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Starting Today and Coming To You EachWeek A New Bay Times Exclusive
Alex and the Eagle
A novel that captures the pain and passion of growing up in Southern Maryland
by Eli Flam
Illustrated by Kerry Culbertson
As the school bus squealed to a stop and the driver opened the door, Alex slumped off silently into the misty drizzle without a word or a call from another kid. Splashing deliberately through puddles it had been raining on and off for a couple of weeks he hunched across the road and headed for home up a long curve of hard-packed gravel driveway. Another miserable weekend, he groused to himself.
Sodden leaves were scattered and clumped on the steeply sloping hillsides; a few dry, curled-up ones still held on in oaks and sycamores. His own house remained out of sight, further up the driveway; through a thick net of bare branches in the gray afternoon, Alex could see only two other places, far off in opposite directions in the humpy, wooded area.
No kids there, either, he complained silently. Great for goats in Southern Maryland.
A thick branch had fallen to the side. Alex ran over and kicked hard to knock it off the driveway.
"Damn!" he cried at the pain. "Stupid!"
It felt like the time he whacked his foot with a sledgehammer, the year before in Florida, when his father was putting up the tent in the back yard.
Only this time, maybe I did break it. At least the big toe!
To be stuck in a cast in New Smyrna Beach would have been a disaster. No running to the beach for surfing on his mini-board, no biking with Larry Szabo and Jaime Herrera to Turtle Mound or the haunted house, no playing soccer at school ...
Hell, here they don't even have a team!
But now it'd be great to be laid up, and stay out of school.
Read like crazy, stuff himself on Mallowmars and nobody around to bug him most of the time; his mother had just started selling real estate and his father was never home.
He thought some more, and realized it wasn't so simple. They'd get him the homework anyway and Mom would stick around for "the invalid." After two days he'd have cabin fever.
Aw, what-the-hell, he decided, the toe wasn't that bad, after all. The real answer was to go back to Florida.
He picked up the branch, heaved it down the hillside and shouted as loud as he could: "I hate you! I hate you all!"
A dog started barking up the driveway.
“Jebbie! I didn't mean you!"
Now barely limping, Alex ran up the last stretch and into the cyclone-fenced kennel attached to the house.
“Jebbie, Jebbie, Jebbie," he murmured, crouching to hug and rub the prancing Irish setter, and held up his face for the slap of the wet tongue. When the dog shoved its front paws against Alex's chest, the boy lost his balance and fell backward, muddying clothes and bookbag.
“Now what?!" Alex mimed in falsetto. “Just look what you’ve done! Wait till your father comes home from work and I tell him!”
But when the father came home, his parents were liable to argue, and Alex would lie under the covers, trying not to hear the bickering downstairs and wondering why damn it! why they had to come up there in the first place. Just for his father's stupid job.
Now, laughing wildly, Alex thrashed in the muck and pawed back at Jebbie. The dog jumped, barking and playing more wildly until his master finally struggled to his feet, scooped off what mud he could and restored some calm.
“Okay, okay," he said. "Take it easy. I'll be right back out, and we'll take a big hike. Down toward the river, whaddya say?
“Hey, over by that Indian place." And maybe this time we'll go in...
Alex stripped to undershorts and shirt in the mud room. In the kitchen, he read the note on the counter:
“Dear Alexander (my full name again!), I baked you a carrot cake, your favorite! (That's what she thinks.) It's in the fridge, next to the milk. (Hint, hint.) Be back around six.
Love & kisses, Mom”
He made a face and took out the cake but left the milk. The weather made him feel shivery, but he hated coffee, and tea wasn't much better. Hot chocolate?
Naagh, that was for kids.
And forget about soda.
He stiffened. His neck tingled.
Whiskey. The whiskey.
Something stirred in his gut. He thought of the bourbon his father knocked down when he did come home these days, instead of the occasional drink he'd nursed in Florida, but tried to turn away from the notion. Ridiculous, that stuff was terrible. When the neighbors threw them a farewell party in New Smyrna, he'd sniffed the bourbon and found it awful. It smelled like some terrible cough medicine.
But there had to be something to it. He was hooked by the idea and had to see for himself. He searched for the square bottle in kitchen cabinets and the dining room hutch, in the living room and hall closet. No bourbon, everything but.
He stood in the doorway of the master bedroom, downstairs and couldn't remember the last time he'd been in there; this was their terrain, and besides, in Accokeek it looked different, with new, modern Danish furniture. Could he really have gotten into bed with them on Sunday mornings when he was little, the way his mother said? They were moving around then, too, his father going from one newspaper to another in New England before the jump south.
