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Into gifts that can change lives

Six small ways Chesapeake neighbors are making a better world 

Play Santa in ways that matter

How to sing Messiah for St. James’ sing-along

Coming our way from Kootenai National Forest, Montana

You can catch a fish, but take care not to catch hypothermia

A missive 20 years delayed sent me into my future

     What is a miracle? Some may say it is the touch of a loved one, reaching deep into one’s heart to caress the soul. Others may say it is the vast mystery of the world, laying softly on the hills and whispering through grass and leaves.      To me, a miracle is a postcard.      The day was November 23, 2014. I had just come home for Thanksgiving break. My mother went to check the mail and came back in with a postcard. The card, slightly...

Michael Bell’s new book explores life as teacher, artist and parent

     Michael Bell is no stranger to success. The Southern High School arts department chair and celebrity artist has catapulted the school’s art program into the national spotlight over the last 22 years, winning major awards annually and transforming the lives of his students.      “My art department at Southern is almost like the Lakers of the old days,” Bell told me. “We keep winning, and people keep waiting for us to not win anymore. It...
Seven additions in AACo makes 56 properties in permanent preservation
     You can’t protect the water if you can’t protect the land.      Light bulb or lightening bolt, that realization led Dick Lahn, of Crofton, to the capstone achievement of a lifetime of environmental campaigns.       Lahn’s personal success is a still bigger deal for environmental protection. He has linked 56 environmentally significant Maryland land parcels on both shores in a network of permanent preservation.  ...

One big, happy fungi family

     As summer ends, toadstools seem to appear from nowhere.      Technically speaking, a toadstool is a mushroom is a fungus — the same. They are all the fleshy, fruiting bodies growing above ground with a stem, a cap and pores or gills. While it may seem they pop up overnight after a rain, they have been growing for days or weeks. Beneath ground, their inner-connecting root systems can tangle over great distances. (In Oregon, a giant mushroom infiltrates 2,...

Maryland in Miniature tucked behind Annapolis DNR building

     This Himalayan cedar, Deodora cedarosa, is the fifth largest tree of its kind in the state. It is so tall, to take a picture of the top you have to lean back, almost to a backbend. Even so, the top of the tree won’t be in the frame.      Normally, to get this close to a tree of this size you would have to drive into the woods. Once there, you have to hike out, maybe even go camping. Don’t forget water, bug spray and checking for ticks on the way...

As daylight and temperatures drop, fish alter their feeding habits

     Fishing, especially for rockfish, is about to get better. Decreasing temperatures mean that baitfish of all types —peanut bunker, silversides, anchovies, spot, yearling white perch and baby croaker — are moving toward deeper water.      The days are also getting shorter, with the sun rising about a minute later every morning and setting about a minute earlier each evening. While not particularly noticeable to us over the short term, it definitely...

Understanding plants' nutritional needs is the key to good gardening

     This year’s fruit on my American hollies is very heavy. That gives me a job to do. Unless I give them additional nitrogen by mid-September, their foliage will be yellow-green instead of a rich dark green that will better show off the bright red berries.      Plants that produce a heavy set of fruit tend to have lighter-colored foliage. This happens because the nitrogen in the plant is mobile. If the roots cannot obtain sufficient nitrogen from the soil...

Killer clowns and childhood traumas populate this fearsome thriller

     In the sleepy town of Derry, Maine, six-year-old Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott: Fear the Walking Dead) goes out to play in the rain and is never seen again. It should be shocking, but Derry’s children tend to disappear.      Georgie’s older brother Bill (Jaeden Lieberher: The Book of Henry), isn’t so quick to forget. Bill has the support of his friends, the self-dubbed Losers’ Club, a ragtag band of 11-year-olds who are mercilessly...

Women fight their Civil War as ­battlefield reenactors in this comedy with conscience

       How aptly Colonial Players’ season-opener reflects current events the company could not have predicted a year ago, when Doris Baizley’s Shiloh Rules was booked. As the nation continues to struggle with issues left over from the Civil War, this light-hearted 2009 drama is art imitating life in a world where art imitates life: the venue of battlefield reenactors. It’s called Shiloh Rules because in this game, as in battle, there are no rules (that...

Volkswagen’s dirty deeds could mean cleaner school buses in Maryland

     Now that school is open, drivers have plenty of behind-the-bus time to consider whether these yellow icons are ready for a makeover.      Would you rather idle behind a diesel bus or an electric one?       If your answer is electric, you’ve got an intuitive grip on the Maryland League of Conservation Voters’ Clean Buses for Healthy Niños campaign.      The campaign targets “our aging fleet of toxic diesel...