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Good Living

In simplicity, I find plenty

It was late October when I launched my kayak from Jackson Landing into the Patuxent River. I wondered what I would find during the lull between migrations. The osprey had already settled into their South American winter quarters, the ducks and swans were still on their way from northern shores. September’s abundance of wildflowers had faded; only remnants of purple asters remained, the rest gone crunchy and brown.

John Smith was right

The Chesapeake is a country that may have the prerogative over the most pleasant places known, for large and pleasant navigable rivers, heaven and earth never agreed better to frame a place for man’s habitation. –Captain John Smith, 1608 The Bay seemed like a god when I was growing up. It was filled to the brim with opportunity: a fishing spot, a refreshing cool-down, a glassy surface to explore by boat.

A St. Patrick’s Day visit from Southern Maryland to Southern Ireland

America goes green on St. Patrick’s Day. From beer to dress to hair (and once upon a time, the Chicago River), green is the color of choice.      In putting on the green, we’re not alone. St. Patrick’s stomping grounds is doing its own greening, returning to its roots to recapture a way of life and an economy rising from the Old Sod.

The lessons at Anne Arundel Community ­College’s Culinary Institute will last well after the new yearBob Melamud

Food eaten between November 1 and New Year’s Day contains no calories. I suspect I’m not alone in honoring this conviction. Yet a lifetime of stepping on the scale January 2 has convinced me that our cherished belief is a cruel urban legend.     This year I faced an additional challenge. Our editor assigned me to take and report on an Anne Arundel Community College Culinary Institute holiday class. Biscotti, cookies, Scandinavian baking and truffles tempted me — and promised an overabundance of extra calories.

Courthouse Square now looks a lot like Christmas

On December 3, the Parish Hall At Christ’s Church in Port Republic bustles with four dozen Calvert Garden Clubbers preparing to decorate the county courthouse with evergreens harvested a day earlier at four local farms.     “We call it the Greening,” says cochair Mary Berkley.     Wearing monogrammed aprons, they work likes elves trimming magnolia, grapevine and boxwood for wreaths, fragrant sprays and evergreen ropes.

A fresh-cut Douglas fir is the safest tree you can buy

Believe me when I say that not all Christmas trees are created equal. I know because I was assigned to set fires under the five most popular Christmas species.

Our many reasons for thanks amount to many reasons for giving

As much a part of Thanksgiving as the feast is its sharing.         Like turkey, gratitude is a dish best taken in company. It’s just too big to manage on your own. Alongside the dressing, potatoes and cranberries, tales of blessings make the rounds.     With full hearts and bellies, we’re primed to encompass the community in our circle of grace.

We’re eating well and will be into spring

This year’s fall garden has been better than ever.     The August plantings of Contender and Crocket green beans each provided at least three pickings of the most tender and flavorful green beans we have ever enjoyed.

The interloper visits Spica and Mercury

Mercury is putting on its best pre-dawn show of 2013, more than doubling in brightness this week, from +1 magnitude to –0.5 (each order of magnitude is exponential, so an increase from +1 to 0 is a doubling). Monday marks the innermost planet’s greatest elongation — its farthest point away from the sun as seen from earth and its highest point above the horizon. Mercury rises a little before 6am and climbs nearly 15 degrees above the southeast horizon before the sun rises more than an hour later.

It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving ­without the sweet finale

Can Thanksgiving dinner be both wonderful and boring at the same time? I’ve been having the exact same Thanksgiving dinner for almost 25 years now, and it’s getting old. Every year it’s the same people, same place, same menu.     What’s changeable?     It’s family, so that’s not changing.     Turkey with stuffing, sweet potatoes, gravy and the trimmings are too traditional to change.