This house was a lot bigger than the others, too. That was one of his father's selling points, when he'd sprung the news about the move and his big opportunity as a magazine editor in Washington, D.C.
“You'll love it up there," his father had said, “you and Mom both. Wait'll you see the house I found, and it's not that long a drive into D.C...."
Famous last words.
Alex looked around the room. Before, something of his father was always laying around: sweaty clothes from jogging or playing ball or working in the yard, a batch of clippings from newspapers and magazines on the desk or dresser. Or the spidery piece of driftwood they'd found together on the national seashore past Turtle Mound that his father had mounted on an old length of pipe set in another washed-up chunk of wood.
Now, no driftwood or stuff laying around. That was another point his parents had been arguing about. What didn't they fight about? He felt angry, caught in the middle of something he didn't want to understand. Parents were supposed to be solid and sensible. Now his feelings were being jacked all over the map.
How could you hate someone and love them at the same time?
Never mind, he told himself, just find the booze. He finally did, on the upper shelf of his mother's walk-in closet, lined up as neatly as all her stuff, and took the bottle into the kitchen. At the breakfast bar, he splashed a little into a glass and swirled it around, the way his father did. Neat, no ice. But once again he recoiled at the sharp, sickly-sweet smell.
This is stupid. I don't like the stuff! Yeah, well, you've come this far. Do it, chicken!
Alex upended the glass.
He gagged at the taste, wanted to spit it out but managed to keep it down.
Turpentine! It tastes like turpentine! How could people drink that stuff?
Then a small center of warmth fanned out in his stomach. He felt a little lightheaded.
Alex trickled a little more of the reddish liquid into the glass. He was a cowboy bellying up to the bar, a private eye bracing himself to take on a tough case.
“Here's mud in your eye," he said, and downed the booze.
The sharp taste hit again. He felt a whoosh in his head and stomach; a rubbery feeling in his knees made him grab the counter just as Jebbie started barking outside.
He looked but it wasn't his mother or anybody else. No car was in sight. Whatever spooked Jebbie, though a squirrel, a rabbit, maybe a deer, or a hawk hunting for mice or vole or whatever, even an eagle it wasn't fair to keep him waiting like that, after being cooped up all day.
Cleaning up quickly, he puzzled, How come dogs responded so quickly when you paid them a little attention, while with people you never knew what they'd do? Who said we were smarter, anyway?
Putting back the bottle of bourbon, he stopped at the sight of a glint in the back of the closet, between hanging dresses.
Forget it, he told himself, get going. But something made him kneel and reach in. He felt something cold, metallic, grasped something round, and pulled out a rifle.
His eyes bugged wide. The stock had a walnut color, the barrel shone with a deep black matte finish. And a small clip of bullets was locked in place, just ahead of the trigger.
“Oh my God," he murmured. He felt goosebumps all over.
It looked like the .22 caliber job Larry Szabo's father had showed them how to shoot at the target range outside New Smyrna Beach in the spring. But his father claimed to be anti-gun, against shooting of any kind, including hunting, which was big around Accokeek and through the area. And outside of murder mysteries, his mother didn't want to hear about the subject.
Put it back!
He was torn, his thoughts tugged this way and that. Then he saw a compact carrying case, neatly padded, colored red with black strips and half the length of the rifle. So the rifle could be taken apart broken down, they said in the gun magazines he'd seen at Larry's house.
The case would fit easily in his knapsack, the one his father had gotten him for that long-promised overnight hike along the Appalachian Trail. Remove the clips of bullets and there'd be no danger. Head down the road toward the river and cut to the right into the fields on the old Royalton farm. With the carrying case in his knapsack, nobody would know what was inside, and when he got to that Indian whatever ...
His mother wouldn't be home for more than two hours. Cross-legged on the area rug in front of her closet, he quickly figured out how to separate the rifle barrel from the stock and stowed them snugly. Dressing in a hurry, Alex pulled on his Army & Navy Store surplus hunting sweater with the leather patch by the shoulder.
He remembered an evening the week before, complaining to his mother that he couldn't stay after school and take the weight-lifting sessions with Mr. Demirow because he'd miss the bus and there was no other ride, especially with her working.
“In New Smyrna Beach,” he sounded off, “everything was nearby, you didn't need a car or get a lift to do every dumb little thing. Here it’s the other way around. Southern Maryland sucks!”
“Alex!” she responded. “Such language! I won’t have it! You’ll just have to learn to adapt.”
Well, okay, I’m adapting.
He shouldered the knapsack, ran for the door. Outside, he freed the frantically pawing dog.
