Volume 1 Issue 3 1993

Previously inaccessible archives from 1993-1997 now coming on-line, with more each week! Note that this is working copy (uncorrected text, no photos, including covers).

Bay-Friendly Farming | Scouts of the Sea: Explorer Ship 741 | Dock of the Bay | Bay Life | Editorial |
Letters to the Editor | Commentary | Appreciation |
Bay Reflections | Who's Here | Diversion & Excursion
Creature Feature | Laughing Gourment

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Bay-Friendly Farming
Beltsville is Saving the Bay with Tomatoes
by Sandra Martin

The tomatoes from Aref Abdul-Baki’s 5,000 plants will never be eaten.

They’ll be counted, graded, weighed, and compared—but not consumed.

They’ll live and die for science. For the Chesapeake Bay. Perhaps for the world.

If Abdul-Baki is right, his tomatoes could show us how to just about eliminate two of three main farm sources of pollution to the Chesapeake, nitrogen and erosion.

Nitrogen seepage from farms, wastewater and homes has been fingered as a chief culprit to restoring the Bay, with sediment runoff close behind. These problems are the most vexing because their source can be far away.

Abdul-Baki, a confident scientist, is betting that he is right about finding solutions.

“I understand what mankind is doing to this earth. I might say to hell with it if we had any other environment to live in, but we don’t. We’ve got to do better. With all our knowledge, we can do better.”

Doing better is not in the tomato, eggplant, blueberry or peach, but in how it’s grown. “We are returning to nature to do the work for us, for free. We plant seed and the plants take care of everything else,” says Abdul-Baki.

Abdul-Baki was born among olive groves: his ancestors grew grapes, figs, and apples on Mount Lebanon. His scientific method has had several thousand years of testing. As the ancient Chinese, Greeks, and Romans farmed, so does he.

The key to his research is this: standard methods for vegetable farming leave the earth bare for most of the year. That is the main problem. He keeps it covered.

Even when farmers roll out great lengths of black plastic mulch to cover their seed beds, Maryland’s light, clay-colored fields are naked from September to May—naked to the howling winds and beating storms of fall, winter and spring. Even in summer, plastic mulch doesn’t prevent erosion. Go out in a field after a May cloudburst, and you’ll see the field rushing away as if the furrows were drains.

Fields have no more business being naked than we do, Abdul-Baki suggests, eyes flashing with the certainty of one who has not only seen the truth but also can show truth to you. Come to the Sustainable Agricultural Research Service at Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, where Abdul-Baki’s gardens grow, and you’ll see the irresistible logic of fields that never go naked. “Why should I tell you my way is better when your own eyes can tell you?” Abdul-Baki crows, triumphant.

It’s late May, time and passed to put in the tomatoes. But first, in Abdul-Baki’s pet fields, the crop already growing there must be cut. So today two scientists, Abdul-Baki and plant physiologist John Teasdale, are supervising the mowing, tinkering to chop the robust vetch and clover legumes into a proper mulch.

The clover has reached bee-bountiful bloom; its crimson heads fly under the blade. In the next row over, hairy vetch, which untangled stretches as high as a man’s chest, dies before blooming. Planted last September, these legumes have been working fall and spring to make a fertile bed for Abdul-Baki’s tomatoes. Since Maryland’s growing season lasts until Thanksgiving, the fall green sprouts had a couple months to grow strong. Their tenacious young roots held the soil in place all winter. With warming weather, growth began apace, with root growth equaling green growth until each row was a hearty plant tangle, moist and impervious to erosion.

While the legumes were at work “for free, uncared for and unbabied,” barren fields would have been eroding. Then in would have come the farmer to plough, fertilize, and possibly fumigate. The heavy tractor would compact the soil, ploughing would mince the earth-working worms. Gasoline would add its toll to the atmosphere’s burden, fertilizer would seep into our ground water and run into our surface water, and chemicals would worry consumers.

Abdul-Baki’s way, savings add up on every score. “Our saving on fertilizer, on plastics, and cultivation amount to at least $1,500 per acre. Add in the incalculable, intangible benefits of preserving soil and increasing fertility, and our savings amount to saving life itself,” says Abdul-Baki.

But the real mystery of Abdul-Baki’s sustainable farming is invisible. For the air around us is full of the nitrogen plants crave. And those very legumes, crimson clover and hairy vetch, capture that nitrogen from the air, fixing as much as five pounds per acre each day to feed the vegetables that will take their place.

So when Abdul-Baki’s tomatoes are drilled into their untilled field, their free nitrogen fertilizer is waiting for them. The mowed legume beds them in a sweet surround of green mulch that, decaying, adds organic matter to the soil to enrich, moisturize, and maintain higher water-holding capacity.

Hardly any weeds, of course, can penetrate that cover.

So Abdul-Baki’s tomato plants grow verdant and will be heavy with fruit. “We feel we are developing a safe farming system for the next century, which we hope the world will adopt,” he says.

But how will Abdul-Baki’s tomatoes taste?

You’ll have to find out for yourself. “Test the method on a small scale and compare the results,” Abdul-Baki advises. Over 300 farmers around the world are doing just that. His fan mail spans the United States; farmers in his footsteps live as far away as Swaziland.

All of Abdul-Baki’s tomatoes are dedicated to science, but he says, privately, that they are sweet and good.

Learn more from Abdul-Baki himself at U.S. Department of Agriculture; Vegetable Laboratory, Room 210, Building 004, BARC-W; Beltsville, MD 20705; 301/504-5057.

Pennsylvania to Farmers: Choke Off Pollution Now
Baysiders are smiling at news that Pennsylvania appears set, after six years of debate, to force curbs on the flow of fertilizer and manure into the Susquehanna River, lifeline of the Chesapeake.

Pennsylvania Gov. Robert Casey is expected to sign a bill passed on the Senate on May 5, requiring farmers with large herds of livestock to control the use and destination of pollutants.

“We’re after the bad actors,” said Pennsylvania Rep. Jeffrey Coy, sponsor of the bill. “We admit we have some of them.”

The legislation could go a ways in getting a grip on the biggest source of pollution heading our way: nutrients. Nutrients produce unwanted algae that siphons underwater oxygen, destroying grasses and snuffing out fragile Bay life.

The Chesapeake Bay Alliance—an effort by states surrounding the Bay—is just now turning its attention to nutrient pollution from the Bay’s rivers and creeks.

Maryland officials intend to hold the second in a series of public meetings next month, there laying out options for managing nutrient threats. Nutrients—nitrogen and phosphorus—also come from wastewater plants and homes. (See editorial in this issue.)

The 440-mile Susquehanna River is the Bay’s largest source of fresh water, as well as of pollution.

Pennsylvania’s move is heartening as well as challenging to Maryland and Virginia. When the Pennsylvania law kicks in, both Bay states will be lagging well behind their neighbor to the north in controlling agriculture run-off.

“Our actions have been much too weak,” Maryland state Sen. Gerald Winegrad, a noted environmental advocate, told the Associated Press.

