie are taking turns incubating their eggs, due to hatch this month. The other nest on camera is a supply closet for the herons, with many stopping by to take sticks to their own nests: http://
chesapeakeconservancy.org/blue-heron-webcam

Black Vulture

    Tristate Vulture Cam, Newark, Del.: Watch two adult black vultures take turns caring for their recently emerged hatchling and waiting for the second egg to hatch this week: http://chimneyswifts.net/tristate/?page_id=294

Brown Pelican

    Virginia Living Museum Peli-Cam, Newport News: This camera watches pelicans and other feathered friends in the coastal aviary: www.beachcamsusa.com/va/newport-news/virginia-living-museum-peli-cam

National Aquarium, Baltimore

    Visit Blacktip Reef, where sharks, stingrays, tropical fish and Calypso the turtle make a great live screensaver: http://tinyurl.com/z98ssu4
    Pacific Coral Reef features puffins, anemones, clownfish and black guillemots: http://tinyurl.com/z6pla3a

National Zoo, Washington, D.C.

    ElephantCam: Watch inside the elephant enclosure: https://nationalzoo.si.edu/animals/webcams/elephant.cfm
    LionCam: Prepare to see a lot of napping: https://nationalzoo.si.edu/animals/
webcams/lion-outside.cfm
    PandaCam: Mei and Bei Bei loll, nap and chow down on piles of bamboo on-camera. Choose from two cams, one inside the nursery and one in the enclosure: https://nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/Web
Cams/giant-panda.cfm

For more cameras, visit Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s map of web cams around the region: http://tinyurl.com/jttlnu6

Catch the second weekend of fun and frivolity

Time-travel nearly 350 years from the court of King Louis XIV of France to Twin Beach Players’ version of Molière’s 1668 comedy of manners, L’Avare. The Miser, as English has it, completes performer/director Jeff Larson’s production of a Moliere trilogy, including Tartuffe and the Imaginary Invalid, spanning 14 years of theatrical performances by Twin Beach Players. Through all, he’s teamed with company president Sid Curl.
    Colorful and convincing characters embroiled in a twisting plot make up The Miser’s world. In two acts, we witness what happens when Harpagon, the miser, obsessed with adding to his sizeable fortune, secrets away his wealth. To add to these riches, he plans marriages for his two children. Those around him, however, are equally determined to carry out their own plans.
    These are familiar characters. Comedic archetypes we recognize had their roots in Moliere, including the bumbling Inspector Clouseau character of Pink Panther fame, first imagined as the Miser’s Inspector ­Sansclou. The characters use slapstick, physical humor and clever banter to keep us entertained.
    As in Moliere’s time, some characters break through the imaginary fourth wall that separates the audience from the performers onstage to engage with us directly. The technique is visually interesting and involving as well as revelatory of a character’s private thoughts.
    Larson’s blocking uses stage space wisely, helping to focus our attention toward or away from imposing character action or dialogue, especially when multiple characters share the stage simultaneously.
    Overall, acting is solid with some outstanding performances, including Luke Woods’ commendable physical and verbal character choices as Harpagon.
    Annie Gorenflo’s Elise balances youth and experience. Aidan Davis adds strength to Valere with a pleasing and resonant vocal tone. Tom Weaver’s Cleante is sincere and believably love-struck, while Jenny Liese’s Marianne is bright and affable. Jim Weeks shows commanding physical agility and range as La Fleche.
    Jeanne Louise as Mâitress Jacqueline Ze Chef is animated and excitable; her French accent is believable and her movements charmingly gazelle-like. Stage veteran Helenmary Ball is delightful as marriage broker Madame Frosine, offering impeccable comic timing, hilarious facial expressions and rich vocal variety. Kevin McAndrews masterfully performs his roles of Maitre Simon and Inspector Sansclou, shaping subtle nuances between them. Curl entertains in his cameo as Senor Anselme, drawing comparisons to the chameleon-like talent of actor Tim Conway in physical appearance, comic ability and vocal diversity.
    The production staff skillfully executes their technical responsibilities, giving legitimacy to time and place. Music designer Robert Snider’s selection of pre-show, intermission and post-show music is consistent with the Baroque era. An able stage crew professionally and discreetly transforms the sparse set in Act I to a more fully furnished set in Act II. Costume design and makeup include period wigs, curls and costumes accented with bolder hues to enhance characterizations.


Two and a half hours with a 15-minute intermission; light refreshments available for purchase.

Th-Sa 8pm, Su 3pm thru April 17 at the North Beach Boys and Girls Club, 9021 Dayton Ave. $15 w/discounts: 410-286-1890; www.twinbeachplayers.com.

Spread the word about this haunted place of miraculous possibilities where the crippled are made whole, body and soul

