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Plenty to do until you can get back on the water

     As our new year begins, opening day of trophy rockfish season, April 21, 2018, is a little over 100 days away. That opener is almost a week later this year than last (by regulation the third Saturday in April), meaning a bit of extra protection for the big spawners, which is a good thing. Last season’s Young of Year rockfish count was above average for the second year in a row, a great harbinger for better fishing throughout the Chesapeake.

Some of what you see is too good to be true

      Seed catalogs fill my mailbox every day. If you’ve ever ordered seeds or plants, I bet yours is filled, too. Every picture and possibility looks good this time of year. But can you trust everything you read in these appealing pages?
Help Bend the Arc of the Universe       The holiday season invites us not only to make resolutions for the New Year but also to reflect on our lives and our actions, our values and beliefs. It is the time when we turn the corner of the calendar from the darkest days to increasing light.
Good stories to warm your holiday heart 
      Journalism is about good stories. For us writers and editors, the search for a good story has the urgency of a primal drive. The phrase a nose for news is high praise, alluding to the hound in a good reporter. Like bloodhound or beagle, we have it in our nature to sniff out what’s around. Catch a scent, and we can’t let it go. We need to know who’s doing what, when, where, how, why.

Eagles mark a turn toward the ­season of birth

     Editor’s note: Naturalist, artist and conservationist John W. ‘Bud’ Taylor left us this year, on October 28, but his legacy of hope survives. Bud’s keen observations of nature in Chesapeake Country tell us that spring begins here on the winter solstice, December 21, when daylight begins its six-month, minute-by-minute stretch. His book Chesapeake Spring collects his observations and paintings of that season.

A beautiful fairy tale for fish out of water 

     Orphan Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins: Maudie) knows hard times. Mute since a childhood throat slashing, she works as an unnoticed janitor at a secret government facility in Baltimore.       Her life ticks by in lonely minutes until agent Strickland (Michael Shannon: Nocturnal Animals) introduces an amphibious humanoid called the Asset. Worshiped as a god in South America, the Asset was captured to add to America’s Cold War arsenal. 

Empathy and imagination light the way 

     The perfect gift? Satisfying that standard is too heavy a burden to bear any time of the year, especially in this season dedicated to rekindling hope, faith and charity. The right gift will do just fine — if only I can find it. Actually, them — for it’s several people for whom I’m still seeking good matches.       Helping us all make good matches in these waning days of the season of gift seeking is our mission in this week’s paper.

’Tis the season for owls

     Santa’s not the only flyer of the December night skies. ‘Tis also the season for owls.      Most owls are hard to see, so we usually only hear them. But once the leaves fall, it’s a little easier to catch a glimpse of these secretive night hunters. 

Gifts they’ll really appreciate

     What to give the dedicated Chesapeake Bay angler on your list?      The most helpful suggestion I can offer — if you haven’t already received exact, specific instructions from the individual in question — is to remember the Rule of Don’t.

Break, don’t prune the branches

     Make attractive, long-lasting holiday decorations from boxwood and you’ll be keeping your plants both healthy and good-looking.      The woody European native here since the mid-17th century is best pruned when near-freezing temperatures make the boxwood branches very brittle.