Winegrad, who has sponsored a bill to control farm pollution, won’t be around to see it bloom. He announced recently that he is leaving the senate.

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Scouts of the Sea: Explorer Ship 741
by Sonia Linebaugh

A May Saturday on the Chesapeake Bay—sunny and 78 degrees. High tide receding. Waves less than one foot. Winds less than 10 knots out of the southeast.

A young man and three boys rig a Sunfish for the first time this season and set out on a brief sail in Herring Bay, complaining as they step into the spring-cold water to push off. Skipper John Watts is the new adult leader of Sea Explorer Ship 741 of Deale. The boys—Owen Carr, Chip Hunt, and Shannon Breen—are some of its newest members. They make a smooth circuit out to a swim platform and back for the photographer, then ask to do it again.

Chartered on April 30, 1990, sponsored and supported by the Deale Elks, Ship 741 joined seven other Sea Explorer groups in the Bay area teaching teens the skills and fun of sailing, teamwork, leadership and camaraderie.

“The coolest thing we’ve done was sail from Baltimore to Norfolk on the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter The Mohawk,” says Karen Mauck, a graduate member. It took all weekend. We stopped in mid-trip and got to start the engines. The weather was sunny and mild and the crew treated us great, I guess because we were guests of the captain.” Captain Andrew Cascardi was at the time skipper of Ship 741.

“I slept on a couch,” Karen continued. “The boys slept in the bunk room with the crew. The toughest part was that we had to get up at 4 a.m. to stand watch just like the crew. I was tired and we didn’t get breakfast until 5:30.”

The Mohawk continued on to its new station in Wilmington, North Carolina, while the Sea Explorers returned home by car.
“Regatta is definitely the best part,” says Austin Smith, boatswain—that’s president in civilian terms. Smith, a member since 1990, is a veteran of two regattas. The Henry I. Nygard Regatta is held every Memorial Day Weekend at Patuxent Naval Air Station in Lexington Park. As many as 25 ships from Maryland, Pennsylvania and Delaware attend from places like Bethesda, Bowie, Aberdeen, Baltimore and York, PA.

“We get together and learn about each other and test our skills.” Events include canoe slalom, sailboat racing, heaving line, life ring toss, boatswain’s chair lift-wrapping a rope around another Explorer and using a pulley to haul him or her up into a tree-obstacle course, chart reading and navigation. “We’re pretty much competitive on everything,” says Smith. “We’ve won heaving line, life ring toss, canoe slalom and sailing races.”

There’s also a uniform inspection by a naval air officer. Some Sea Explorer ships have dress white officers’ uniforms; others have enlisted men’s whites with the bellbottom pants and big-collared jumpers. All wear traditional Navy cup caps.

Ship 741 goes for a more casual look much admired by other Explorers, suffering in their unaccustomed starch. This group wears dark blue sweat shorts, white polo shirts with their insignia and rank, naval cadet hats—white sailors' hats with blue trim—and white deck shoes.

Visiting Explorers sleep in barracks or in tents, swim at the base pool, visit and compete. Then on Sunday night, “the dance at the Officers Club is the grand finale.”

A hundred kids sway together in group dance to the latest high-decible tunes while adult leaders and visiting parents shout at one another on the sidelines. Monday, there’s still the early morning Awards Ceremony. Then packing up and going home—until Labor Day Weekend’s Snug Harbor.
Sea Explorers is one of the programs chartered under the Boy Scouts of America. The program is open to boys and girls, 14 and over. Doug Yeckley, adult leader of inactive Ship 909, Solomons Island, and a 20-year veteran of Sea Explorer leadership says that from the start his groups have always been 60 percent female. Chip, Owen, Shannon, Austin, Cahrlie, John , Damen and Joseph would like to see some of those girls in Ship 741. They’re currently 100 percent male.
Skipper Watts says that he had to insist that some of his newest members join, but “now that the other kids see us boating and working on the equipment together they’re all coming around. “One of the first things we had to do when I became skipper was to rescue our two daysailers, an Annapolis 25-foot and a Rainbow 24-foot, which are moored by the Methodist Church Camp in the West River. In this winter’s bad weather both boats broke loose. They had to be towed and reanchored properly. Later we took down the mast of the Rainbow and secured it to the deck. The boys thought this was a fun adventure and so did I.

“I learn a lot about younger people in this spot,” reflects 21-year-old Watts. “It makes me feel good to be involved—like I’m taking a part. I hope to be involved for a long time.” Skipper and his crew are enrolled in the Coast Guard’s 12-week Safe Boating course.

Joanna Mauck, a former skipper of Ship 741, echoes Watts’ enthusiasm: “So many sailing organizations charge a lot of money for skills that the Sea Explorers learn free. [Almost free--there are dues of $25 per year.] In this water-oriented community that means an opportunity for lifetime skills.”

Doug Yeckley even organizes an annual reunion for 85 former members of the two ships he’s been involved with. He’s found no “distinctive trait left by Sea Explorers. They’ve gone on to become accountants, pizza place employees and lawyers. They’ve gone to the Naval Academy, the Air Force Academy and West Point. They’re all still friends because they had fun together in Sea Explorers and they liked it.”
Sea Explorers goes far beyond the Chesapeake. After three years of planning, Ed Wright of Curtis Bay Ship 600, went to Kawasaki, Japan, with four Sea Explorers: Michael Holmes, Sarah Johnson, Erin Scott, Tim Wright and adult leader Samsy Gray. They were met and feted for two weeks by members of Junior Seafriends of Kawasaki. “They were splendid,” said Wright. “I chose Japan because the culture is so different and it worked out just perfectly.”

A group of three adults and four junior scouts will be coming from Japan to Baltimore this July for two weeks of sightseeing and sailing. They’ll tour the Bay from Rock Creek to Annapolis to St. Michael’s and back, and then attend the National Boy Scout Jamboree as special guests. “While here they’ll stay with Sea Explorer families, eat and do things the American way. We hope they like it as much as we liked our experience.”

John Watts and Ship 741 may someday set their sights on Japan but just now they’re thinking about this month’s Regatta—daylong sails on the Bay, a week long sail to Norfolk. For next year they’re talking about the Bahamas. And why not?

Baltimore Area Council, 410/338-1700
John Watts, Ship 741, Deale, 301/855-5363

Doug Yeckley, Ship 909, Solomons Island, 410/326-4291. Ship 909 has a sponsor and 4-5 boats. It needs enthusiastic young people and adults.

Vernon Laurie, Prospective Annapolis Ship, 410/266-5690

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The spectacle of Olympian Eric Jackson panhandling on the streets of Washington last week didn’t set well with at least one teammate, kayaking star Dana Chladek.

“That is not representative of the whole team, and I’m quite embarrassed by it all,” said Chladek, the bronze medalist at the 1992 Olympic Games in women’s whitewater kayaking.

During an interview with New Bay Times, Chladek had no sympathy for Jackson’s alleged plight or his attention-seeking methods. She said that Jackson told friends that one of his goals in life is not to work. Yet he lives comfortably in Bethesda.

