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A chronology of fun, fare and festivals stretching from the autumnal equinox to Thanksgiving

Read this week’s paper with caution; it could lead you astray

Perpetual disaster Bridget Jones grows up a bit in this comedy

Take your hike to the next level

Like tea-party guests, they’ve visited before, will they be back?

Scan the west after sunset

After last month’s near-passing asteroid and the exploding meteorite over Siberia, we have another interloper passing through: Comet Pan-STARRS. Given clear skies and an unobstructed view of the west horizon at dusk, you can spot this comet over the coming week.     Sunday, March 10 marks its closest approach to the sun and thus its brightest appearance. But the comet doesn’t reach its highest point in our skies until March 20, when you may be able to spot it as late...

Overcoming the sins of the father — and the fatherland

What if the people who loved you turned out to be monsters? Could you change your worldview to survive in this new order? Or would the truth end up swallowing you whole?     Fourteen-year-old Lore (Saskia Rosendahl: Für Elise) lives an idyllic life in World War II Germany. Blonde and blue-eyed, she’s the picture of youthful innocence, still more child than woman as she romps through fields in suspendered skirts and Heidi braids.     A high-ranking SS...

In vernal pools, renewal is under way

This time of year, marbled salamander tadpoles are already swimming through the shallow waters of vernal pools. Vernal pools are temporary wetland habitats in our forests. They hold water long enough during spring to attract special animals that you aren’t likely to see anywhere else. Then the pools dry up, so fish and other large predators can’t live there.     What is that? visitors want to know of the oddities they see when exploring a vernal pool at Jug Bay...

Here’s to Magic Weisner, Laura Neuman and the power of possibility

The Odd Chance In 2002, a Maryland dark horse named Magic Weisner came within a half-length of stealing the Preakness Stakes from front runner War Emblem. Local small-scale trainer Nancy Alberts believed in Magic, who she named for the vet who saved the magically resilient foal’s life. That horse could run.     Cheering with the rest of Maryland, I followed the story to Laurel Racetrack, where I interviewed Alberts and Magic.     Odd chance has been again...

And earn you a buck a bushel

Oyster shells could be worth more than the change in your pocket if the Oyster Recovery Partnership can talk the political talk.     The nonprofit Partnership, which has planted four billion seed oysters in its work for recovery, is now seeking to persuade legislators to pass a bill giving a $1 tax credit for every bushel of oyster shells you recycle.     Shells are desperately needed to make habitats for new oyster families and the communities they support....

Red Wigglers demonstrate the inside story of composting

Red Wiggler worms are busy digging and dining in a compost Can-O-Worms at Annmarie Garden.     Second graders visiting Annmarie Garden on daily CHESPAX field trips explore the world of composting with a little help from the Garden’s squirmy residents, about a thousand in all.     Red Wiggler worms, along with eight volunteers who do the talking, teach the students hands-on and practical ways to go green in their daily lives.     “The...

Crossword creator Ben Tausig wins Orca award for Best Crossword

When your favorite movie wins an Oscar, you can say I was there — virtually.     You’ve gotten closer than that in the world of puzzles if you’ve matched wits with Ben Tausig, winner of the Orca for Best Crossword of 2012.     Like the Oscars, the Orcas are awarded by insiders, the followers of Sam Donaldson’s blog, Diary of a Crossword Fiend.     Tausig’s March 28, 2012 puzzle, published in The Onion A.V. Club, won...

Gardening expert Rick Darke strives to create “liveable landscapes” using both natives and exotics

You won’t find the word invasive — at least in connection with plants — in gardener, award-winning author, photographer and consultant Rick Darke’s vocabulary. Meet him on March 2, when he makes the trek from his garden oasis in Pennsylvania to Annapolis, and you’ll hear about balancing natives and exotics in the garden. His talk and slide show come at just the right time for gardeners thinking about spring plantings.     For Darke, what to include...

We pay our way; commercial fishermen should, too

Recreational fishing license fees have been increased twice in recent years to meet shortfalls in the Department of Natural Resource’s operating budget for the administration of recreational programs. As a result, DNR brings in enough money to fund its sport-fishing management, including police enforcement.     In contrast, commercial license fees have stayed steady for almost 20 years. DNR’s increasing costs for managing commercial fishing — administration,...

Snatch branches from pussy willows and flowering shrubs

Pussy willows are busting out all over. Forsythia buds are starting to swell as are flowering quince, cherries, almond, weigela and crab apples.     Cut those pussy willows ASAP and tie them in small bunches. Then hang them upside down in a darkened shed or garage so they will dry straight. If you dry them standing, the catkins will bend outward and separate from the stems more easily. Do not put the stems of fresh-cut pussy willow in water. Looking for Gita Beans...