“Alright, Jeb,” he declared, giving him a big hug. “We’re goin’ to take us a hike.”
Alex and the Eagle is a work of fiction, not the story of real people though its truths may touch all of us. It was inspired by an actual event in the area: the shooting of an eagle. “The imagined scene of the wounded eagle and boy deeply troubled by the shooting stayed with me, so I had to try to make sense of it,” says freelance writer/editor Eli Flam, who lives in Southern Maryland. This is his first novel.
Illustrator Kerry Culbertson, not long graduated from Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, is a free-lance illustrator and sculptor who lives in Mechanicsburg, Pa. and has strong ties to the Bay.
Next Week: Two fateful encounters
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Bay LifeSherry’s Port in the Storm
by Kimberley Music
At Skipper’s Pier in Deale, Sherry Bresnahan sees to it that Christmas comes in July
At the end of a winding road in Deale lies my favorite restaurant Skipper's Pier. Why? Because no place else has Sherry Bresnahan.
This five-foot-two-inch Baysider with the shiny, jet-black ponytail has a motto for Skipper's Pier: “A Port in the Storm."
She knows what it's like to need a port in the storm. Years ago, Sherry and her husband and Skipper's co-owner, John Bresnahan (John B for short), were caught off Thunderbolt, Ga., in a terrible storm.
“It was raining so hard you couldn't see,” Sherry recalls. “I had on John B's rain gear with all the cuffs turned up. John yelled to me through the rain and wind, ‘We have one shot at this piling; if we don't make it, we're going to buy it!’ I'll never forget throwing that line and hitting that piling.”
John took her off the boat, up to the bar, and said, ‘If you don't give her something to drink, she will never get on that boat again.’” She got drinks on the house and docked for free that night. After that, she vowed that she would never charge a boater for “a port in the storm.”
To this day, docking at Skipper's Pier is free.
Starting in 1985, Sherry and John B built Skipper's Pier from scratch. “We didn't even have a kitchen,” she recalls. “It was a shell of a building with nothing in it.” Actually, it had been an oyster house with a trough down the middle of the floor for tossing the oyster shells.
Sherry shrugs about her starting from scratch, but her resolve is clear. “I'm a survivor," she says. “I don't know how to give less than 100 percent.”
That's the way she's always done it. Before Skipper's Pier, she and John B ran the Miss Concrete II, running fishing parties from Ocean City to Bimini. The 24-hour-a-day job prepared them both for running a tight ship at Skipper's Pier.
Because of the long hours of the restaurant business (15 to 16 hours a day are not uncommon), Sherry's business and private lives are intertwined. At home, “I like to say 'I love you' and I like to be told ‘I love you’. And now it runs in the family,” she says.
In her Skipper's Pier family, too, it seems.
A waitress comes up, turns her back and holds up her hair for Sherry to clasp her necklace. No words are spoken; Sherry continues speaking. “My staff honestly cares,” she says. “That's the most important thing caring and working together like a family.
“I've had girls that have worked for me every summer that have worked their way through college here," she continues, like a proud mother. “They keep an eye on Sherry all the time,” she says. Billy Worrall, who manages the crab house, “stays with me right to the end on weekends.”
Sherry loves kids and vice versa. Since she and John B have seven children between them, Skipper's Pier has its share of small customers. Sherry has provided a sandbox, balloons and a children's menu: “I even do peanut butter and jelly,” she laughs. “I wanted to put a train out front, but my insurance company said no.”
Sherry's love for children extends beyond the sandbox. Every summer, the first weekend after July Fourth, she coordinates her biggest event of the year “Christmas in July.” The gift-giving part of this Christmas is a 2PM auction of donated good to benefit Children's Hospital in Washington. Last year’s auction, Sherry’s fourth, raised $4,200 from hot bidding on handmade and souvenir goods, outings and services.
Christmas continues with outdoor dancing and music by the Second Coming until 8PM, when boats decorated with Christmas lights parade through Rockhold Creek, from the jetty to Happy Harbor and back. 24U play rock ‘n’ roll into the morning.
For his unseasonable coming, Santa Claus flies up from Florida. Sherry's sure it's the real one because “his plane ticket actually says Santa Claus.”
Santa presides over Christmas in July this year on Saturday, July 9.
Profiler Kimberley Music works in Virginia and plays on the Chesapeake Bay.
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Dock of the Bay
Academy Plebes Take Leap
On July 1, the 1,220 Plebes of the Naval Academy Class of 1998 took the oath of office in a ceremony marking the start of their career as Naval officers.
