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Letter from the Editor (All)

Branch out this weekend to many Marylands

For each of us, Maryland is a different place: perhaps a state of mind, perhaps a state of being, perhaps a blood line running through your veins.
    Like many Marylanders and distant cousins spread throughout the land, your link may take you all the way back to 1634, when Lord Baltimore’s sea-tossed ships The Ark and The Dove bumped into now-St. Clement’s Island and decided the Potomac River was the place for them.
    Bay Weekly contributing writer Mick Blackistone is one of those so linked. So are my sons, through their paternal grandmother Mary Mattingly.
    Another link: You can celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and Maryland Day at the same time and for much the same reason: possession of land. Englishman Cecil Calvert, the mind behind our colony, was made baron of the territory of Baltimore, in north central Ireland, in the 1620s, when such grants were in the English king’s power. His colonial ambitions were further tried in Newfoundland, which proved too cold, and finally in Maryland.
    In Ireland, Baltimore is a rocky village on the coast of County Cork.
    So you can toast Maryland Day with a glass of Irish whiskey. Or beer. But better not make it wine, lest you suffer the fate of a thirsty group of Baltimore colonists. Father Andrew White, who chronicled the voyage, reports the sad consequence of celebrating Christmas 1633 at sea with wine: in order that that day might be better kept, wine was given out; and those who drank of it too freely, were seized the next day with a fever; and of these, not long afterwards, about twelve died ...
    Modern Marylanders preserve the legacy they’ve inherited in many ways.
    For the Ann Arundel Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, including Bay weekly correspondent Diana Dinsick, the touchstone of Maryland history is the Rising Sun Inn, a pre-Revolutionary farmhouse and later tavern tracing its lineage to Virginia Puritans, an outlying branch of the believers who caused so much trouble in England for Charles I, whose history is entwined with Maryland’s.
    For Annapolis, the touchstone is preserving the homes and stories of Revolutionary era personages great and small.
    For Captain Avery Museum’s dedicated volunteers, the touchstone is inviting new generations to share the opportunities of a waterfront home — first of a sea captain, then a Jewish community summer home.
    For the Galesville Historical Society, it’s preserving the traditions of two communities in one, black and white. For the Deale Historical Society, it’s sharing memories of generations leading to ours.
    There are many Marylands beyond these, probably many for each of us, and often divergent.
    New Jersey transplant Joanna Evens can’t get over our roads, she writes of her new home in Southern Maryland:
    “My suspicion is that many numbers of people here are hunters. I can tell by the number of pick­up trucks that crawl up my car trunk as I meander along Rt. 4. Meandering is something I brought with me from New Jersey. Why rush to the next stoplight? The pickups don’t like meandering. …
    “I realize the contorting roads are part of the terrain and not unlike those used when slow-moving wagons transported tobacco. I don’t like driving them — yet — but I like seeing the old barns that suddenly surprise me as I take a sharp turn. The barns are colorful, some colorless, but grace the empty fields much like a stately lighthouse on an empty beach. They seem to be guarding something, perhaps the past.”
    Maryland Day weekend, this weekend, is a good time to visit other Marylands beyond our own, extend our acquaintance with generations past and ponder what we’re handing down to the future.