Jackson, 29, came in 13th last summer in Barcelona—the top finisher among U.S. men in whitewater kayaking. Last week, with his red kayak as a prop and a placard proclaiming his financial woes, Jackson managed to rake in $500 in one day. He told people that he needed the money to get to Colorado to work for a spot on the team that will compete in the world championships in Italy in July.

Chladek observed that she, too, will be competing in Mezzanna, Italy this summer, but that she continues to work hard to build her business amid a three-hour training regimen each day.

“I’m working my butt off; this maddens me,” she said of Jackson’s ways.

Rapidstyle, Chladek’s infant business in Kensington, MD., produces fine jackets and outerwear for paddlers. Her business is partly why she is unsure whether she’ll continue beyond the world championship and aim toward the 1996 Olympics. Kayaking competition will be held then on the Ocoee River in Tennessee.

She knows, too, that she’ll be 32 by then—as will Jackson—which some believe is nearing the outer limit for competitive kayaking. And she might want to start a family in the not-too-distant future.

Money problems aren’t all that nag at world-class athletes—whether they hit the streets, like Jackson, or labor quietly like Chladek.

“I hate not knowing what I’ll do. I think about it all the time, she said.”

Pleasure League Kayaking
Speaking of kayaking, abour 400 people drawn to the sea-going variety showed up at Elk Neck State Park on the upper reaches of the Chesapeake May 14 to16 for a symposium on the Bay’s newest sport.

Dealers and outfitters from up and down the East Coast trotted out their best technology. Stretched along the brilliant beach were sleek, shimmery wood kayaks; two-person kayaks as stable as Cadillacs; canvas and frame kayaks that fold into backpacks; fast-as-lightning kayaks; light-weight Kevlar kayaks; popular plastic kayaks; jaunty toboggan-like kayaks; Aleutian and Greenland kayaks; and kayaks springing sails and braced with floats like trimarans. There were even handmade kayaks tailored like suits to the bodies of their “wearers.”

Novices learned the highs of paddling from heros like Olympian Chladek and adventurer Eric Stiller, newly returned for kaying 4,000 miles around half of Australia. Experts in every aspect of paddling taught personal skills and safety.

Competitive kayakers tested their skills in the first of the Chesapeake Bay Challenge series of races. About 30 paddlers took on a two-mile course.

Some of the more experienced paddlers seemed content to lounge in the sun on this gorgeous weekend. But promoters believe racing will popularize sea kayaking.

“We want to create a more competitive sport. Very few kids may be interested in just paddling and watching a bird,” said Ron Casterline, the former surfer who runs Annapolis Coastal Kayaking.

Chesapeake Challenge promoters plan a major race in October and a full schedule in 1994.

Here are Elk Neck’s winners:
Men’s Division: Josef Sedivec, 14.00 min.; Pete Jett, 15.34; John and Don Enders (doubles), 16.24; Alan Yound, 16.39.
Women’s Division: Terry Hale, 15:51; Valerie Wimpelberg, 19:48.

Whaddya Mean, Don’t Flush?
Rosehaven looks the suburban typical community of a few years back. Nearly all of its 189 ramblers and split levels sit on a neat, green square. It’s so suburban that it’s almost startling among the rolling farms, wetlands and marinas of deep southern Anne Arundel County.

Rosehaven is typical in another way, too.

“It’s typical of communities across the state where wastewater systems are failing,” says Angelo Bianca, Maryland Department of the Environment’s water manager. “We’ve fixed the easy problems over the last 20 years and now we’re left with hard ones—and not a lot of money to fix them.”

The wastewater from Rosehaven’s kitchens, baths, and laundry rooms drains into a private sewage and treatment system shared with Herrington Harbor Marina and run by Chaney Enterprises for the marina’s owners. Keeping the system up to Bay-healthy standards is expensive for both owner and users. Annual costs per household have risen from about $160 to $760 in the past eight years.

But the traditional solution—trading in Rosehaven’s system for a new county-run system—is costlier still: estimates reach a whopping $11 million. Since the federal well’s dried up, nobody knows where that money would come from. The costs of sewage disposal have prompted some to consider being annexed by Calvert County.

Just east of Rosehaven, Holland Point, a strip of Bayfront homes in a park-like setting along Herring Bay, has its own problems. At just a few feet above Bay level, Holland Point is saturated with the wastewater from 260 taxpayers.

“Septic fields are overflowing. You have to have tanks dug, and they don’t do the job. People are always pumping, and some can’t get property loans,” complains part-time resident Nina Teti.

Some people post signs on their toilets begging guests not to flush. “We’re past the point of no return,” says weekend homeowner Wesley Copeland.

But frustrated citizens of the two communities may be headed together toward a new solution.

People from Rosehaven and Holland Point came together on May 13 to hear community organizer Jane Schautz tell how her Rensselaeville Institute’s Small Towns Environmental Program has helped over 100 other towns solve their problems. Schautz already has projects underway in western Maryland the Eastern shore; she was invited here by U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-MD.

Self-help combined with first class technology is the goal. Getting over the hump of the David vs. Goliath feelings of frustrated citizens toward government is a first step. “People who know a problem first hand have every right in the world to ask questions and get sensible answers in plain English,” Schautz said. The audience buzzed with agreement.

Within a week, the cooperation was formalized, as were plans to sit down at the planning table with officials.

“I’m very pleased that things are moving again. The problem’s complicated and touchy, but at least we’re moving,” said Tom Gill, of Rosehaven.

The Body Shop, an international corporation with a store in Annapolis, is one of the new heavy-hitter companies to sign on to the CERES Principles—agreeing to be a corporate good citizen for the environment.

These principles bind companies, albeit voluntarily, to a set of 10 seemingly enlightened ideas. Most are commonsense goals about preserving air, land and water. But they also get to some roots, promising safe products with wise use of energy and committing to self-audits released to the public.

"You don't have to be an environmental activist to recognize that something is going terribly wrong with the way we treat this world," said Anita Roddick, founder of the 900-store, skin-and-hair care chain.

CERES stands for Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economics. They scored their biggest coup when Sun Oil Co. signed on earlier this year. The only other outfits bigger than the Body Shop to belly up to the green bar so far are Domino’s Pizza, Timberland and the Aveda Corp. (personal care products.)

Maryland companies so far are: Eco-Print of Bethesda, and Atlantic Recycled Paper Co. and George W. King Co., both of Baltimore. But last week Georgia Pacific Corp.’s board of directors refused to join the club. saying the principles are too vague.

Maybe we along the Chesapeake could take a lesson from California, where they’re deploying giant, underwater stereo speakers to direct fish. In the Sacramento River, a wall of sound submerged from red buoys blares messages to passing salmon.

The $500,000 experiment, making use of gear developed for Navy submarines, is aimed at keeping juvenile salmon on course as they migrate toward the Pacific. They’ll be back one day—if they live that long.