Flanked by family and the towering halls of Bancroft Hall, the Plebes accepted the oath read by Commandant of the Midshipman Captain John Padgett III by bellowing a solemn “I do.”
The ceremony marks the end of the Naval Academy’s Induction Day, or “I-Day,” when the incoming class of Midshipmen meet military life.
Taking the oath is a tradition that distinguishes the Naval Academy from other colleges, said Naval Academy Superintendent Thomas C. Lynch. “This ceremony begins pulling them together … and makes them an heir to the Naval Academy tradition of excellence,” Lynch told the audience.
Then he spoke to the Plebes: “From hair cuts to practicing salutes, I-Day is not normal. There is a good reason for this. The profession of leadership you are preparing for is different.”
For the Plebes, the ceremony is the end of the first of many long days. In the morning, Plebes experienced the Naval Academy’s other I-Day “traditions” including military haircuts, medical tests and the issuing of their new wardrobes: athletic sneakers, Dixie Cup hats and sparkling white uniforms.
For the next six weeks the young men and women will learn military etiquette, endure marching drills and learn how to shoot a pistol.
The Midshipmen class is 16 percent women, the largest group since the Academy began accepting women in 1976.
Minorities represent 20 percent of the class, with Hispanics the largest group followed by African-Americans, Asian-Americans and American Indians.
Annapolis Fireworks Fizzle
The city of Annapolis' off-again-on-again fireworks exploded low in the sky this July Fourth for little more than the blink of an eye before they were off again. At 9:25PM, just 10 minutes after the show's start, the night skies dramatically dimmed.
Hundreds turned out for the show. But when many saw what looked like a grand finale they left the Annapolis harbor, missing most of a show that started up again after almost an hour's wait. Some of those went to bed Monday night without hearing the story of the accident that left one fireworks shooter badly burned.
Fireworks are fired by experts; this year and for the last eight years the city contracted with Vitale Pyrotechnic Industries Inc. of New Castle, Pennsylvania.
The bursts are fired through tubes of various sizes and materials for different size blasts. Smaller blasts are shot through what amounts to an heavy duty mailing tube, constructed of specially made cardboard. Larger blasts are shot through a new type plastic tube, like PVC pipe, never before used in the Annapolis show.
"Ron Silverman, the first shooter on the Annapolis barge, was shooting a 10-inch shell [shells range in size from 3 to 12 inches] when it blasted out the bottom of the six-foot-long plastic tube," said Tom Roskelly, city director of public information and tourism. Silverman, 40, suffered second- and third-degree burns to his face and hands, a fractured left forearm and hand and broken ribs. He was medivac-ed out to University of Maryland Shock Trauma, underwent surgery and was listed in critical to stable condition by Tuesday afternoon.
Scott Martin, 38, a second pyrotechnician aboard the fireworks barge, was thought to have dislocated his left shoulder in the blast, but received only a bad contact bruise from where he stood thirty feet away. The shell sent debris flying 40 feet from the barge, but no other boats were hit, thanks to a fire department safety zone.
The last time a round exploded prematurely in Annapolis fireworks history was in 1991. Injuries were far less serious.
The City of Annapolis Fire Department is investigating to prevent trouble next year.
The Perils of Lyme Disease
Stewart H. Dowell, 62, of West River, a retired banker and former owner of the Bay View Inn in Shady Side, traveled to Virginia Beach last month to check on property he owned. He became ill but was able to drive himself to the hospital.
He grew sicker by the hour with chills, nausea and fever that topped 105 degrees.
On June 16, Dowell died. Friends say that he succumbed either to Lyme disease or to Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
“It came on very suddenly,” said Tom Robbins, a close friend.
Test results that may determine the cause of death aren’t back yet. But Dowell’s is a cautionary tale for those of us who revel in the outdoors and fear Lyme disease which comes from the bite of deer ticks.
Dowell lived in southern Anne Arundel County, which is loaded with deer. But death from Lyme disease is very rare, says Mejeret Woubeshet, a specialist in the disease control section of Maryland’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
Even diagnosing it can be difficult because Lyme disease mimics pneumonia and other illnesses. Last year in Maryland, 207 cases were formally diagnosed, 10 of them in Anne Arundel and four in Calvert County.
But many, many cases aren’t included in those numbers in part because of the strict criteria for diagnosis prescribed by the Centers for Disease Control. In addition, some physicians don’t know what to look for. Lyme disease didn’t even get named until after a mysterious outbreak of arthritis-like illness in Lyme, Conn., in 1975.
“It’s hard compiling statistics because Lyme disease is not widely known,” observed Woubeshet.