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

For a week’s worth of words, open Bay Weekly

All the puzzles on Bay Weekly’s expanded Activities Page have me thinking synonymously.
    Amalgamation … composite … everything but the kitchen sink … fusion … gallimaufry … grab bag … hash … hodgepodge … marriage … medley … mélange … miscellany … mishmash … Noah’s ark … odds and ends … olio … omnium-gatherum … pasticcio … pastiche … potpourri … salad … salmagundi … scramble … stew … and my favorite, dog’s breakfast, a ­Canadian idiom I immediately understand. Like the lunch salad my husband generously made for me, this Bay Weekly is full of little bits of good things.
    Come to think of it, newspaper belongs on that list.
    (I’d make that memo to Mr. Peter Mark Roget (1779-1869), were he still around to read it, or his Fifth Edition successor, Mr. Robert L. Chapman, had he not, alas, left this world back in 2002.)
    For what is a newspaper but a periodic anthology of all the stuff that’s come to its editor’s hand by way of assignment, diligence and timeliness?
    I go gallimaufrying as I read my morning newspapers (The Washington Post and The Capital plus a section left over from the plentitude of Sunday’s New York Times). Gallimaufrying, in case you didn’t know (I didn’t) is a “conflation” of French words meaning to amuse oneself and to gorge. And what I seek is to breakfast on the unexpected, from five appreciations of Nancy Regan to stories of love and marriage to who may be who on the Supreme Court to defiances of death to cartoons to advice on the complexities of daily life.
    At Bay Weekly, we’ve gorged ourselves on gallimaufrying in making this paper, so you can expect to go gallimaufryin, too.
    Your reading this week will inform, enlighten and entertain.
    Start with edification. The Chesapeake Waterkeepers, in a new monthly feature by Mitchelle Stephenson, will keep us up to date on front-line actors and action in restoring the Bay, river by river.
    Then learn how researchers and citizen scientists at Smithsonian Environmental Research Center are looking long-term into a future, planting a forest of 20,000 trees to learn lessons in diversity.
    That’s a forest you can visit any day, but what about those saplings you’re passing on every day’s drive? There’s another part of Bay Restoration, planted by the State Highway Administration to improve the health of the Chesapeake watershed by capturing pollution-producing nitrogen and phosphorus in their root systems.
    For news you can use, read Kathy Knotts’ stories on tax advisors ready to help you meet your date with Uncle Sam and Mr. Franchot.
    For what’s happening in the animal world, you’ll read how you can help Chesapeake conservancy set up a new nestcam to spy on a blue heron rookery.
    Speaking of diversity, that, Moviegoer Diana Beechener writes, is the lesson behind the very entertaining Zootopia.
    You’ll find more entertainment in Get Your Skates On, wherein first-time contributing writer Karen Holmes takes us visiting area hockey bars, where fans watch their beloved Washington Capitals score.
    You’ll find entertainment every day of the week in 8 Days a Week, your go-to source for fun and festivities.
    Once your head is full, you’ll be ready for word puzzles four ways: Crossword, CryptoQuip, Kriss Kross and Anagram. Full of words? Stimulate other parts of your brain and satisfy other appetites in this week’s Sudoko and Coloring Corner.
    All that for free 52 weeks a year in Bay Weekly. All we ask is that you support our advertisers.

