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Our best family night at the theater — ever

Not all Christmas trees are equal

He has many faces; here you’ll see some

Where will he be on Christmas Eve?

Spoiler alert: Don’t let the kids read this

Venison is benison to area food banks

Why is this the state sport?

Maryland is the first state to have a designated state sport. Jousting became our sport in 1962, when State Sen. Henry J. Fowler Sr., a jouster from Southern Maryland, proposed the bill. The General Assembly passed the bill, and Gov. Millard Tawes signed it into law. Jousting became Maryland’s seventh state symbol, following the state flag, flower, song, tree, bird and seal.     In 2004, Lacrosse became our official team sport. We now have 26 state symbols. The most recent...

Beauty of the sky a beast in the water

Dragonflies zoom and hover in the August air.     These acrobatic fliers older than dinosaurs have populated the earth for more than 300 million years. They spend just a few months performing aerial feats of wonder after emerging from an underwater childhood lasting as long as four years.     Female dragonflies lay their eggs in fresh water; the presence of dragonfly nymphs is an indicator of good water quality. The nymph looks nothing like the pretty fliers we...

Take a book, leave a book

The Little Free Library at 9100 Greenwood Ave. in North Beach joins some 36,000 front-yard book-lenders in 70 countries, from Iceland to Tasmania to Australia.     Library stewards Gary Stevens and Meredith Allen have stocked their Little Free Library with a variety of used books for readers of all ages to take a book and leave a book.     “We’re excited to join the Little Free Library movement as North Beach’s first official location and...

Precious time is ticking away

This time of year makes you think like that.         If seasons had clocks to tell the passing of their days, we’d read the numbers 8:25 with advancing insight.     Ah, it’s getting late, we’d think. Insects have struck up their string and tympanic bands. Even early in the day, the light has a melancholy radiance that reminds me of the lost moments of old photographs. School busses are rolling and kids waking with the sun rather...

Trotline your way to a pickin’ party

Heading out from the ramp in a late morning sortie for white perch, I encountered a solo crabber’s boat at the edge of the channel. He was pulling in his trotline from the stern and looked up as my skiff approached.     Seeking info on the crab catch, I gave him the sign language gesture asking how he was doing (arms open and a questioning look on my face). Shaking his head. he indicated problems. I killed my engine and drifted closer.     “My line...

If you use this powerful herbicide, be sure you use it right

Roundup has its uses, but before you consider spraying the herbicide, you should know what it’s good for — how damaging it can be and where it does no good, even ill.     Roundup kills plants by degrading the mitochondria in the roots. I began studying Roundup in 1976, when it was called glyphosate. Our research established rates of application, best time of application, plant response and phytotoxicity on desirable plants. Since then, we have learned a great deal...

A boy learns the power of a good story in this exceptional animated film

If you must blink, do it now.           So begins the story of young Kubo (voiced by Art Parkinson: Game of Thrones), a troubadour in ancient Japan. Each day in the square he tells fantastical tales of the Moon King and the brave warrior Hanzo who fights him. As he weaves his tale, Kubo plays his shamisen as origami to come to life to act out his story. Villagers gather to watch and shower Kubo with coins.     The most fantastical thing about Kubo...

How some of the world’s most famous art found safe refuge in early-America’s Annapolis

You’d want to know if you were neighbor to a secret treasure of masterpieces.     So I’m telling you.     Sixty-three paintings by great Northern European masters — Jan Breughel, Rubens and Van Dyck among them — lived quietly in Annapolis for two years, and Prince George’s County for 16 more years.     “There was no collection of old master paintings remotely like it in this country,” says Arthur Wheelock...

That’s Charles Baker, streetside entertainer

On the corner of Ego Alley and City Dock at weekends when the weather is at its best, The Balloon Man pumps and twists latex into masterpieces to tickle kids and tease the stiffness out of adults.     On an average sunny Saturday, Charles Baker makes up to 100 balloons from Elmos to penguins, flowers to swords.     “My grandson thinks he is grandpa,” says a customer. “I am sure it’s the grey hair.” The grandson brandishes an inflated...

Chesapeake Curiosities: Battle Creek Cypress Swamp is the northernmost of its kind

A habitat unique in Maryland flourishes just south of Prince Frederick. Battle Creek Cypress Swamp is one of the nation’s northernmost naturally occurring stands of bald cypress trees.     “It’s actually a bit of a mystery why the swamp is here, as we don’t see similar stands of trees in other low-lying swampy areas of the county,” says Shannon Steele, Calvert County naturalist.     In 1957, the Nature Conservancy purchased 100 acres...