You’ve heard it before, but here is what to look for: a reddish patch, fever, headache, stiff neck, fatigue, general soreness and joint pain.
Experts advise to be especially careful in May, June and July by avoiding tick-infested areas and tucking pant legs into socks and shirts into pants. Wear light-colored clothing, they say, so that the ticks can be spotted easily. Also, practice frequent tick-checks (with friend, these can be fun).
Early treatment can prevent serious health problems, among them arthritis, heart damage, paralysis and blindness.
Bobcats and Coyotes in Maryland
Here’s what you do to find out if a bobcat’s around: Draw a three-foot circle in open dirt. Sweep the circle to make it nice and clean. In the center, erect a post.
Now here’s the hard part scent the post with urine from a fox. It’s a smell no bobcat can resist. The curious critter will step right up, and in the nice fresh dirt, you’ll find the toenail-less tracks that say, “Bobcat was here.”
You can draw your circle anywhere, but right now, only in western Maryland is it likely to draw bobcats, says Peter Jayne, a Department of Natural Resources expert on fur bearing animals and upland game.
In the days before settlers arrived in the New World, bobcats were all about. But wood-starved Europeans cut down many of the forests and, with hunting and trapping, pushed bobcats to Maryland’s western border. Today bobcats are seldom seen east of Frederick.
When DNR hears about a bobcat as they do in the Patuxent and Pocomoke basins now and again they draw their circle. Bobcats were spotted in Harwood (Anne Arundel County) in 1983, in Hollywood (St. Mary’s) in 1986, and through Smallwood (Charles) in 1992.
You want to see a wild thing, coyote’s your creature. What they can’t resist are cats.
“They just love housecats. They’ll do anything to get one,” says Jayne. Small dogs, too, though Labs are probably safe.
Melons are almost as highly regarded as cats. And you bet they can’t eat just one. “Watermelons, cantaloupes, they take bites out of a lot of them,” Jayne says.
So if you love cats or raise melons, Maryland’s coyote invasion is news for which you might want to brace yourself. Hold on.
Coyotes which have migrated here from the prairie states are about as prolific as the rest of us Maryland non-natives. Look how well they’ve taken root in earlier adopted Mississippi: 500 pelts were taken in 1975; by 1988, the number soared to 40,000.
Coyotes are now thriving in all of Maryland’s Pennsylvania-verging counties. With adolescents typically moving about 75 miles away from their parents’ territories to set up housekeeping on their own, their range keeps growing.
These handsome eastern coyotes of ours are way bigger than their western relatives, so much so that they seem to have mated, somewhere along the way, with wolves. A very big male may top 50 pounds, and coyotes are willing to feed on prey larger than themselves even deer if cats or melons aren’t convenient.
Calvert Sailor Survives Killer Storm
Claire Yeats, 24, of Lusby, escaped with a dislocated knee from a thunder squall that swept the skipper of the 43-foot race boat Rainbow overboard south of Nantucket.
Yeats, Claus Husted, 55, and Rainbow owner Brent Dietrich, 24 of Hamburg, Germany, survived high seas returning to their Rhode Island port after finishing fifth in their class of 12 boats in the annual Newport to Bermuda Race.
Lost was Daren Chew, 30, of Charlestown, R.I., who was washed overboard by a 15-foot wave in 35-knot winds. Dietrich said Chew had been wearing a harness, but Coast Guard spokesman Roger Wetherell said it was uncertain whether he had it clipped to the boat.
A 28-hour search for Chew covered 10,500 square miles before it was called off. After the storm, the crew drifted through the night before a Coast Guard cutter, responding to a distress call, reached it at 4:30AM.
Wetherell said the crew had little sailing experience.
Return of the Shad?
Amidst all the news about Maryland’s improving shad fishery is hope for fishermen who years ago enjoyed catching shad in the Patuxent.
Thanks to special funding, some 300,000 to 400,000 shad fry hatched from wild stock in state hatcheries have been released in the Patuxent to, it is hoped, restart the species thereabouts. It worked with rockfish of the Patuxent.
DNR tidewater fisheries chief Pete Jensen said not to plan on fishing for shad in the Patuxent soon, but "maybe in 10 years at the least." Shad leave their place of origin after the first year and don't return from the ocean to spawn for three to four years. It will take several spawning cycles to get things going.
Meanwhile at the head of the Chesapeake, DNR’s shad restoration program is doing just fine. If a chart was kept on fish movement up the fish ladder at Conowingo Dam, it would be almost a straight line up, Jensen said. In 19 years, the number of shad counted when using the ladder has skyrocketed from 97 to 24,000.