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

Mine wouldn’t be so harrowing had I had Bay Weekly’s annual Camp Guide

I sure wish I’d had this week’s Camp Guide back when I coerced my mother into sending me 800 miles from home into the wilds of Minnesota for six weeks at Camp Wood ’n’ Aqua.
    Parents, read on lest your kids wander into an experience like mine. Our annual Camp Guide will give you choices, and I’ll give you some practical guidelines in the form of questions I wish I, or my parents, had thought to ask.
    If you’re past that life stage, read on, reminisce — and keep right on reading into Camp Guide. There you can dream, because the camps we’re writing about are awesome.
    Camp Wood ’n’ Aqua had sounded pretty awesome the afternoon its owners pitched its wonders to the assembled third through eighth graders of Our Lady of the Pillar school. I came home after their talk — illustrated with slide images of the Land of Lakes, woods, paper-bark birch trees, canoes and happy campers — to tell my parents they had to send me.
    Persuasion took some doing. Wasn’t the distance far and the stay long? I was nine years old and had never been away from home alone. I was also a pest, and I drilled them like mosquitos around a campfire till they could take no more.
    Preparation was an adventure. Mother and I shopped for a shining black metal chest and filled it with neat stacks of required camp wear. She bought labels printed with my name and stitched them on every blouse, pair of shorts, jeans, underpants and socks, sheet and towel. She gave me lessons on fixing my own hair, and along with soap and shampoo we packed hairbrush, hair bands and bobby pins. I added a stack of books and comics, and she tucked in tablets, envelopes and stamps.
    In the grand dark caverns of St. Louis Union Station, Mother, Dad, my grandmother and most of the staff of our restaurant waved and wept. The train trip north could have been my little ride on the Orient Express — had I not been in oxygen deprivation, holding my breath to keep terror at bay. Instead it felt like a first-timer’s journey on the Hogwarts Express. Despite my stiff upper lip, I was already lonely.
    On the first day of 42, I discovered that we girls weren’t the only swimmers in Minnesota’s thousand lakes. In the bathhouse, as we pulled off our wet one-piece swimming suits, we found shiny black blemishes on our legs and stomachs. Our lake was inhabited by leeches. We poured on salt — boxes were on hand for that purpose — to remove the slimy parasites.
    Rule 1: Ask what flora and fauna you’ll go to camp with, and how camp organizers promote peaceful coexistence. Campers can be taught to avoid poison ivy, like the vine entangling my granddaughter’s camp cabin, and skunks. Avoiding leeches means staying out of the water, but what’s the fun of camp if you have to stay out of the woods? Check out tick precautions.
    At Camp Wood ’n’ Aqua, I spent my time on the water instead of in it. That’s where I learned to paddle a canoe. The amber waters, cloudscapes and peppery smell of ozone before a storm drew me back years later for long canoe and camping trips on the Canadian side of the Boundary Waters. On these adventures, we made up our own family party of two or three, so I had the fellowship you hope for at camp instead of loneliness. Which brings up …
    Rule 2: Ask how counselors promote friendship, defuse cliques and guard against bullying.
    Whether camp friendships are easy or hard, campers are never alone. For an only child used to being solitary, the constant companionship of this big makeshift camp family felt like being in the zoo instead of visiting it. So I suggest …
    Rule 3: Make sure your camp provides quiet time. Camp days are full steam ahead. Most kids, wild things as well as introverts, need the relief of calming quiet time.
    Finally, Rule 4: Broaden your choices. The camps you’ll read about this week in Bay Weekly’s Camp Guide offer about everything under the sun, from animal training to zip-lining, all in manageable installments from hours to half days to overnights to weeks. As you find ones you and your kids like, go beyond the introductions we make in these pages. Study websites. Take notes. Visit camp fairs and open houses; you’ll find many noted in these pages. Talk to organizers, ask questions and consider what you learn. Imagine what it will be like to be there. Then go have fun — or envy the kids who will.

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

Should dispelling stereotypes trump history?

