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The crabs are back and the corn’s ripe, so it’s time to feast

by Sandra Olivetti Martin and Dennis Doyle with Michelle Steel The Bay is crawling with crabs. Rivers and creeks, too. That’s the good news. We had more baby crabs this winter than have ever been counted in Maryland’s 22-year history of winter crab surveying.     Not so good: We’ll have to wait till fall to eat most of them. That’s when 500 million or so small crabs in our waters will reach eating size, 51⁄4 inches from point to point.  ...

If the bigger the better sets your standard for crab feasts, you’ll find happiness, crabs and company at three upcoming festivals, each a Maryland tradition.

Wednesday July 18: The 36th annual J. Millard Tawes Crab and Clam Bake in Crisfield, the crab capital of the world.     Devour all the steamed crabs, fried fish, clams, corn on the cob, sweet potato fries, onion rings you can. Wash it all down with endless water, soda or beer. Cap your feast with a juicy slice of watermelon. The feast honors former governor J. Millard Tawes and, during election years, brings in bushels of politicians as well as seafood. 12-4pm, Somers Cove...

Jones Station Severna Park Farmers Market celebrates 25 years

A sensory feast — colorful fruits and veggies, fresh eggs and meat, well-tended ornamental plants along with herbs and veggie plants — that’s the main reason to go to a farmers market. But education and the ability to speak directly with producers run a close second. At the Jones Station Farmers Market, education includes beekeeper and honey seller Peter Quinton’s display of what bees do to make honey and Lori Beard spinning wool roving into yarn.     If...

Baby birds growing bigger

Nests throughout Chesapeake Country are full of baby birds. Fluffy young osprey are learning to tear their fish into bites in nests topping nearly every channel marker and many utility poles. Mom and Pop Osprey are still delivering the fish to their fast-growing babies.     These youngsters have big things ahead of them, starting with learning to feed themselves. Their parents’ care ends sometime over the next two months. By September, the fledglings will be on their own,...

The emerald ash borer chews half of Maryland

Nothing may seem amiss, but the entire western half of Maryland is now a quarantine area. In 14 counties west of the Chesapeake and Susquehanna, Maryland Department of Agriculture has found evidence of the emerald ash borer. The destructive Asiatic beetle, which has conquered the west in nine years, kills ash trees from the inside out.     The threat the half-inch-long bugs pose is grave. Ash are shade trees for much of urban Maryland. Ones that have fallen prey to the borers...

No need to check your eyes, that was Kevin Spacey in Annapolis

No, you’re not seeing things.         When you thought you saw Kevin Spacey getting coffee at 49 West, drinking martinis on Metropolitan’s roof deck or throwing darts at Stan & Joe’s it wasn’t a mirage from the extreme heat wave and lack of air conditioning. It was Keyser Soze, seriously.     Spacey, in Baltimore filming the Netflix production House of Cards, has been frequenting Annapolis hot spots. According to Men...

 Go to summer school for TEAM DNR and you’ll be teaching come fall

“I’m proud of you that you can name all the states in our watershed and not miss any,” said longtime TEAM DNR volunteer Penny Vahsen to fourth-graders at West Annapolis Elementary School. “Some students say California is part of our watershed.”     Not Candice Gaylon’s class this past school year. They’re up on buffers, erosion and water pollution.     Volunteers from TEAM DNR — Teaching Environmental Awareness in...

Ancient wisdom from the days before AC

One by one, we’re getting back in touch with the grid. By July 3, electricity was restored to three out of four households that lost power to June 29’s derecho. The storm has taught us all a new word and reminded us of some old coping skills.     Even with power on, high summer is Mother Nature’s test of her creatures’ toughness. Over the last half-century, we’ve depended on human ingenuity to skip most of her regularly scheduled tests. But her pop...

I use fences, smells and my dog

Squirrels, rabbits, ground hogs and deer are a common problem in home vegetable gardens. I surround my garden with a four-foot-high four-inch-by-two-inch turkey fence supported by steel fence posts at 10-foot intervals. I also attach an 18-inch-wide pullet fence at the bottom with hog-nose rings. Groundhogs will not climb the turkey fence with the bottom pullet fence. They try but fall backwards because the pullet fence is loosely attached. The bottom edge is buried two to three inches deep to...

Get up early to find the fish and beat the heat

We were drifting quietly well off the mouth of the Severn in 30 feet of water. It was not yet sunrise but the first blush of daylight lit the water’s surface well enough to show some very nervous schools of baitfish swimming around us.     Here and there small menhaden — peanut bunker — would shower into the air, fleeing something sinister below. There must have been a heck of a spawn this spring because I don’t believe I’ve ever seen so many...