When a moratorium was placed on shad in 1980, the upper Bay (Susquehanna complex) population was figured to be less than 10,000. This year it is 129,000. Those who recall the days of shad runs on the Potomac, Pocomoke, Patuxent, Tuckaho and Susquehanna complex can appreciate how wonderful it would be to have this species back in numbers sufficient to lift the moratorium.
From Bug to Biopredator
Consider the injustice of things. The insects that make it big are often the ones you’d rather squash than live with: mosquitoes, flies, fleas, gypsy moths and squash borers.
The bugs you’re rooting for, the pest-eaters, often need a little help to become successes. That’s why every spring when pussy willow turns yellow and red maple is pollinating, Jeffrey Aldrich leaves the Insect Chemical Ecology Lab of Beltsville Agricultural Research Center to roam in friendly gardens.
This brief period is his chance to launch spined soldier bugs into commercial stardom.
The spined soldier bug has what it takes to achieve commercial stardom. Someday, Aldrich and his bug may be famous.
His bug is a smaller, less armored version of the familiar stink bug that likes to come indoors. Stink bugs, however, are commercially useless, at least for now, while spined soldier bugs eat “lots of caterpillars and soft beetle larvae,” says Aldrich. Those are the bugs who like to eat your garden.
Getting enough friendly bugs into your garden is the problem.
Pheromones make it possible. Produced by eager males, those scent secretions are irresistible to females. But, aha!, a synthetic duplicate of the pheromones of the spined soldier bug is so cheap that Aldrich can spray it all over the place in those budding days of spring, recruiting free females for the future of the species.
Last April, Aldrich caught over 17,000 females in 30 traps. Weeks later, he was transporting their 400,000 offspring onto potato plants all over Maryland. With experience like that, he looks forward to producing marketable numbers of these hungry bugs: hundreds of thousands can produce.
“The logistics of getting the bugs from the lab onto plants is a problem, but I’m optimistic,” Aldrich told New Bay Times before leaving for a summer in Italy to further his research.
“I want to go further,” says Aldrich, “trapping wild adults, hold them at a chilly temperature to synchronize their maturity with pests’ arrivals; studying how they work, and finally putting together a kit individual growers could use to trap their own females and produce their own young predators.”
Someday, thanks to Aldrich and science, spined soldier bugs may be vital workers in every farm and garden, roaming cabbage, broccoli and potato, hunting for aphids, Mexican bean beetles and cabbage loopers.
Way Downstream ...
Australians soon will be able to use low-interest credit cards to buy energy-efficient products. The federal government has made this arrangement with a bank so that people can buy solar hot-water heaters, home insulation and even low-energy light bulbs with no downpayment ...
In Maine, paper six-pack rings manufactured by International Paper are being tested in preparation for a ban on plastic holders that will take effect in 18 months. Environmental advocates hope the paper rings catch on and ultimately replace the polluting, non-recyclable plastic...
In Iowa, folks have just about had it with the stench from 28,000 hog-feeding operations. Iowa farmers set up their own environmental group, and recently Iowa State University sponsored the first-ever International Round Table on Swine Odor Control.
(Rumor has it that matters worsened when the new crop of presidential aspirants showed up in Des Moines last weekend to start campaigning for the 1996 Iowa Precinct Caucuses.)
Our Creature Feature this week also comes to us from the barnyard, where the Humane Society has made a discovery.
Cows come to the barn faster and give more milk when they hear Elvis Presley songs, the Society said in declaring its second annual National Farm Awareness Week.
Other farm animals are complex, too, the Society says. Chickens, for instance, “are complex creatures who can recognize and remember up to 100 birds.”
Their point? We should care about how farm animals are treated.
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Celebrating a Free Press
Freedom of the press belongs to those who own one, proclaimed fabled New Yorker reporter A.J. Liebling.
Liebling once said that he could write better than anyone who could writer faster than he and faster than anyone who could write better. Two of his main gripes were publishers who didn’t pay well and editors who tortured the life out of a gifted writers’ sentences.
Though writers and editors don’t get along any better today, we live in a different world than Liebling, who died in 1963. Now, freedom of the press belongs to just about anybody who wants it.
That’s independence worth celebrating this July 4 week.
We enjoy such unprecedented freedom of the press because the press costs so little nowadays. Today’s “press” is actually a computer … a very special computer smart enough to know “desk-top publishing” and friendly enough that just about anybody can use it with a little obedience training.
It can also be cheap. You or your worst enemy can buy one for less than $1000. A good electric typewriter cost more a decade ago, and it was nowhere near smart enough to publish a newspaper. Since then, Apple Computer’s Macintosh, the first and friendliest desk-top publishing computer, has made typewriters obsolete and pushed Liebling back into the dark ages.