You know that conversation on race we’re all supposed to be having? We’ve jumped into it in the midst of Black History Month from the unlikely springboard of a 1940 romantic comedy set in the whites-only high society of Main Line Philadelphia.
    This month, 2nd Star Productions tried The Philadelphia Story out on 2016 audiences.
    Cast as establishment tycoon George Kittredge, the groom-to-be, in a three-way competition for the love of the female romantic lead was Akili Brown.
    Brown happens to be African American. His race — in that role — was a key issue with Bay Weekly long-time theater writer Jane Elkin, who reviewed the play in our February 11 issue.
    “2nd Star Productions tries to update this classic with color-blind casting,” the review noted, in an edited sentence agreed on by Elkin and me.
    “Confounding credibility is the directorial concept of Tracy’s interracial engagement to George. For these characters, such a union would have been unthinkable,” she continued. “That scenario was the impetus for a different Hepburn blockbuster — Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner — 40 years later.”
    Given the culture of The Philadelphia Story, Elkin could not will “the suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith.” Poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s two-hundred-year-old explanation remains the best we’ve got for how literature, and ­theater, affect us.
    In two of close to 100 reviews Elkin has written for Bay Weekly since 2007, she has made the same complaint.
    “In the past I have criticized Anne Arundel Community College for casting an African American in the title role of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (a tale that takes place in the antebellum South) as well as Colonial Players for casting an African American woman in the role of a blonde, fair-skinned Van Gogh model (a known historical figure who is the subject of a famous portrait) in their production of Inventing Van Gogh,” she explains.
    Is Elkin wrong? Is the color of an actor irrelevant in the 21st century? Should our suspension of disbelief fall on race?
    The pros and cons on that issue bring a lively debate to our pages one week after Elkin’s review was circulated in 20,000 papers and online.
    “We are quite concerned regarding the emphasis in the review regarding our updating of the story and color-blind casting rather than an analysis of the performance itself,” the officers of 2nd Star Productions wrote me.
    “It is a long-standing policy of 2nd Star to cast the best possible actors from our open auditions to fill the roles in a show. We pay little attention to ethnicity in this process as the community we serve is so multicultural. There may be shows such as A Soldier’s Play or Ragtime where race is an important aspect of the story that will demand us to consider skin tone, but beyond that we try to be as inclusive in our casting as possible.”
    Color-conscious casting is the contemporary term for inclusionary casting, and it is common practice in modern theater, explains Pam Shilling in another commentary on Elkin’s review. “Frequently the choice to cast a show in this manner stems from the theatre company’s or director’s dedication to expand opportunity to all actors and to engage the best performers regardless of ethnicity.”
    As an actress with 2nd Star, Shilling was nominated for a WATCH award in Hello Dolly! She was praised as “exquisite” by Elkin last March in 2nd Star’s Cabaret.
    “I am giving Ms. Elkin’s the benefit of the doubt,” Shilling continues.
    “I am asking Ms. Elkin to elaborate on her position on this,” Shilling concluded. “I look forward to her reply.”
    Here’s what Elkin had to say: “I am sensitive to the challenges that minority actors face, but that does not help me suspend my disbelief in such cases. Theater is about creating a credible illusion, and clear visual cues that the play is not entirely within the dimension it purports to represent are distracting to me. Give me an interracial Romeo and Juliet — no problem. But Phila­delphia society girls of the 1930s did not date men of color with their families’ blessings. That’s how it was, and wishing history to be otherwise does not change it.”
    What do you think?
    Should dispelling stereotypes trump history?
    Is it time that we go colorblind — suspending that last visage of disbelief at least in the darkness of our theaters?
    See 2nd Star Production’s The Philadelphia Story for yourself, and perhaps you’ll see things differently.
    Playing FSa 8pm, Su 3pm thru Feb. 20. Bowie ­Playhouse, White Marsh Park, Bowie; $22 w/discounts: 2ndstarproductions.com.

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

Find it in our new Coloring Corner

Not everybody has been lucky in love. So a lucky other’s love story may not universally engender sighs of contentment. If love has done you wrong, your Bay Weekly pick of the week may not be James Baden and Mackenzie Williams’ Love Story, recounted by staff writer Kathy Knotts.
    Fortunately, that’s not the whole story of Bay Weekly. Every week, it’s our mission to have something for almost everybody.
    This week, we send you a Valentine.
    That genre of love token, I’m convinced, has at one time or another warmed every heart. For two centuries, Valentine cards have been a favorite conveyance of affection, from good will to adoration.
    The holiday is the greeting card industry’s second largest sales day. As many as a billion paper cards are exchanged, from inexpensive boxed valentines favored by school children to limited-edition handmade cards costing hundreds, even thousands of dollars. (Millions of e-Valentines are sent, but paper cards are far ahead.)
    Only a fraction of those cards go between lovers. Children, mothers and wives get 80 percent, according to industry tracking. Sweethearts come fourth. Eighty-five percent of valentine card buyers are women, but children give the most. Teachers get more cards than anybody else.
    That statistic won’t dampen my pleasure as, again this Valentine’s Day, I browse the Valentine collection inherited from country schoolteacher Miss Cora Smith, Bay Weekly benefactor and my first cousin twice removed. Handmade and store-bought … funny, sweet and loving, these cards still speak of the affection in the hearts of the children who gave them as much as a century ago.
    Surely a Valentine has made you happy? Can you recall one?
    Two from long ago stand on my mantle, adding sweet memory to the warmth of the fire below. By serendipity, I excavated them at this Valentine season from my treasure chest of past mementoes.
    Both are handmade.
    One is part of a vigorously colored grid of six card-size images created by my younger son at perhaps eight years old. The only Valentine in the block, it shows a blood-red heart pierced by a detailed arrow and dripping five small hearts. Be My Valentine is lettered in blue against a pink background.
    The other is a heart in outline, elaborately inked on an on oversize sheet of art paper. Inside is a message that makes me imagine the friend would have been a suitor.
    When you turn to Bay Weekly page 10, you’ll find a Chesapeake Valentine challenging you to color it lovingly, drawn especially for you by artist Sophia Openshaw.
    Take it, please, as a token of our affection for you.
    Enjoy it. Color it. Feel free to pass it on.
    Coloring Corner will offer you another challenge next week. Tell us if you like it, and images for you to color will keep coming.