But researchers find that many fish were entering sloughs and unfriendly places where they ended up hopelessly lost, eaten by predators or sucked into huge pumps.

What do you say to a fish, anyway? Biologists settled on a sound that reminds humans of a distant siren. It repels the salmon, discouraging them from taking a wrong turn.

If this works, maybe we could sink some speakers at the mouth of the Chesapeake every spring, telling those bluefish to turn left...

...Ever wonder what becomes of the 10 million old computers tossed out every year? A study at Carnegie Mellon University predicted that by 2,005, 150 million used computers will have piled up in American landfills.

Unless, of course, we come up with a solution—which the American Plastics Council says they’ll help coordinate. A goal: forging cooperation among manufacturers to build machines with recyclable cases and parts...

...If you think polluters around here are hostile to environmentalists, consider Brazil. In the last few weeks, two more activists working to preserve remaining stands of mahogany trees were murdered.

Arnaldo Ferreira, 47, head of the Rural Workers Union of Eldorado and the father of nine, was killed in his sleep. Paulo Vinha, 37, a leading biologist, was found dead alongside his camera in one of the forests he was trying to protect.

Allies suspect that their killers are involved in illegal logging on Indian lands. The biggest buyers of Brazilian mahogany are Britain and the U.S. “It is ironic that the deep red color of mahogany, which people tend to like and associate with prestige, is also symbolic of the blood that has been shed to protect the tropical forests,” said Pamela Wellner, of the Rainforest Action Network.

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Plugging the Nutrient Nozzle
Curtain’s up on a new act in the long-running production to restore the Bay. Bureaucrats are rehearsing and primping for what could be one of the most action-packed episodes yet.

In this program, the spotlight turns from the main Bay to its rivers and the nutrients they carry. In case you missed it, researchers have declared nutrients—nitrogen and phosphorous from farms and wastewater plants—as Bay Enemy No. 1.Why are nutrients bad? They produce too much algae, which sucks up the oxygen needed by every living thing in the Bay.

What’s about to happen is a so-called tributary strategy waged by the 10 year-old alliance of Maryland and states around the Bay The goal: slicing the 200 million—pound annual nutrient flow by 40 percent by the end of the decade.

On a muggy May evening, an overflowing crowd gathered in a modern longhouse at the Smithsonian outpost at Edgewater to hear a crew of Maryland officials prepare them for what may lie ahead on the Lower Western Shore.

Of the five nearby rivers, the Magothy, Severn and South have the worst records on oxygen and Bay grasses, people learned. The Magothy is the worst of the five in nitrogen, while the South has the worst algae conditions. (The Rhode River, by no means healthy, escaped unfavorable distinction.)

Pointing to projected growth in Anne Arundel and Calvert Counties—about 320,000 more people in 30 years —the Environment Department’s Rich Eskin warned that people will need to work awfully hard to protect their rivers even after the 40 percent cut.

But how do we get to that 40 percent reduction in the first place? Stay tuned, the planners say. They’ll tell us their options next month and the solution in the fall.

While the meat’s a cookin’, the bureaucrats ought to keep a few things in mind. First of all, they ought not be lulled by the Pennsylvania Legislature’s welcome decision to slap controls on farm pollution there.

It might be convenient to think that with fewer nutrients pouring out of the Susquehanna, our job in Maryland will be easier.


If anything, Maryland ought to take a lesson about the need for enforceable controls on farm runoff and direct some serious energy toward massive problems from the poultry industry on the Eastern Shore.

By the same token, environmentalists and farmers need to stop circling one another like fighting cocks. Each will be better off when they stand together to stem the sorts of sloppy development that undermine both.

From South Baltimore to South Africa, labor union members and environmental advocates spent 20 years battling. Only in the past few years have they they realized what they can do for one another by hopping in the same boat.

Maryland officials say the solution to the pollution must be fair, effective and none too costly. Why not add smart to the mix, and be that way today instead of waiting until the fall?

Why not begin by putting the arm on counties to speed up those master plans for growth? Remember them?

Which gets us back to a light bulb that won’t take 50 bureaucrats to change.

Among the most effective cures for nutrients are wetlands, forests and the natural buffers that filter pollution before it reaches the Bay.

“We’ve cleared a lot of ground, a lot of our forests,” Nick Carter, from Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources, observed at that recent meeting.

As Maryland plods ahead with its neighbors toward a grandiose tributary strategy that may or may not work, let’s stop along the way to correct some of the blundering that brought us to this point.

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Dear New Bay Times;
I decided to put a classified in your newspaper to find someone to repair my bicycle. What's the use of having a fine, broken bike in this great spring weather?

Guess what? Three people called right away, and now I'm riding again. My kind of people must read your new newspaper, so here's a check for my subscription.

How about printing some cycling stories, now?

Farley M. Peters, Fairhaven

Dear Reader;
Look at commentary this week, and stay tuned for more biking pieces. How about buying another ad?
Editor, New Bay Times

Dear New Bay Times;
I was going along great and enjoying the issue of New Bay Times that I saw and then I ran across your story called “A Plug for the Sun”(May 6). How can a newspaper that talks about “quality living” encourage people to spend time in the sun?

The danger of ultraviolet rays and increasing skin cancers are testament to the problems from the ozone hole. People have to be told about this, again and again, if they’re going to start taking precautions.

It’s not going to be like the good old days anymore with people working all summer on a tan. So I’m hoping that “A Plug for the Sun” was tongue-in-cheek, or that you devote as much space to a warning about what can happen to sun-lovers.

Teri Carver, Annapolis

Dear Reader;
You're right, and we don't joke about serious stuff. On the other hand, New Bay Times encourages competing views on matters that people may see differently—especially through their sunglasses.
Editor, New Bay Times

Dear New Bay Times;
Our car club wants you to know how much we appreciate your supporting our involvement in the St. Mary’s Crab Festival Car Show on June 13. Your support will help the show reach a success level that will enable us to help our Lions Club carry on their charitable activities. Perhaps more people will end up with eyeglasses to read New Bay Times.

We wish your endeavor all the good fortune possible. You certainly have homed in on a core of material that the citizenry of the Bay and its tributaries need and is not concentrated on by other publications.

J.B. Collier Sr., President St. Mary’s Rod & Classic Car Club, Lusby, MD.

Discover the Fun of Small Town Living
Dear New Bay Times,
What a wonderful surprise to discover a newspaper of and about the Bay.

How about taking us on a trip around the Bay—town by town, place by place—in some logical sequence that will allow your readers to reap the benefits of small town living?

I'm sure you'll spend a couple of days here in “New North Beach.” we've got quite a bit to boast about.

Continued good luck with your fine publication.

Ron Russo, North Beach

Good Wishes
Dear New Bay Times;
I wanted to second those letter-writers last week who called New Bay Times “refreshing.” Nowadays, it seems like the only news we get has to do with somebody getting killed or shot or just arrested. It will depress you if you aren’t careful.