Today, no matter how small your town or sprawling your region, it can have its own newspaper. We have a friend in Illinois who prints 1,300 copies of his weekly paper; that’s one for every household in town. (He bought his computer and his newspaper for about $1000, by the way.)
New Bay Times, on the other hand, belongs to a region: we belong to every one of you who live in the vast Chesapeake basin or hold its interest dear to your heart. In addition, the news, interpretation and features you enjoy each week in New Bay Times are shared by folks in Italy, Romania and Japan as well as in 22 states, including Alaska.
For communities big or small, newspapers create a space where folks can get together and find out what’s new. In other times and places, such spaces were town halls or forums which were nothing more or less than the marketplaces of the Roman empire or even the corner drugstore.
Forums and good newspapers both build two-way streets. In such places, you get a chance to talk as well as listen. The Homer, Alaska News is one of our favorite papers because of its letters to the editor: out there where people don’t see each other all the time, they work up an appetite for shared words and prepare them carefully. Similarly, the letters and stories you write to us are our favorite part of New Bay Times. On the Chesapeake or in Alaska, a good newspaper builds a better community by opening two-way talk.
Here in Maryland, where “town centers” have more identity in planners’ offices than in real life, a newspaper like New Bay Times helps us remember how much we have in common.
No matter how special your interest, it can have its own newspaper. Christian fundamentalists can have theirs. Militant homosexuals can have theirs. Rose, quilt or dog enthusiasts can and do have theirs, too.
No matter how downtrodden or war-torn your people, they can have their own newspaper. American Indians, who have the country’s worst unemployment rate and some of its most perplexing problems, hear and see themselves at their best in News from Indian Country, published in Hayward, Wisconsin.
Though independent newspapers are nothing new, we can’t help shooting off these verbal pyrotechnics to celebrate the recent birth of Primera Plana (Front Page) in El Salvador, one of the world’s longest-suffering nations. The premier issue of 24 enviable pages of top-notch work, well-written stories and slightly wicked photographs.
What’s astonishing is not the skill: El Salvador’s war years have sung a siren song to action-loving, truth-seeking reporters from all over the world. Nor is the technology a surprise. We used to sit with Thomas Long, Primera Plana’s photography editor, and talk of how Macintosh would set us free. Tom also writes for New Bay Times.
What’s astonishing is that two decades of brutal repression spanning back almost to the days of Liebling have not silenced El Salvadoran voices nor squelched its people’s desire for truth.
The birth of Primera Plana tells us that a free press belongs whoever we are to you and me.
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Letters to the Editor
Something for Everybody in These Pages
Dear New Bay Times:
I’m one to find a metaphor in just about anything. I found one in your paper last week.
I am very proud of the company I work with, the Cosmetic Center. For five years I’ve seen it grow and been involved with its growth, through determination, struggle, dedication and enjoyment.
The Annapolis store is very important to me because of the Chesapeake Bay.
When I heard about Mr. Bowie being taken into the dark, deep sea, the terror and sadness really stuck. I am sorry for him and his family.
I wanted to know more, for I understand the way people are driven to the hunt, to succeed, to achieve the big one. Not until I read New Bay Times did I know the facts of Mr. Bowie’s fate in black and white not just another story full of holes.
Mr. Bowie’s story really makes one think about the power of nature vs. human power. I’ll continue thinking about this story and all the reasons we do what we do. I’ll tell it to friends, acquaintances, associates. Thanks New Bay Times.
Dear New Bay Times:
I want to take this opportunity to thank you for advertising my Shady Side adult co-ed soccer league in “The Bay by Day.”
I have since acquired enough players for two whole teams. Some of my current players come from the Arnold area, some from Virginia and some closer to home. I hope to field four teams next year.
I would also like to thank Chuck’s Lawn Service for maintaining the fields free of charge; Rick Davis and the Shady Side Boys and Girls’ Club for the use of the field; and Dick Kann, Tommy Kelly, George Ablonczy, Jamie and Gary Webster and my other crazy, dedicated players for their help and support throughout our year-round season.
With all the help, playing the game is fun and easy. To join us, just come to Shady Side Recreation. Center Sundays at 6PM.
Shady Side, Md.
Dear New Bay Times:
I was so charmed by your very appropriate Fourth of July cover, a scene oh so familiar to me when I lived in Washington, D.C. and worked for the Smithsonian.
I was even more charmed to learn it was a painting by Frank Wright, with whom I studied art at George Washington University. He is as gifted a teacher as he is a painter.