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

Bay Weekly’s Dining Guide takes the guesswork out of where to go

You and the groundhog may disagree about how much more winter we’ll have.
    You may rejoice, or wince, at the decisions of caucusing Iowans.
    But no matter your views on politics or weather, I bet you’re tickled at the suggestion to go out for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
    Then comes the tough question: Where will we go?
    Read on to answer that.
    Like Groundhog Day, Bay Weekly’s annual Dining Guide comes to you at the halfway point through winter. Your spirits need shoring up. By now, your snowbird friends have all flown to warmer climes. Cold has spent its bracing effect. You’ve seen about all you need of snow. Your woodpile is diminishing and your heat bills soaring. Your endurance is fraying. You’d really like to get away — were it not for the chains that bind you.
    An hour or two’s excursion for a good meal: That’s a renewable prescription for treating the midwinter blahs and brightening the seasonal-disorder blues.
    Our annual Dining Guide maps your way to eating out through much of Anne Arundel and Calvert counties. Each of the spots you’ll learn about in these pages will satisfy you in some special way.
    For relief from the midwinter blues, February ends with Annapolis Restaurant Week. From February 22 to 28, 42 Annapolis restaurants offer special prix fixe menus at lunch, dinner and, at some, breakfast.
    Speaking of breakfast, you’ve got choices near and far. In Severna Park, we recommend two of contributing writer and breakfast-out lover Bob Melamud’s favorites, Garry’s Grill and Cakes and Confections, both places where breakfast is only one option.
    In Annapolis, Chick & Ruths Delly is a natural. But have you thought of John Barry Restaurant & Bar
at O’Callaghan Hotel? Brunch at Metropolitan is a treat. In Galesville, Sunday brunch at Pirates Cove. In Deale, Happy Harbor serves breakfast seven days, and Dockside does on weekends.
    In Huntingtown, try Chessie’s or carryout at Bowen’s Grocery.
    Lunch and dinner? Depends on where you are and what you want.
    Want comfort food and the friendliness of a neighborhood tavern? Try Babes Boys in Upper Marlboro, Happy Harbor in Deale and Anthony’s in Dunkirk.
    Wanting to introduce visitors to Chesapeake ­specialties? You’ll find just what you want at Pirates Cove and Thursdays in Galesville.
    Want pizza? Try Rocco’s in Annapolis, Angelina’s in Edgewater, Chessie’s in Huntingtown or Brick Wood Fired Bistro in Prince Frederick. Have your pizza flatbread style at Metropolitan in downtown Annapolis.
    Want classic American? How about Preserve, in Annapolis, named for a focus on pickling, preserving and fermenting? Or Brick Wood Fired Bistro, where, says owner Jason Nagers “we’re all about fire.”
    Want ethnic? For Italian, try Luna Blu in Annapolis or Angelina’s.
    For Irish, try John Barry in Annapolis and Babes Boys in Upper Marlboro.
    Want Swiss, sort of? Try The Melting Pot.
    Want German? Naturally, it’s The Old Stein Inn and Bier Bär in Edgewater.
    For French, it’s Café Bretton in Severna Park.
    For Spanish, Jalapeños. For Mexican? Jalapeños again, when you’re in the white-table-cloth mood. In the cantina mood, try Rivera’s Tex-Mex café in Severna Park.
    Want sushi? Tsunami, of course, in Annapolis, but you’ll also be pleasantly surprised at Umai Sushi House in Deale, where Korean cuisine is the other specialty.
    Want Thai? Lemongrass in Annapolis.
    Want Chinese? Try Hunan L’Rose in Odenton.
    Want fun with your food? Try Anthony’s Bar and Grill in Dunkirk.
    Want sports while you eat and drink? There’s Dockside and ­Thursdays in Owings.
    Need fish and meat to cook at home? Bowen’s Grocery features an old-fashioned butcher shop plus fresh oysters and crabmeat. For more fresh seafood, try Chesapeake Seafood in Edgewater. For locally raised beef, pork, chicken, lamb and eggs, the place is En-Tice-Ment farm-raised meats in Harwood and at farmers markets.
    How about some of the best baked treats in town? Cakes and Confections is the place.
    All of these special places share one particular ­quality to recommend them to you as a Bay Weekly ­reader: They’re our partners in bringing you this weekly paper. Without them, there’d be no Dining Guide or Free Will Astrology for you. No News of the Weird or Creature Feature. No 8 Days a Week or Sky Watch. No Bay ­Gardener or Sporting Life. And in their place, you’d have to find your own.
    So use your Dining Guide. Keep it for future reference. Use it to figure out where to go out. Enjoy your meals, and — please — say Bay Weekly sent me.

