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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...

Our new home welcomed us by testing our resourcefulness

Clara and I moved piece by piece to our new home in Deale. We started moving our belongings from College Park on Thanksgiving Day of 1990, using our station wagon and neighbors’ trucks. Most of the move was made on weekends. Mid-week, one of us would make the trip to Deale to feed Pumpkin, the cat left behind by the previous owners. We selected the name Upakrik Farm while eating dinner in a restaurant in Wayson’s Corner on a return trip to College Park.     We...

Fish, fowl, venison — and winter greens

Eating wild is a priority at my family’s table. During the Christmas and New Year holidays, we feature treats we’ve harvested from the wild. Following are a few favorites. Appetizers Rockfish Ceviche Two rockfish fillets or other firm, white fish (about 1.5 lbs.), sliced into pieces approximately ½ x 2 inches 1 Tbsp. salt 2 Tbsp. olive oil. 1½ large sweet onions, cut in half lengthwise, then very thinly sliced 2 to 3 large cloves of garlic, minced 1 handful of...

Feel the tension of holding fate in your hands

Twelve Angry Men was first produced in the mid-1950s as a play for television, then reworked for the stage and, of course, the famed movie with an all-star cast led by Henry Fonda. Having sat through the trial of an inner-city young man accused of murder, the all-male jury must come up with a unanimous decision of guilty or not guilty. On first vote, it’s 11-1 in favor of guilty. The lone holdout — a meticulous middle-aged man sticking to his convictions among 11 of his peers who...