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We’ve saved the best for last.
    That’s Best of the Bay, Bay Weekly’s 17th annual report on what, and who, gives you the most satisfaction in Chesapeake Country.
    I love this issue because of its scope.
    First, Bay Weekly’s Best of the Bay encompasses more than 200 ­categories ranging from Best Crab Soup, Best Overall Restaurant, Best Gift Shop, Best View and many more.
    Second, it compiles a vast range of knowledge and insight gathered from community experts — you.
    With scope like that, Bay Weekly’s Best of the Bay will steer you widely and well.
    That’s why readers tell me they value Bay Weekly’s Best of the Bay.
    And you know, readers are always right. I know, because every year, Best of the Bay makes me one of you.
    Thanks for the good guidance! May we all use it widely and well in 2015.


Best Neighborhood Bar Best Happy Hour Best Bloody Mary Best Cheap Drinks Best Juke Box Happy Harbor 533 Deale Rd., Deale, 410-867-0949, ­www.happyharbordeale.com Happy Harbor bartenders Lori and Jason. Best Bakery, Kate’s at Zü Best Coffee House Friendliest Wait Staff Best WiFi Hot Spot Best New Business of 2014, Zü Coffee, Gambrills Zü Coffee • 934 Bay Ridge Road, Annapolis, 410-990-0731, • 2638 Chapel...

One man proves the human spirit is immeasurable in this war drama

Louis Zamperini (Jack O’Connell: 300: Rise of an Empire) lived enough for three men in his first 30 years. As a teen, the son of Italian immigrants was a petty thief. His brother suggests that instead of running from the police, Louis should put his speed to work. Throwing his energy into training, he earns a slot on the Olympic track team.     After an impressive performance at the games, World War II interrupts his plans, and Louis becomes a bombardier in the Pacific...

This time of year, even Congress takes a worldwide view

With Capitol Hill intractably divided, juggling the fallout of the midterm elections, the CIA Torture Report and local law enforcement controversy across the country, it seems an unlikely time to turn our attention abroad toward foreign aid.     Yet that’s what Congress did.     On December 15, the Senate joined the House in unanimously passing the Water for the World Act. According to the Senate Foreign Relations committee, 750 million people lack access...

Our family visits make us ­reconcile good and evil
 

Once more this year, my family and I spent part of the Christmas season in Germany. The tradition began because of my husband Jonathan’s good memories of the year his family lived in Munich, when he was 10. Street vendors sell wurst in ­the Christkindlmärkte in Nuremberg.     We go because Christmas in Germany is magical. Outdoor markets — die Christkindlmärkte — enliven every city’s square, many since the Middle Ages, with brightly lit wooden...

Fresh from the woods, we dug up more than we bargained for

The family agreed. This shapely 10-foot Norway spruce with beautifully spaced branches was our perfect Christmas tree. After Christmas, the living tree would find a new home in a corner of our half-acre lot.     But this was an out-of-the-way farm, and the tree digger was unavailable. So we would have to wait a few days before we could take The Tree home.     No problem. Christmas was four weeks away.     The next week it rained. “When are...

After nearly 50 Christmases in the department store’s windows, he’s now part of my family’s tradition

A life-size Santa Claus — donned in authentic red velvet suit, black belt and patent leather boots with a full angel-hair-spun beard — stands by my living room window all year round.     He’s too fragile a chapter of history to stuff away in a corner of my two-car garage.     I met Santa at a yard sale in a Calvert County barn. His $250 price tag was a bit steep for my budget. But I was fascinated with him and kept going back to touch his silky...

Orphaned Wildlife Rescue Center plays Santa to injured critters but needs your help

Dozens of raptors were among the thousands of animals rescued this year by the Orphaned Wildlife Rescue Center in Lusby.     One stands out for her size and the relationship she formed with her rescuers.     Big Bird, as she was called, was rescued from a farm in southern Maryland. A nesting mother with three babies and a mate in a nearby tree, she had a broken left wing. What caused her injuries was never learned.     “This magnificent bald...
The light is thin this time of year. But the sun shines bright enough on its rising and falling arc to gild everything in its path: windows, tree trunks, the marsala leaves of oaks, clouds and the heavens. That arc is brief, however, as we inch toward the darkest day of the year. On winter solstice, December 21, the sun gives us only nine hours and 28 minutes of light.     Snatch the light while you can, my instincts tell me, so I watch the long dawn. Sitting through the late...

DNR’s calendar makes your indoors out

With your 2014 calendar just about used up, what are you going to hang on the wall in 2015 to replace it?     Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ 2015 calendar is a best bet for us whose lifestyles keep us inside looking at walls rather than out in Maryland’s beauty.     The 12 photos are creamed from over 800 shot in 2014 by Marylanders who spend plenty of time outdoors, keeping their eyes open and cameras ready to capture beauties small to...

There is more to victory than lights and superstition

About the annual Army-Navy football game, superstitions abound.     When I lived across from the Academy, I’d get up in the chilly dark of morning and stand on the cliff, waving good luck to the busses parked along the seawall to leave with the Brigade.       When my wife and I moved to Annapolis, I needed a new ritual. Now I decorate the tulip magnolia in front of our house. When I can no longer watch Navy screw up on the field, I go outside and...