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

Make a habit of carrying out lunch, and you’ll be as bad as Jonas

Talk about leaving behind litter!    
    Snowstorm Jonas has left us tons to recycle. Mother Earth will do much of the job, melting the snow and filtering it into groundwater aquifers. Where the piles rise into mountains — as in RFK Stadium where D.C. snow is dumped — a tractor-trailer-sized melter hired from Indiana is speeding up the return of snow to water, which will then be treated before entering the stormwater sewer system that eventually leads to the Bay.
    However all this snow melts, much of it is Chesapeake bound, sped along by our rooftops, driveways, sidewalks and roads.
    Of course Jonas will stick us with the bill.
    Stormwater is a recycling issue for which we’d rather not be held accountable.
    On other recycling fronts, we’re much more responsible.
    At household recycling, many of us are champions. Throughout Anne Arundel County, yellow 65-gallon cans line our roadsides on recycling day. Second nature as that recycling seems now, it didn’t happen by accident. Anne Arundel County has waged a two-decades-long campaign to achieve 44 percent recycling. We’ve had lots of help in learning our lesson: tutoring, free ever-larger recycling containers, curbside pickup.
    Yet there’s a backside to that success story. Over half of Anne Arundel household waste ends up as trash, no matter how easy it’s been made for us to avoid that sad ending for the discards of our purchases.
    Old habits are hard to change, and new ones even harder to form.
    Retraining ourselves to restrain our carryout lunch waste is the challenge we take on in this week’s feature story, Lunch to Go.
    The story was born in our own habits. On most any given day, two or three people in the Bay Weekly office order carryout — with all its packaging.
    Perhaps you find yourself in the same boat?
    Reducing our carryout waste, Knotts writes, begins with a pledge to make lunch greener, starting with small steps.
    As an office, we’re creating our own habit-changing support system. Our waste inventory was Step 1, this story Step 2 in building self-awareness of our habits. Next comes stepping up to a commitment to reduce our waste.
    We have Fiesta Ware dishes and our own flatware. So we’re reminding ourselves and one another to tell restaurants to skip the utensils. We’ll be asking restaurants that use polystyrene to make the switch, and we’ll avoid them if they won’t. We’re handing out this article to managers when we pick up carryout.
    We’re also asking what each of us can do personally, based on our own habits. Some pledge to carry personal to-go kits, so we can package our own leftovers when we eat out.
    Kathy’s seen the video of a sea turtle having a straw forcibly removed from its nostril. So she pledges to buy and use a glass or metal straw instead of grabbing the hard-to-identify plastic straws at restaurants. (There are plenty of places to buy reusable lunch ware; her favorite is reuseit.com.)
    What can you do to green your lunch? How far are you willing to go? Write kathy@bayweekly.com or visit the Bay Weekly Facebook page.