To tell the truth, I don’t hardly look at papers(s) anymore, with all the news I get on cable. But I’ve been liking sitting down and reading your paper, especially the recipes and gardening stories.

I also like seeing my horoscope, which is much different in New Bay Times than any place I’ve seen in my life.

Teresa Lane, Prince Frederick

DearNew Bay Times,
Great Newspaper!!! Good Luck!

Greenpeace, Annie Leonard, Connie Heather Spaulding, Jim Vallette, Washington, DC

DearNew Bay Times,
I picked up my first copy of New Bay Times last week at Boat World in Annapolis. It's great-and I wish you much success with your venture.

Audrey Y. Scharmen, Lusby

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by Steve Latham

Can you remember the last time you rode a bicycle? I had to think back to my early childhood to come up with my answer. But not too long ago I found myself forced into accepting the alternative used by less than six percent of the population—the six percent who employ “walking or bicycling” as a means of transportation.

I lost my job. My unemployment benefits won’t let me afford even a used car, much less car insurance. But for me, getting laid off has shed some light on one new issue—transportation.

The two-wheeled, muscle-powered alternative, it turns out, is proving to be an affordable, viable means of getting around.

It also has ended up being a great fitness program, at no additional cost. For the first time in my life, I actually have found a fitness program that I can stick to—out of sheer necessity.

I get my basic needs by bicycle. Without my bike, there’s nothing to eat, no aspirin for a headache and no hook to hang that plant from the ceiling.

Bicycling has helped me get better acquainted with my neighborhood. There are many nooks and crannies not reachable by car or public transportation, yet too far to get to on foot. My bike takes me to those hidden paths.
Biking becomes a real pleasure when head into the country to breathe some clean, fresh air and feel the openness. While I’m out, I’ll pick up fresh vegetables from a roadside farmer’s market.
In the process, I am growing to appreciate my surroundings—the trees and plantlife, the parks filled with playing children, the Bay and its creatures.
Yes, biking is environmental. I like knowing I’m helping the Bay and the world, even if that wasn't my original intent. No noxious carbon monoxide spews from my exhaust. And no guilt about contributing to the greenhouse effect and global warming—caused by dependence on harmful fossil fuels.
For the world and for me, cycling’s become good therapy. Now, when I get mad or frustrated with life, I don’t yell at my roommates. I hop on my bike. What started out of a plain necessity is becoming a new way of life for me, with simplicity and self-sufficiency. That, I’d say, is refreshing.

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by Joe Browder

Walk through most wild woodlands in the Bay country this time of year and the azaleas are blooming. From the time the flower buds of their relatives, the mountain laurels, are first noticeable, well into the warmth of late spring, the azaleas are there, but almost always overlooked.

How could blossoming azaleas go unnoticed? Because in the woods native American azaleas, unlike their Asian cousins that color our gardens, do not cover themselves in flowers. The first to bloom are low gangly shrubs that brush the forest floor with a few scattered white flowers. Other kinds are taller, with flowers that are pinker, and some that grow in the southern mountains or the woods of the deep south run the spectrum from pale yellow through a rich plum red. Although individual blossoms can be large and intricate, and older plants the size of small trees, growing in the filtered light of the forest, the wild azalea’s flowers can easily be missed.

Given sun and a gardeners care, all the many species of native azaleas will produce more blooms, and some plants can be spectacular. But even a shady garden will be made better with a few native azaleas, because the native species, most of them, are intensely fragrant.

Some birds, like the thrushes and chats that sing in Chesapeake woods or the bellbirds of Trinidadian jungles, seem to be able to throw their voices. Wild azaleas are floral ventriloquists, quite capable of seeming to have only a whisper of fragrance up close, then overwhelming us with scent after we walk away. A breeze will fill the air with perfume that slowly fades, then returns when the air stirs again. In the damp early mornings of spring, through hot summer evenings, into the fall, wild azaleas in our woods send out sweet honeysuckle smells.

Azaleas were called honeysuckles by the first English-speaking farmers and miners to clear away the Appalachian forests, and that’s the name still used by mountain families in the Shenandoah country to our west. More specific names, like Hammocksweet and Pinkster, were applied to individual species. That Hammocksweets grace our woods in Fairhaven reveals a gardener at work. Hammock, in this case, does not mean a suspended rope bed, but comes from the word once used in the deepest South to describe a patch of woods in otherwise grassy, marshy low country. All of the Hammocksweets in our woods, like the other 14 native American azalea species and hybrids we’ve planted, have come to us from nurseries.

A canoe ride across the pond and southwest to the bluffs of the opposite, older woods, not cut and regrown so recently as ours, will find azaleas growing where they should. So will a visit to Calvert Cliffs State Park. But most of what became our woods in 1981 were a farm family’s pasture 40 years ago. We didn’t have the decades to wait for honey-scented flowers to appear again on their own timetable. We also wanted to be able to smell the wild azaleas of the Smokies and Blue Ridge, of the north Florida river forests and the Carolinas.

Some serious gardeners would frown at putting an azalea from the beech and magnolia forests of east Texas into a recovering woodland on the edge of the Chesapeake. Not because azaleas are like kudzu, capable of shrouding every other plant from horizon to horizon. But because, some disciplined gardeners believe, once we’ve decided to grow natives, the definition of native should correspond at least roughly to what would occur naturally. Is a plant found in nature only in Florida or Texas any more a native, introduced to Maryland, than a plant from Oregon? From China?

Probably not. We would not plant a species unique to the Maryland mountains in a state park on the Bay. We wouldn’t turn something loose in our woods that would spread to contaminate a nature preserve. Many plant generations from now, could there be changes in native Chesapeake azaleas because of the millions of non-native, nursery-bred azaleas planted in the Bay country?

Maybe, but those genetic genies are out of the bottle. Our Hammocksweets will just make the air more fragrant, the woods
brighter, the hummingbirds’ and butterflies’ menus more diverse, our lives on the Bay richer.

Twenty years ago, on the way to Shenandoah forests where we happily struggled through mountain tangles of Pinksters, we could find wild azaleas and many other flowers in the countryside just west of Washington. Once, driving with a friend, we pointed to the beauty of mimosa trees flowering on the edge of woodlands that were reclaiming abandoned pastures near Tysons Corner. We all laughed when our surprised friend admitted to having always thought that mimosas were something to drink on the weekends. Now, orange-flavored liquids are the only mimosas at Tysons Corner.

We really do need to be careful. Twenty years from now, Hammocksweets might make a great name for a mimosa-serving bar in one of hundreds of office parks or condominiums filling up the landscape between the Patuxent and the Chesapeake. The air in these Fairhaven woods will be as sweet for the people who live here 40 years from now, if the families and communities of the Chesapeake are lucky, and vigilant.

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Remembrance—Fred Loose. 1922-1993.
Show me the way to go home, I’m tired and I want to go to bed.

The song echoes in my mind as I recall a man who touched my life and the lives of others so deeply.