“I’m sure there is magic in everything,” says the invalid child Colin in The Secret Garden, “only we have not sense to get hold of it.”
    If you want to believe in magic again, see Colonial Players’ production of the children’s classic that has been delighting musical theater audiences for 25 years. With award-winning songs, clever staging and an animated cast, it delivers all the haunting magic of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s Edwardian original and then some. Like a dream in black and white, this show blurs the line between this world and the next in spinning the tale of headstrong Mary Lennox (Madi Heinemann), orphaned in India and shipped home to her miserable Uncle Archibald’s (Justin T. Ritchie) English estate. It’s a haunted place of miraculous possibilities where the crippled are made whole, body and soul.
    Colonial’s tiny theater-in-the-round is perfect for the show’s musical narratives enhanced by sharp choreography and an imaginative set. Dance takes center stage as a plot device in the seamless prologue when a scarlet silk handkerchief passed among dancers illustrates the cholera epidemic that orphans Mary. One by one the victims fall, starting with her parents, Captain and Mrs. Lennox (Heather McMunigal and Kory Twit).
    Accompanying the dance is a sterling chorus of neighbors who provide back story and commentary on life at Misselthwaite Manor: Major Holmes (Cory Jones), Alice (Kaelynn Miller), Betsy/Mrs. Winthrop (Erin Branigan), Lt. Shaw (Kyle Gonzalez), Claire Holmes (Kaitlin Fish) and Lt. Wright (Greg Anderson).
    The manor is crawling with ghosts, primary among them Archibald’s wife, Lily (Lindsay Espinosa), who worries over him and their invalid son Colin (Reid Murphy), despite the ministrations of Archie’s jealous physician-brother Neville (Kevin Cleaver). But Mary has the company of a sympathetic maid, Martha (Ella Green), her young brother Dickon (Samuel Edward Ellis) and the gardener, Ben (Danny Brooks). With their help, she discovers Lily’s secret garden and brings its healing power to all the sick and restless.
    With just one piece of furniture, some tissue clouds and myriad special effects, this show conveys a better sense of time, place and action than more opulent productions I have seen. Innovative lighting evokes a full moon, thunderstorms, a skyline of minarets suggesting Mary’s homeland and a robin flitting overhead, symbolized by migrating red chaser lights. Three projectors broadcast films around the theater to simulate actions from the mundane act of opening the curtains to a bucolic train ride and the inner sanctum of the garden beyond its imposing walls.
    The costumes range from drab English earth tones to the tropical whites and lacy gowns of India’s ruling class, where only the turbaned Fakir (Aubrey Baden) and sari-clad Ayah (Fish) dazzle in color. Attention to detail is evident from the housekeeper’s (Cristina Shunk) magnificent key belt to the red trim incorporated into Mary’ dress as she warms to her surroundings.
    Among a cast of talented singers, Ritchie and Espinosa thrill in A Bit of Earth and How Could I Ever Know, and Green delights with her fine Yorkshire accent in A Fine White Horse. Cleaver’s duet with Ritchie (Lily’s Eyes) is unforgettable, and Ellis delights in Wick with a presence that feels metaphysical. Heinemann’s signature song, The Girl I Mean to Be, is charming but difficult to hear over the taped accompaniment — a dilemma common to the other children’s soli and the sole technical problem of this production.
    See this chestnut with someone you love, young or old, and bring a hanky.


By Marsha Norman and Lucy Simon, based on the novel by Frances ­Hodgson Burnett. Director: Lois Evans. Musical Director: Wendy Baird. Choreographer: Carol Cohen. Stage Manager: Andy McLendon. Set: Laurie Nolan. Sound/Effects: Julien C. Jacques. Lights: Eric Lund. Costumes: Jean Carroll Christie. Dialect/Vocal Coach: Nancy Krebs. Musical Accompaniment by Right on Cue Services.

Runs two and a half hours: Thru May 8, Th-Sa at 8pm, Su at 2, Colonial Players, 108 East St. Annapolis. $20 with discounts, rsvp: 410-268-7373; www.thecolonialplayers.org.
 

April is Adopt an Owl Month

Do you give a hoot about owls?     
    Having declared April as Adopt an Owl Month, Calvert County Parks is asking you to step up to protect the raptors, specifically the northern saw-whet owl and the barn owl.
    Maryland Department of Natural Resources puts the northern saw-whet owl on its list of Highly Imperiled species in the latest state Wildlife Action Plan. Barn owls are listed as High Risk of Extinction.
    The northern saw-whet has always been a rare breeder in our region. Not so the barn owl.
    “The change in the barn owl’s status is more significant,” according to Gwen Brewer of DNR’s Wildlife and Heritage Service. “We compared counts from a volunteer breeding bird atlas in 1983 to counts in 2006 and saw a 72 percent decline in the numbers. It is one of the largest declines of any breeding species in our region.”
    The tiny saw-whets nest in Garrett County but winter in the forests of the Eastern Shore. When the nomads pass through Chesapeake Country during their annual migration, park staff and volunteers are watching.
    “We rely on banding data to tell us more about where they are coming from and heading to when they pass through Calvert County,” says Andy Brown, senior naturalist for the Calvert Division of Natural Resources.
    “Studying and protecting these species can get expensive. We rely almost entirely on donations for our projects,” Brown says.
    That’s where you come in.
    Saw-whet adopters “can help us set nets to catch the owls and band them so we can find out more about their migration patterns,” Brown says. Volunteer and you’ll also get a unique band number to track your owl.
    Ghost-faced barn owls used to be as commo as barns in Maryland. Now they’ve declined dramatically, likely, Brown says, due to loss of nesting habitat in old buildings and open grasslands for preying and to poisoning, due to increased use of rodent-killing chemicals.
    Eagle Scouts and volunteers are helping to build nest boxes for the raspy-voiced owls. SMECO donates used power poles for the project. You can help by adopting a nesting box. Your donation of $50 pays for construction materials and predator guards. In return, you get a photo of your adoptee and its location plus a year-end nesting summary.
    “We want to ensure that these species don’t disappear,” Brown says. “When you lose a species it lowers your biodiversity. Low diversity isn’t healthy and that will eventually impact the human species as well.”
    Adopt an owl: www.calvertparks.org.