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

That’s to be feared when work stops on an oyster reef

In a Bay of 700,000 acres, why make a big deal about eight acres?
    Could it be because those eight acres are the slippery slope on which restoration of Crassostrea virginica could lose its footing?
    With Chesapeake Country under blizzard watch, you can understand why the slippery slope is a dreaded place.
    Less understandable is what’s going on at the muddy bottom of the Eastern Shore’s Tred Avon River.
    More precisely, not going on.
    At issue is Gov. Larry Hogan’s stop-work order on building an ­oyster reef on those eight acres.
    That hole in the water on the Choptank River tributary that links Easton and Oxford is one small piece in a complex saga of oyster restoration. As sagas must, the story stretches back through many years of dramatic rises and falls of a local hero.
    The hero is our Chesapeake oyster, an inert bivalve with superpowers apparent if only you look inside its shell. The Chesapeake ecology and economy rests on a foundation of oysters.
    Our oyster’s trials and tribulations are so well known that our school children recite them.
    Snatching our hero from the jaws of doom is a multi-billion dollar rescue mission that’s spanned decades and only now seems to be working.
    Sanctuaries give our native oyster just what the name supposes they should: undisturbed places to grow where their colonies rise up like trees in an underwater forest rich with life.
    Twenty-five percent of the Bay’s traditional oystering grounds are promised to be reserved as sanctuaries, some 9,000 acres, according to the current Maryland Department of Natural Resources plan. It’s a plan that took years to fine tune, not in locked rooms where bureaucrats debate but in the public forum. It’s a plan in which we have all had our say, from citizens to watermen to scientists to waterway managers and environmental planners.
    A sanctuary isn’t made by name alone. Oysters have to be cultivated there, from the bottom up. Once the right place is found, a foundation has to be laid. Oyster shell is the bed oysters like best. Dropping shell once it’s acquired is a heavy construction project. None of it’s simple or cheap. As much of the money comes through federal and state funding, you can bet it’s made way to its destination — Harris Creek or the Tred Avon — through a policy-making maze.
    In Harris Creek — the Choptank tributary nearest to the main Bay — the sanctuary has been made: 350 acres of new reefs laid and seeded with two billion juvenile oysters at a cost of $26 million.
    On the Tred Avon, work was started in a 150-acre oyster restoration. The money — $11.5 million — was in hand and the contractors hired and ready to go.
    In so big a plan, why halt work on eight acres, unless it’s a first step on a slippery slope away from the best ­success we’ve had yet in restoring our native oyster?
    What happens on those few acres makes a big splash.
    “This largely federal project is a critical piece of and the next step in the state’s commitment to restore oyster populations in five Maryland waterways under the 2014 multi-state Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement with the federal government,” according to our two senators, Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin.
    It’s important enough that you need to know.
    Learn more in the Bay Journal article Watermen Seek, Win, Halt in Tred Avon Oyster Restoration Project: http://bit.ly/BayWeekly_Oysters.

