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Regulars

This time of year, a bird eats what it can get

      Great blue herons in the Chesapeake Bay area do not migrate in the winter. They struggle to find food when the waters freeze. They will look to areas of flowing water and sometimes stake out grassy fields to catch mice and small birds.        Herons from the snowier north usually migrate to warmer climates.       This Chesapeake heron has caught a hogchoker.

Is January 23 just another so what, like National ­Popcorn Day?

       It was no fun writing lessons in cursive, and no better in the hybrid connected printing I developed in obedient defiance to the nuns’ complaints of my handwriting’s illegibility. My mother couldn’t read anything I wrote, either, which may be why she insisted I take typing in high school summer school. On my own, I signed up at the same public school to learn Chancery script, a pretty Renaissance cursive. I’ve used both skills throughout my life.

Here’s how to water and repot them

     Orchids are so popular nowadays that they are being offered for sale not only in garden centers but also in drug stores and grocery stores as well as big box stores.          As houseplants, they have the advantage of producing flowers over a long period of time. They tolerate shade and perform well even when abused. They are also light to ship.

Most Baltimore orioles head south … Not this one

     This Baltimore oriole failed to migrate. Orioles usually fly down to Central and South America and winter in the warmth. Occasionally a bird will stay behind and tough it out in the cold. I think this is the second year for this bird to winter-over; one of its stops is my backyard in Riva.

It’s not always a straight path 

      Like a holiday box of chocolates (thanks Bill Vance, Betsy and Alex), this week’s paper brings you a variety of choices, all I hope to your taste. (And none, I hope, that sticky cough-medicine flavor that makes you say yuck!)

There’s a lot of work if you’re going to harvest your own fruit

      A Bay Weekly reader bragged to me that he’d created an apple orchard by planting a single tree.       “So you purchased one of those trees with four to five varieties of apples,” I replied.       He was crestfallen at failing to fool me.

Not so good? We’ve got you covered there, too

      Very often, my newspaper gives me just what I want. Plenty of puzzles to work over the splendidly empty days after Christmas. Insight into the world around me, from my community to the cosmos. Advertisers to fix what’s broken and bring me unexpected benefits, like the Pashmina shawl from Green Phoenix that’s kept me warm since Christmas.

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.