Fred Loose—pianist, comedian, singer, songwriter and friend—passed from this world on May16, 1993, in the midst of one of his favorite activities—playing the piano at Topside, as he did almost any weekend.

He’d been a pianist since childhood and had played with Sonny Siexas and his Latin Orchestra in Washington, DC. But Fred Loose came into his glory at Topside, where he entertained with singing as well as with playing.

People came from all over to be with Fred in his19 years at Topside. He didn’t warm my heart only; he touched everyone who came near him. Always, he had a smile, a hug, a shoulder—and sometimes a dollar to lend.

Fred Loose, our entertainer and friend, you will be missed.

...Oh Wherever I may roam, by land or sea or sky,
You can always here me singing this song
Show me the way to go home...

S. Darline Heath

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Mrs. Mattie Johnson Changes Nests
Mattie Johnson never imagined, when she was a girl going to a one-room school, that one day just such a school house would be her home. Nor that she’d be 67 going on 68 before she had her own running water, plumbing, bathtub, or washing machine.

“This is a miracle to me,” says she, of her translation from a ramshackle school that must “surely be filled with honey” to a mobile home full of modern conveniences instead of bees.

Not that Mattie minded the old school house, her home since 1979, that now stands on the lawn of Herrington Harbor North Marina as one third of Steuart Chaney’s emerging Southern Maryland village.
“This little schoolhouse will be ideal for me,” she mused when its previous tenant died in January of 1979.

She didn’t share her children’s taste in loud music. She was ready for peace and quiet; one of 16 children, she is mother of 9. The schoolhouse’s owner, Edna Nutwell, wasn’t willing to sell, but she said, Mattie reports, “I could move in and stay as long as I liked.” Mattie painted and paneled and, at night, she recalls, “I used to lie in bed and imagine what I’d do if the house were mine.”

She dreamed of plumbing and gardens and, most of all, a porch. “I love a porch,” says Mattie.

But owning her own home to arrange to her dreams was not likely to happen. Mattie’s mother died when she was so young—about four—that, she says, “I can’t ever remember her face.” Her fingers burned with cold from the walk to that one-room school, before her father took her out after fourth grade to work. Proud of her literacy, she’s worked all her life cleaning, washing, and ironing for other people, which, she says, “is all I know how to do.”

Mattie Johnson has rented all her life, as had her parents before her, living in Friendship, on Jewell Road, on McKendree Road, on Franklin Gibson Road. Living in homes built for sharecroppers.

Sharecropping in the South peaked in the 1930s, when over 90 percent of the South’s blacks and 35 percent of its whites were tenant farmers, living on and working a back piece of an owner’s land in exchange for a third to a half of their crop, according to University of Maryland historian of the South, George Callcott.

Even in modern Maryland, the tradition born of the Civil War is not extinct. About1,700 tenant farmers worked land for shares of their crops as recently as1987, and rudimentary tenant homes dot the back roads of Southern Maryland and Eastern shore counties. They’re quaint and worth preserving, as long as you don’t live in one.

Lately leaks had looked threatening enough to make Mattie wonder about whether she’d have to move to Annapolis, but she loved her home and the quiet of the country. “I’d rather be out here than shut up in the city,” she said.

So she waited and wondered until one day Edna Netwell’s niece’s husband, William Hardesty, asked “How would you like to live in a trailer, Mattie?” By variance, Anne Arundel County allowed a trailer to be installed for use during Mattie’s tenancy.

Soon the trailer pulled in and, walking from schoolhouse to trailer, Mattie moved in her possessions that fit. Her daughter got a big buffet, but friends pitched in enough of their furniture to fill Mattie’s spotless grey-siding trailer to overflowing. She’s got two bedrooms now, one at either end of the kitchen-living room, plus a bath and room for her second-hand apartment-size washer and dryer.

“They have bettered my condition,” Mattie says, earnestly.

But she didn’t stay home the day her old drafty, beloved schoolhouse was hauled away.

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Creature Feature

The Turtle Who Stopped Traffic
by Sandra Martin

Two turtles crossed my path yesterday. Not expecting to ride turtle patrol so early in the year, I had to turn back to make the first rescue.

Why did the turtle cross the road?

Because the road was in its way, explains reptile biologist Suzanne Demas, of Fairhaven. Waking this time of year, they’re looking for a “nice damp, leafy, woodsy spot—and for females.” With male turtle determination as high as road caution is low, the highways of late spring tell a sad tale.

So begins for two species another seasonal ritual.

No matter how pressing the deadline or how many miles separate us from our desk, we stop for every intact turtle. Reptilian head cranes and red eyes gleam in slow curiosity; then in pop tail, legs, and head as its rescuer’s fingers spread round the high dome of its painted shell.

Usually we take them across the road in the direction they were going (and will return to after you leave them alone, Demas advises) and deposit them well into the safety of the underbrush. So I sent these two perfect yellow and olive specimens of box turtlehood on their pigeon-toed way toward their woodsy retreat

But one year, when one of us couldn't resist taking them home, turtles regularly summered on my sunken patio.

A middle-sized turtle gaily painted in summac red stayed all season. Others quickly escaped on their turtle way, and I was glad, for several were intended as gifts for the children of city folk who have no turtles of their own.

Over the years, I’ve come to agree that turtles make poor pets. They’re smart enough, and they can unpuzzle mazes even more quickly than rats. But to thrive, a turtle needs careful attention. All my mother’s attempts to make useful pets of turtles failed; once put in the basement to eat bugs, they were never seen again. No wonder: box turtles are vegetarian—indeed, vegetarian gourmets. The turtles Demas studied preferred raspberries; mine scorned bananas.

I’ll gladly rescue turtles, but I’ve no desire to run a turtle shelter.

The morning after a great rain last summer, the dog’s barking alerted me to a stranger. His hackles had risen. At the door, I saw why: two feet of prehistoric menace occupied the front stoop.

I stared. The turtle lurked. His head (anything so ferocious was bound to be male, I figured), beaked and large as a tomcat’s peered beadily out of the folds of turtleneck. Sturdy, armadillo-like legs tapered into ominous hooked claws. His Baywater-brown shell was surprisingly flat to contain such a monster—about the size and shape of an English riding saddle. From the back of that shell protruded about a foot of spiky, rhinocerous-hided tail.

What was this beast doing on my stoop, a good quarter of a mile uphill from the nearest swamp?

Nothing but looking at me. I retreated.

When I checked back moments later, he was gone. So much for one truism. There was nothing slow about this turtle.

The dog and I went seeking together. He found the turtle first, twenty feet away and about to cross the road.

A turtle of this size, squashed, was a spectacle I didn’t want to see. The dog charged.

That’s when I concluded this turtle was a snapper. It dug in its billhook claws, opened its beak on a rosy mouth, and hissed. The 100-pound dog retreated behind my skirts.

I imagined myself setting up a chair in the road, diverting traffic until the turtle crossed in his own good time.

I might have done just that had not neighbor Billy congratulated me on my turtle. “Nice alligator turtle you’ve got there,” said Billy. “Going to eat it?”

