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Green Living

Through torrents and drought, rain gardens look good and do good for the environment, too

After a wet spring when rain was abundant in Chesapeake Country, we are now in the midst of a heat wave with chance blasts of short-lived rainfall.     Most of the water that fell for 15 days straight from April 27 through May 11 washed unimpeded into our rivers, flooding streets and carrying whatever was in its path into the Bay. The luckiest raindrops were caught by thirsty native plants and flowers and held in a rain garden just long enough to send that water into the soil below, clean and filtered from pollutants.

You can’t catch any fish if they ain’t there

Being the Severn Riverkeeper is not so much a job as a roller coaster ride. Having a biologist wife, Nancy, to teach me the science and a good friend, Sarah Caldes, to do the grant writing have made it a fun ride.     My early childhood was all about trying to catch fish in Baltimore’s Lake Roland and the Homeland Lakes and in the Severn River. When I was 10, every spring started with a trip to the Severn for the early spawning runs of its iconic fish, the yellow perch.

Yes, but do it at the grocery

Anne Arundel Countians are lucky to have their recycling picked up at the curb. With the county’s single-stream recycling program, you don’t even have to sort. Even so, 26 percent of what goes into the trash is recyclable, according to Anne Arundel County Recycling.     Getting that quarter of our waste out of the trash stream depends not only on the will to recycle but also our knowledge.     You can find a list that outlines most of what is and is not accepted for curbside recycling on the website www.recyclemoreoften.com.

100 Years of the National Park ­Service, 10 for John Smith Trail

America’s first national park, Yellowstone, was preserved in 1872. So many followed that in 1916 the National Park Service was created to manage the then 35 national parks. This year is the centennial of the Park Service.

Becoming a Riverkeeper was my way of helping change ­people’s lives

February 1, 2003, was the day I first learned about Riverkeepers. I remember it so clearly because it was the same date the Space Shuttle Columbia burned up in the earth’s atmosphere over Texas.     That was a sad day for the space program, but my life took a fortuitous turn. I was a mid-life law student taking a Ferris Bueller-type day away from my studies to attend a Tributary Strategies Team meeting at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources in Annapolis. A guy swept into the room, and it seemed like all the oxygen suddenly went in his direction.

Byway meadows help pollinators thrive

It’s a sunny summer’s day, and you’re taking a leisurely drive on a scenic Bay Country byway. Dotting the roadside are native Maryland meadows, alive with the waving of tall grasses and a jolly mashup of brightly hued wildflowers. There are the lavender-blue daisy-like aster, the bright yellow plumes of the goldenrod and the starry pink crowns of milkweed.

Chesapeake’s Bounty connects shoppers with local farms, fish and more

Just a few weeks ago, in winter’s last stand, shoppers in light flannels and heavy vests scurried from the damp sidewalk into Chesapeake’s Bounty North Beach store. A smile from Veronica Cristo and an aroma of apple cider warmed the room. The wood floor creaked as they drifted through waist-high aisles of sweet potatoes, apples and stacked jars of local honey and jam, on their way to a table of dinosaur kale and bright green spinach.

Know what you’re getting into

Everything flows downstream. Ponder that maxim as summer draws you to the alluring waters of Chesapeake Country.     When taking a swim in the Bay and its tributaries, think of what’s traveled downstream. The big rains we’ve been having are expressways for pollutants entering the Bay. So some days our waters are not safe waters.

Sometimes you need fertilizers

Am I an organic gardener? I’m often asked that question. I suspect that many who read this column conclude that my frequent reference to composting and compost in gardening means I must be an organic gardener. They seem shocked when I say that I use chemical fertilizers in addition to amending my soils with compost. My reasoning is that of a scientist.

Shady Side fifth-graders saving the Bay one handful of spat at a time

Some Southern Anne Arundel County students are taking the adage bloom where you’re planted more than a few steps further. Fifth-graders at Shady Side Elementary are planting oysters to help restore the Bay’s oyster population.     “We need oysters to clean the Bay,” said Lacey Wilde, 11, the daughter and granddaughter of working watermen.