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A few ideas sure to please

Buying a special holiday present for an avid angler, hunter, canoeist or kayaker is fraught with difficulty. Most dedicated sportsmen and women already have the gear they need. Those who don’t have definite ideas of what they want — but it is almost impossible to divine just what. However, there are a few things this holiday season that can be counted on to give special joy to just about anyone who’s outdoor obsessed.

 

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Not all Christmas trees are created equal

Not all evergreen trees are equally fire resistant. The Douglas fir is the most fire resistant tree, while the popular Fraser fir is the most combustible. Freshness has nothing to do with it. Douglas fir is a low-resin tree while Fraser fir is a high-resin tree.

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And spring 2011 is just around the corner

Sub-freezing temperatures and lots of winter wind guarantee that you won’t find me fishing Bay waters the rest of this month, at least not in my meager skiff. The dismal weather appears to have sealed my angling fate for the remainder of the season, but I have memories to keep me warm over the winter.

 

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December’s sky offers rewards for those willing to brave the elements

The sun sets this week a little before 4:45, and as the sky darkens, Jupiter appears high in the south-southeast. Aside from the moon at this time, Jupiter is one of the brightest objects in the heavens until setting due west at midnight. The planet stands out all the more amid the dim water constellations Aquarius, Capricornus, Pisces and Pisces Austrinus, which holds the nearest bright star, Fomalhaut. On Monday, look for Jupiter less than seven degrees below the first-quarter moon.

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Put out bulbs and bring in geranium cuttings

 

Plant spring bulbs now before the ground freezes

To help your tulip bulbs produce large flowers for several years, dig the planting holes at least eight inches deep so that the top of the bulbs are no less that six inches below ground. Plant in well-drained soils amended with at least one-third compost by volume. 

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The sound and sight of Canada geese overhead

 

Is there a more iconic figure from nature to represent the state of Maryland than the Canada goose? Resplendent as our state bird, the Baltimore oriole, is, it is seldom heard and rarely seen by the majority of Free Staters. The great blue heron and osprey are contenders, and I would also nominate the canvasback. But let’s stick with the goose.

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Adrenaline warms up the last days of rockfishing

 

The chill was familiar for this time of year, damp and penetrating. A soft gloom had settled over the water with the arrival of some heavy cloud cover, and I noticed that the tidal current running against a fresh wind had just added an eager chop to the mix.

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It’s not for lack of light that we cannot see the new moon

 

The moon wanes thru week’s end, until Sunday, December 5, when the new moon passes directly between the sun and the earth, disappearing from view.

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See if you can spot the five naked-eye planets

Sunset reveals Jupiter high in the south, shining far brighter than any other object. The king of planets is truly massive — more than twice as large as all the other planets combined. That’s a lot of reflective surface, which makes up for its distance from the sun. While more than three times as far from the sun as its inner neighbor Mars, Jupiter is second in brightness only to Venus....

What do we save and what do we sacrifice?

Saving the Last Farm on the Magothy, my November 4 column, brought lots of interesting mail that sent me down a broader path through the Preservation Woods.

Lucy Illif, who owns one of the few remaining farms in Arnold, reminded me that the Jordan Property next to Ritchie Highway has just been rezoned commercial and that the whole area is being swallowed up by houses and shopping malls.

“Will our farm now be the last one in Arnold?” she wondered.

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