Billy earns his living as a crabber. He is younger than some of the other crabbers in the neighborhood, who admire his strength and endurance.

I admire turtle soup—as long as someone else does the dressing. “You cut off the head first, so it doesn’t bite,” my resourceful mother had told me. “But getting it out of the shell is the tough part.”

Tough indeed, I imagined, sizing up this turtle.

I didn’t want to eat him, I admitted. “Do you?” I asked.

“Too much trouble for me,” Billy said. “But I’ll take it down to the marsh for you.”

And fearless Billy hauled up the turtle by its stegosaurian tail.

“He’s probably a she,” corrected Billy. “They live down there. Swim up under baby ducks and snap ‘em under. But they come up here to lay eggs.”

Suspended upside down, the snarling she-turtle arched and twisted to reach the crabber’s hands. “Hey, she’s heavy,” said Billy, and dumped the turtle in the bed of his pick-up.

But before he drove the turtle home, Billy had errands in town. His errands stretched out, and Billy had forgotten the turtle behind him, until he glanced in his rearview mirror and saw its malignant face leering at him through the back window of the cab. He hit the brakes, and the turtle went flying.

There’s only one stoplight in town, but four or five officers enforce the 25 mph speed limit and keep the citizens under control. Knowing this, Billy watches his step and his speedometer when he’s in town. So he was surprised when the blue light bore down on him.

“What’d I do?” Billy complained when the cop swaggered up.

Billy’s blue-eyed gaze, following the officer’s finger, found the alligator turtle clinging to his tailgate, hissing balefully.

“Mister, that turtle’s so ugly it’s stopping traffic,” the officer said.

Late summer, I found a second turtle on our patio. It had the color, disposition, and about twice the size of a ripe, unhulled black walnut. The only time I tried to pick it up, it hissed, showing a rosy mouth.

I guess Billy was right about the sex of Ms. Chelydra serpentina, my previous visitor.

Find a box turtle? Bring it to the Turtle Races at South County Festival, Saturday, May 22. The races will be supervised by a vet, after the races, everbody will return their turtles to a “nice damp, leafy, woodsy spot.”

The First Annual South County Festival
Dive into South County Culture, History, and Taste

The thing people like about South Anne Arundel County’s culture is that it’s so easy going.

Sure, you can find Art with a Capital A. In fact Fairhaven and Shady Side are overrun with artists, and they’re likely not alone. But they keep it quiet. Shady Side’s Patricia Inglis—designer of the festival logo combining the Bay, corn, tobacco, waterfowl, and us people—doesn’t jump over the back fence to talk about Art.

You can bet Fairhaven Cliffs’ pretty-famous Frank Wright doesn’t talk about Art when’s he’s out for a walk.

And everybody knows you have to pay South County writers by the word to get them to talk about Literature.

South County’s culture is more like sitting on the dock of the Bay with your beer or glass of tea watching the tide … or in the afternoon shade listening to corn, beans, tobacco, and mums grow … or dangling a line for a crab … or listening to the waterbirds tell the passing seasons. And if any of that inspires you to paint or sing or dance or write, well that’s all right too.

People like that laid-back South County culture so much that they come down from the Big Cities on weekends, hoping a little of it will rub off on them. The people who live it every day like it just fine, too.

That’s the kind of South County culture you’re invited to share on Saturday, May 22 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. So stop on by Herrington Harbor North Marina’s yard in Tracys Landing and drop into the South County spirit.

There’ll be travels back in time. An old one-room school house now sits with the one-room home of the United Sons and Daughters of Holland Beneficial Society near the quaint and still-serviceable St. Mark’s Chapel of the St. James Episcopal Church on the marina yard, in the crook of one of Rt. 265’s arms. (Meet Mrs. Mattie Johnson, most recent resident of the old schoolhouse, in NBT’s pages this week.)

On some of those time travels, you’ll have guides. Native American Piscataway-Conoys will be spanning the longest time, introducing native music, dance, and storytelling, plus crafts and food.

From our more recent heritage, Company C, 2nd Maryland Infantry of the Confederate States of American will engage Company D of the Virginia Cavalry, who’ll arrive on horseback. There’ll be assorted glimpses of quieter 18th century life arranged by the London Town Public House, the Celtic Society of Southern Maryland, and the West River Foundation. For water life, climb aboard The John Gregory for a ride on one of the few Hooper Island draketails still on the Bay.

South County’s a new story as well as an old one, and one whose telling you can be in on. Thirty-one businesses will be on hand to show you what you can get in South County. Plenty of those easy-going South County artists will be about, too, demonstrating and displaying their wares. Naturally you’ll find nautical and country crafts, and T-shirts with Patricia Inglis’ festival logo but there’ll be surprises, as well. You might even get an artist to chat with you about Art.

Don’t plan on going away hungry. You’ll be able to sample the cookery of nine South County restaurants in the Taste of South County, open from noon till 2 p.m. Your $6 ticket booklet includes $80 worth of coupons to spend in later days on participants’ premises. If your crab appetite’s risen, you can work your way through some of the season’s earliest steamed crabs. Or you can nibble and sip as you stroll.

Or as you sit a spell, enjoying South County non-stop entertainment. (See schedule below.) You can watch or enter the Turtle Stakes at 2 p.m.—but you’ll have to bring your own box turtle. (See “The Turtle That Stopped Traffic” in this issue.) Turtles will be returned to the woods after the races.

Or you can do it all—so long as you take it easy, South County style.

Children and Adults: Free. Cars: $2.

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In the Water:
Charles Hurrey, fisherman, of RJ’s Bait and Tackle on Hallowing Point Road, Benedict, send this report on Patuxent River fishing: Lately, sunshine and warm temperatures have brought good fishing. White perch are biting on bloodworms and fresh grass shrimp, with best success coming to boats using depth finders to hold to the drop off.

Perch were biting from Chalk Point to Sheridan Point. Shad darts tipped with grass on an ultralight rod and 6-pound line elevate the white perch from superb table fare to sporty game fish.

Cat fish are responding to bank fishermen, with large channel cats most abundant. Cut herring, night crawlers and some of the prepared baits like strike king links work well. Boat fishermen shouldn’t overlook a large live minnow. Jig near old pilings upriver from the power plant. You’ll have to skip around till you find the fish but it’s worthwhile.

Spot. Only unconfirmed rumors. Seeing is believing.

In the Air:
Perching birds are a sure sign of spring. Kathryn Reshetiloff, US Fish and Wildlife Services naturalist, says these migrants have wintered in Mexico, the Caribbean, and South America. Here they’ll breed while adding the grace notes to our warm season. Warblers, vireos, thrushes, orioles, swallows, flycatchers, sparrows, and humming birds are familiar long-distance travelers.

But don’t take migrating birds for granted. The dangers of storm, heavy winds, rain, and natural predators are abetted by human hazards: buildings, windows, electric wires, plus declining tropical forests and northern woodlands.

