Features (News)

Calvert Marine Museum chips away at 58 million years

Persistence pays off. That’s the case with retired farmer Bernard Kuehn of Accokeek.
    After 30-plus years combing the stream bed running through his farmland for fossilized sharks’ teeth, Kuehn hit the jackpot this month.
    He discovered the soft-shell turtle fossil that lived over 58 million years ago in the Paleocene epoch.
    Heavy rains this spring exposed new layers in the creek bed, revealing the significant paleontological find on Kuehn’s farm, which was under water millions of years ago.
    The reptile would have inhabited fresh water near the ocean.
    Kuehn’s rare find, which he donated to Calvert Marine Museum, is one of only three known specimens of this species.
    Paleontologist Peter Kranz from Dinosaur Park in Laurel investigated the fossil, then asked Calvert Marine Museum for help in quarrying it.
    Joe and Devin Fernandez from Diamond Core Drilling and Sawing Company had the special equipment, a diamond-blade chainsaw, to cut the turtle out of the rock while preserving most of its shell. The turtle was delivered to the museum wearing a coat of rock.
    Unlike a normal turtle’s smooth shell, the fossilized soft-shell turtle’s shell is bumpy from a skin over the living shell.
    The ancient two-by-two-foot reptile appears to be whole.
    The inch-thick hard shell — like a coat of armor — would have protected the turtle from most predators all those millions of years ago.
    It will take many hands — and months — to remove the rock from around the bones as Calvert’s marine paleontologists study the rare specimen.
    Stop by to see the fossil and the work in progress in the Museum’s Prep Lab.

Wild Orchid chef takes over Sam’s kitchen

It’s a new year. With the flip of a calendar comes a chance to renew, refresh and remodel.
    In Annapolis, the new year offers opportunity for two local restaurateurs to help each other.
    Andrew Parks, owner of Sam’s on the Waterfront, has announced his new executive chef, Jim Wilder. Chef Wilder recently closed his Westgate Circle restaurant Wild Orchid after a difficult three-year tenure.
    Timing is everything, so hopes Parks, who has struggled to consistently employ an executive chef in the eight years he has owned the waterfront restaurant built in 1986 by his grandfather, the original Sam.
    Each man endeavors to bring the best of his farm-to-table vision in this new marriage of culinary talents. Each restaurant has — or has had — the green restaurant certification.
    At Sam’s, Parks takes the front-of-house role with Wilder running the kitchen.
    In the past, Wilder has worked both ends of the operation, with 13 years at the helm of his highly regarded Eastport Wild Orchid his pinnacle, to the head-scratching move to the behemoth at the Severn Bank Building — a move that would be his undoing.
    Few understood Wilder’s decision to sell the warm and comfortable 40-seat Eastport café in 2010 and move to the 250-seat former Greystone Grill on the other side of town.
    That decision “was not based on sound business models. I had to keep my mind occupied,” Wilder said, after the untimely death of his and wife Karen’s son, Andrew Wall, from brain cancer in 2009. “It was the bottom. And I deal with depression by keeping busy. Depression drove me.”
    Building a dream kitchen provided a needed distraction from grief. It also afforded access and opportunity to expand Wilder’s Company’s Coming catering business, along with a large floor plan that offered him ideal accessibility for his wheelchair.
    The dream was not meant to be. The restaurant closed in July 2013.
    Parks has his own challenges keeping Sam’s profitable and relevant. Hidden within the gated Chesapeake Harbour Marina community, the restaurant is difficult to find. Warm weather brings boaters out and swells the population of Chesapeake Harbour, where many residents are summer only. Still, Parks estimates that 80 percent of his business comes from outside the community. Getting diners in the door is an ongoing pursuit. Parks hopes hiring a well-known chef will do the trick.
    Chef Wilder brings his most popular dishes to the menu. Butternut squash soup with crab, scallops Napoleon and pork tenderloin wrapped in bacon join Sam’s favorites: lobster mac ’n’ cheese, rockfish and Kobe burgers (half-price on Tuesday).
    The transition has been subtle thus far, though Parks is enthusiastic about a new winter menu and many collaborative surprises to come.

Got a tasty tip for a future’s Dish? Email Lisa Knoll at thedish@bayweekly.com.

How those federal millions help the Bay

      When the federal budget request for 2018 proposed to eliminate funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay Program Office, Bay-lovers were alarmed. The EPA’s Bay program is “the glue that holds the state/federal partnership together,” in the analysis of Chesapeake Bay Foundation President Will Baker....

Start training now to be ready

        You could celebrate Cinco de Mayo with tacos and Mexican beer. But one Southern Anne Arundel County fitness center is hoping you will also celebrate fitness and health this May 5.
       Chesapeake Health and Fitness Club in Deale is sponsoring its first 5K that day, taking runners on an easy, picturesque path along Rockhold Creek.
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John ‘Fish’ Fisher overboard in the Volvo Ocean Race

      In covering the around-the-world Volvo Ocean Race through the years, I met sailing legends who seemed larger than life: Torben Grael, Mike Sanderson, Paul Cayard, Ian Walker and Bouwe Bekking, who is skippering Team Brunel in the current race.
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Students give up spring break to help save the Bay

     Think back a few years. What did you do with your time and talents during spring break from college days? Be careful now. Maybe you shouldn’t answer in front of the children. Fortunately for those of us who love the Chesapeake Bay, a new generation knows how to break from the past and spring into action.
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Marjory Stoneman Douglas’s ­Chesapeake connection

       The students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, Florida, have a patron saint to inspire them as they reconstruct their terror and grief into a national cause, rallying students around the country to end gun violence. Their school’s namesake was a champion for social justice activism for most of her long life.
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Teens Crochet for the Bay to aid Patuxent Riverkeeper and American Chestnut Land Trust
      Think today’s teens always have their hands busy texting or playing video games? Not Angela Arnold and her pals at Huntingtown High School in Calvert County.
      Arnold, a senior, is vice president of a club of teens who keep their hands busy with crochet hooks and yarn. Crochet for the Bay, now an official nonprofit student group, crafts handmade products to raise money for Bay conservation.
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Here’s a sneak peek

      Has your Chesapeake Bay license plate stopped sparking joy? Have its heron, crab and grasses against a field of blue lost their power to remind you, and your fellow motorists, to Treasure the Chesapeake? Is it just too familiar?
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Chesapeake Church provides 1.7 million pounds of food annually

       Drive past most any place of worship in the middle of the day in the middle of the week and you might see a few more cars than at a Chick-Fil-A on a Sunday.
       But make a pilgrimage to the Chesapeake Church any day, most any time of the week, and you would think you’ve parked in front of a new coffee boutique at a ski lodge or …
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