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

What’s new in Bay Weekly and beyond

If you were as lucky as I was, the days between Christmas and January 4 belonged to a different time zone. In that week, it’s possible to pretend everything’s done that needs to be done.
    Not now! 2016 has come out of the gate like a horse on a fast track with a big purse at its end. It’s already run through its first week and speeding through its second. Things are moving.
    The biggest is the Maryland General Assembly, which turns Annapolis from a sleepy town to a working capital for 90 days. One hundred eighty-eight citizen-lawmakers from every corner of the state gather, surrounded by a pack of influence-peddlers all devoted to shaping the law in their favor.
    Decisions that shape your life are being made there — and now. Find out how to follow that action in this week’s feature, Your Primer to the Maryland General Assembly.
    Everybody working at the State House will be too busy to catch the last season of Downton Abbey, started this month on PBS. But the rest of us manage the realities of our lives better with regular submersion in the plot lines of drama.
    Chesapeake Country’s many theater companies are beginning new seasons of live drama. Venus in Fur — a play to make you reconsider what you think you know about relationships, sex and power — is Colonial Players’ January eye-opening offering. Get stimulated at The Player’s theater in the round off State Circle on East Street Thursday to Sunday through January 23.
    The drama turns to our inner lives and family relationships at Annapolis Shakespeare Company’s Studio 111 Theater on Chinquapin Round Road. In 19th century Russian master Anton Chekhov’s Three Sisters, “as their lives seem to spill over into ours, we witness life happen as it happens, unscripted and untidy,” says artistic director Sally Boyett.
    Stimulate your heart to beat faster in a third drama opening this week for two performances only, January 15 and 22, An Evening with Poe at Hammond Harwood House, where you’ll meet the master of suspense, drink port and hear dramatic readings from The Cask of Amontillado.
    Art galleries are hanging their first new shows after the holidays. To open your eyes wider to the world, see what’s on the walls and in the works at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, St. John’s College’s Mitchell Gallery and Annmarie Garden.
    Classes to stimulate your mind and tune up your body are soon starting, as well, at colleges, art centers, senior centers and wellness centers. Meadow Hill Wellness’s Empowerment — an eight-week, life-changing, mind-body course — promises to do double duty.
    Bay Weekly is up to new things as well, with new page of short news, Dock of the Bay (a section faithful readers will remember) and new features in the works. My question of the year is how we can keep you reading. Who knows that better than you? Please stop in during my “Editor Is In” hours Thursdays in January to tell me.

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

And you open up your world

Reading puts ideas in your head.     
    There are so many places I’ll never visit. So many times, both past and future, out of my reach. So many people so close and far whose lives are stories unto themselves. So many thoughts I’d never imagine.
    Except for stories.
    Stories are my magic carpet, my time traveling machine, my introduction, my education.
    “A novel of the life of the city,” a Chicago Daily News editor called his paper, which in its day could be thick as a middle-size city’s telephone book.
    For Chesapeake Country, Bay Weekly is a weekly chapter of our ongoing story, featuring people whose lives run on tracks parallel to your own but each on its own path. They’re your neighbors. But what it is that moves them, how would you ever know — without these pages?
    Among them this week are the railway enthusiasts introduced by Bob Melamud in All Aboard.
    Chesapeake Country is not railway country. Our trains typically run down memory lane, as in the Chesapeake Beach Railway Museum, the B&O Railway Museum and the B&A Trail, a 13.3-mile rail trail on a former rail line.
    I’ve lived in places where the train ran as close to home as it does in the idealized villages created by enthusiasts like Tom Crockett of Tans Cycles Shop in North Beach and the volunteers of Marley Station, who you’ll meet in this story. So I can understand their appreciation for these arteries so near to ours but with beginnings and endings far beyond our reach.
    The scope of their affection, however, goes way further than appreciation. Their love is encompassing, expansionary. These are people who build cities and landscapes around their trains, adding more tracks until they’re so big they have to go public.
    Or they might move up the line in size, to miniature trains so big that children, and even full-sized adults, can ride them.
    Those are the sorts you’ll meet in Melamud’s story, which culminates in instructions for riding the closest we can conveniently get (without paying Amtrak prices) to a real train.
    I tested his instructions, and they work. My teenage train-loving grandkids and I rode to Baltimore on the Light Rail. We could have made a shorter trip by car, but as our destination was the National Aquarium, I’d have had to find Inner Harbor parking, so any adventure we might have had would have been less pleasant — and more expensive — than the light rail adventure we had. I recommend it.
    You’ll meet still more folks enamored of big vehicles in this week’s paper. Fire trucks come after trains, as staff writer Kathy Knotts follows the annual second Sunday of December Santa Run through many Annapolis-area neighborhoods. Collecting toys for kids in need is the reason for the run, but Santa’s rides by fire truck are much of the fun. Says organizer (and antique fire truck owner) John Muhitch, Santa Run happens because of “little boys who didn’t get a fire truck for Christmas.”
    Open up Bay Weekly, and you open up your world.

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