On a smaller scale, one house wren’s rescue from human hazard makes a pretty story. The unexpected visitor was battering itself against the windows in the high tower of Solomon’s Visitors’ Center, until aptly named Shirley Dove enlisted aid from Calvert Marine Museum. Jimmy Langley and George Nichols brought a tall ladder to the rescue.

In the Kitchen Garden:
This week Deana Davis at Clagett Farms in Upper Marlboro is harvesting instant salads: small lettuces, arugula, beet greens from thinned crops, kale, chard and tatsoi—a slightly spicy member of the mustard family. Parsley, sorrel and cilantro will also jazz up a salad. In other gardens, chives, oregano, licorice-tasting tarragon, and lemon balm thrive. Chamomile is just uncurling for your bedtime tea.

Fresh asparagus tempts vegetable buyer all the way up the Bay.

In the Flower Garden:
Irises are in their glory in sunny yards. Peonies are puffing themselves out and will soon nod heavily in their brief spring glory. Locust trees send their flowers and fragrance flying. Lambs Ears are burgeoning though not yet flowering. The first roses have opened while azaleas are yielding to rhododendron.

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Deale’s Deals
For a fetching roadhouse, you’ll find Happy Harbor Inn at 533 Deale Rd. a hard act to follow anywhere you travel.

With a popular, teeming bar and a location at the bridge over Rockhold Creek, Happy Harbor pulls in plenty of Bay visitors, not to mention loyal locals.

A newly whitewashed dining room, adorned in antique paddles and fish nets, is ready for all comers. Or, you might choose to watch the fishing charter boats bring in their bounty from outside on the deck.

Ask owner Barbara Sturgell what’s the current speciality, and she’ll tell you what people are eating. And eating and eating.

“We’re going through 200 pounds of crab meat a week, and it’s not even summer,” she said. “People love the crabcakes.”

We keep Happy Harbor’s daily specials committed to memory. Start with the prime rib special on Monday ($11.98) and wind up on the weekend either with a breakfast buffet ($5.95) or the steamed shrimp ($10.98).

The prime rib gets a couple votes in our household and the seafood buffet (Tuesday, $9.98) has been known to draw us. I vote for the Friday night flounder ($11.98), fried or boiled and with or without crabmeat stuffing.

Walk into refurbished Fisher’s Wharf at 477 Deale Rd., and you’ll no longer hear the ivory-clack of pool balls. What you’ll hear are mallets cracking crab claws.

About a year ago, owner Robert Davis replaced the pool table with an attractive new bar situated in the center of his restaurant. He seems pleased with having replaced some of those who were hungry for billiards with a clientele that is just hungry.

Besides crabs, you’ll find a typical Bay sandwich menu with the fat crab cake sandwich a favorite ($5.95). There’s pizza, at the unheard of price of $4.50. On Monday and Thursday happy hour, beer is just 50 cents.

But crabs are king here (market price) and you eat them in a surroundings that is Bay all the way. Inside, the paneled walls and low ceilings make you feel like you’re aboard a classic Baybuilt.

On the ample deck outside, you’re as close to Rockhold Creek as you can get without jumping in.

At Fisher’s Wharf, you won’t be playing 8-ball or 9-ball anymore. But you can eat eight or nine crabs, or maybe an even dozen. And you won’t go home with telltale pool chalk on your fingers.

If you like to waggle your elbows when you eat, The Skipjack Restaurant and Lounge at 421 Deale Rd. offers loads of room in a dining room that just keeps going.

Situated alongside Herrington Harbour North, Skipjack has plenty of windows amid its handsome wood decor to gaze out at boats of all varieties. You can listen to piano at one bar or jump into a livlier scene at another.

Sooner or later, it’s time to eat, and manager Jenny Sue has been working up some specialties. Amid the fish dishes, she’s been known to sneak in fried won-tons and Oriental goodies on her healthy hors d’ ouvres menu. We especially liked the seafood salad on potato skins with bubbly cheddar cheese.

Jenny will tell you that her crab soup and crabcakes are the specialty. Proven winners by us include the Skipjack Papillote, ($15.95), a combination of flounder, shrimp, scallops and vegetables wrapped in parchment.

The Herrington Harbour North ($13.95)—seafood in marinara sauce over linguini—filled the bill, as did the pork chops stuffed with apples, sausage and sage ($13.95).

And luckily, you’ve got some space afterward to slide back from the table and open your belt a notch or two.

At Skipper’s Pier, 6158 Drum Point Road, it can be difficult to drag yourself into the restaurant from Captain John B.’s waterfront dock bar. The dock and its second-story deck provide a westward panorama of the widest spots along Rockhold Creek and a stunning view south to Herring Bay.

Out here, you can gas your boat, drink some beer or howl at the moon. Some have been known to do all three.

But everybody’s gotta eat, and you can do plenty of that at Skipper’s, inside or out.

Crabs (market price) are definitely the thing here, and there are plenty of picnic tables where you can go at it with a pile of the beautiful swimmers. They’ll also steam you up a bucket of manoes, if you so order.

The more sedentary among us who grab a table inside (perhaps near the aquarium) often choose from a starter menu topped by the hot & spicy chicken wings ($3.95). From Skipper’s sandwich board, the cajun chicken sandwich ($4.25) with cheddar and bacon is a winner.

Most people dining along the water probably stick with creatures from the sea. We’ve been surprised at some of the non-aquatic fare, particularly ribs when they’re offered ($9.95). Skipper’s gives you a broader slab than you could possibly eat, especially if you’re planning to head back out to the dock bar to look for that moon.

(EDITOR’S NOTE—In the coming weeks, Laughing Gourmet will be stopping in at many restaurants along the Chesapeake.)

Tastes of South County
South countian S. Lee Chronister comforts family and friends with these garden-grown teas:

Lemon Balm Tea: An excellent hot weather tonic. Pull up lemon balm in generous clumps. No need to fear. The spread of this persistent plant will not be slowed by frequent raids. Discard any roots. Wash stems and leaves and put them in a heat proof pitcher. Cover with boiling water. Steep 30 minutes. Cool. Add a sliced lemon if desired. Serve with or without ice. Refreshing.

Chamomile tea: A soothing bedtime drink. Pick chamomile blossoms before the noon sun saps their vigor. Wash. Fill up a tea pot and cover with boiling water. Steep 10-15 minutes. Drink warm with honey. Relax.

Sixty-two-year-old Nora Lincoln of Deale occupies herself re-forming the elements of everyday life into new beauty. Her inspiration here is the Maryland state flower.

Black-Eyed Susan Cake:
Sift together—
Beat to high heaven—
3 1/2 cups flower
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 t baking powder

1/2 cup sugar

3 T butter

Beat together 350 strokes by hand or 3 1/2 minutes by beater. Spoon the thick batter into a tube or Bundt pan sprayed with vegetable shortening. Bake at 350 one hour. Cool and remove from pan.

To make your Black-Eyed Susan, frost with chocolate instant pudding made to package directions. Make petals of sliced fresh or canned peaches.

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