Good Living

     You have 10 days to complete your gift-giving mission. Having difficulty coming up with brilliant ideas to wow and impress?       Here Bay Weekly helps you think outside the Big Box and impersonal online shopping sites by browsing and buying at small businesses and shops in Chesapeake Country. We talked to many of our favorites to find out what surprises you can find on their shelves.

Tour the state in one visit

      You can experience the holidays in every Maryland county with just one stop. In the State House rotunda in Annapolis are 24 Christmas trees, each decorated to reflect the character of one county plus Baltimore City.       Garden clubs across the state decorate a tree “reflecting the rich tradition of their county,” says Megan McMinn-Meals, who oversees the three-year-old program, which now includes wreaths, too. 

Tundra swans return

     “The first tundra swans of the season have arrived on Fairhaven pond.” Jimbo Degonia‎ posted the news on Bay Weekly’s Facebook page Tuesday, November 21, documenting their arrival with this photo. That’s early for birds usually seen after the first of December.      A week later I saw a pod of three of the snow-white birds on the same pond, and more since.

Take advantage of the quiet — and of migration — to go birding

     Winter is a wonderful time to study nature in Chesapeake Country. Yes, you read that correctly, the dreaded season of cold and snow. Before I am lambasted for being a warm-weather heretic, let me explain my reasoning.      First, winter in the natural world is mostly a quiet time for humans and nature alike. Similar to our many hardwood species, the crowds of summer now lie dormant, giving you plenty of space to enjoy the natural world.
     With the coming weeks offering events and attractions promising to wow you, amaze you and fill your hearts with holiday wonder and glad tidings, how do you choose which of the season’s pageants makes it on to your calendar?      Here’s a bit of guidance that may help you to inspire a new tradition or rediscover a forgotten favorite.   What: Illuminated London Town  

Six small ways Chesapeake neighbors are making a better world 

     Our neighbors are some amazing people. They do not take for granted the privilege of living in Chesapeake Country in comfort and community amidst a larger world where so many suffer famine, flood, fighting and so many degrees of inferiority.      They interpret that privilege as a challenge to make a better world. Rich in resources as we are, many of us take that challenge far and wide. Others find their mission here at home — for even here, good fortune is not equally distributed.

Play Santa in ways that matter

     Taking care of each other is one of the cornerstones of the Christmas spirit, for everyone deserves a gift from the heart — especially those for whom any gifts are hard to come by.      You can give in small ways, like dropping a donation into a Salvation Army red kettle. Or in large ways, like fully funding a family’s Christmas meal and wish lists.      Use this guide to spark an idea on how to spread the warmth and generosity of the season.

Expect more reasons to go back to the farm, in areas near you

      Agritourism has been in full swing with apple buying, pumpkin picking, hay-wagon riding, corn-maze wandering and vineyard and microbrewery touring.      By next fall, Anne Arundel may have caught up with neighboring Calvert, Prince George’s, Charles and St. Mary’s counties in offering day-trippers a full range of ways to get into nature and onto the farm. 

Beaches, marsh and mountains blaze with color

     Autumn can be a polarizing season, but I have become quite the enthusiast of this time of harvest, leaf peeping and ubiquitous festivals. I like the hot cider and apple fritters, but what I love most are the seasonal changes we can experience in the natural world.

Middle-schoolers learn to see through the lens to bring everyday images to life

This summer middle-schooler ­Kinsey Helmly discovered something surprising about photography.     “I love how every picture has a story behind it,” she writes. “In my photo Blissful Forest, my model has words written on her hand from a classmate at school. That’s why her hand is closed. But you would never have known that had I not told you. That’s what I love about photos. They all have a secret.”