And speaking of charm, I find that friends and subjects of New Bay Times seem to be ones I have known, a kind of irony that reminds me of a webby device named by Kurt Vonnegut in Cat’s Cradle: the “karas.” The karas is a group of individuals who meet and remeet since they are loosely entertwined in the same destiny.
I like to think that those of us who live in the environs of the Bay are involved at least in the same endeavor to love and protect it. Wright does a superb job of love and appreciation with his work. Interesting, interesting story.
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DEEP CREEK LAKE TRAVEL TRIPS
… Some tips on obtaining information on Deep Creek Lake, north of Oakland in Garrett County.
•DISTANCE: 235 miles from Deale; 4 hours 15 minutes driving within the speed limit. Take Route 70 west, pick up Route 68 at Hancock, then go south on Route 219 west of Grantsville.
•FISHING: Johnny's Bait Shop: 301/387-FISH.
•BOAT RENTALS: Bill's Marine Service: 301/387-5536.
•BOATING REGULATIONS: Deep Creek Lake Recreation Area Office: 301/387-1111.
•CAMPING: Popular Deep Creek Lake State Park, one of Maryland's very best, including boat launching ramp and sandy beach: 301/387-5563. For info on private nearby campgrounds: 301/334-1948.
•SKIING & GOLF: Wisp Slopes: 301/387-4911.
•GENERAL INFORMATION: Get lodging, horseback riding, whitewater rafting, dining, and other information in a free 100-page booklet from Deep Creek Lake-Garrett County Promotion Council, 200 South Third Street, Oakland, Md. 21550 (301/334-1948).
•BURTON TIPS: For economical family dining, Little Sandy's Restaurant on Route 219 has hearty home-cooked country meals, most priced at less than $6, and is also a popular gathering place for fishermen and hunters. Dan Quail is among those who stops in, as are the Rooneys of the Pittsburgh Steelers (301/387-9850). Very popular and reasonable in price for outdoorsmen seeking lodging is Point View Inn(301/387-5555).
Is Deep Creek Inviting Deep Trouble?
Pullout: Deep Creek Lake has become a busy place, a very busy place. Much of the serenity of mountain life has vanished in the past decade.
People, people, people. They are everywhere, and we have their “tracks” to remind us of their presence. Where will it end?
What will be left when it ends?
This came to mind during a recent week fishing the freshwaters of Deep Creek Lake in Maryland's westernmost county of Garrett. The visit was a reminder that development in Maryland's recreational areas is not restricted to Chesapeake Bay Country and Ocean City.
In the mountains, the hardwoods and conifers fall to accommodate mountain-loving people as closer to the Chesapeake and Atlantic, the marshes are filled or drained to accommodate Bay-loving people.
With the changes are scars and controversy.
Along the ocean, the Bay or the mountains, many of those who at first welcomed development now say enough is enough. Others haven't reached that point yet, but they will. Eventually, they will.
Will it be too late too late to save what originally attracted people to live and to play in Maryland?
There are some who aren't aware of what's going on. They are swept along with the tide of people who go because other people go.
They stroll the crowded and noisy boardwalk at Ocean City, too far from the breaking surf to hear its roar or feel the power of its waves; they build on ecologically fragile marshes then wonder where the fish, fowl and other wildlife has gone.
Or, in Deep Creek Lake Country, they order pizza delivery by phone and lament that the mountainous wilderness roamed by Meschach Browning more than a century ago is vanishing.
Maryland state tourism officials boast that Maryland is "America in Miniature." We have it all - the mountains, the flatlands, the Bay and the sandy beaches of the Atlantic within a 300-mile stretch.
The potential consequences of more and more people many of them intent on enjoying nature's paradises was made alarmingly clear in Department of Natural Resources Secretary Torrey C. Brown update on people pressure during a recent meeting of the Mason-Dixon Outdoor Writers at Coolfont Recreation Area at Berkeley Springs, West Virginia.
Consider just one point he made. It is frightening.
The Press of People
The earth's population, said Brown, reached the point recently where it equaled the number of all the people who have lived on our earth since the beginning of time. Yes, you read that right. There are as many people living on our earth today as have lived and died since humankind began.
Chilling. Especially when one realizes that sooner or later many of those people now living and those who follow them will want to get away from their busy lives and locales in pursuit of more refreshing times in far-flung places.
Who can blame them? But, hey, how big is this state, this nation, this world anyhow? It's not that big, and it will remain its present size while the population continues to grow meaning that even more people will join in the chase for life and recreation in diminishing natural settings.
Will so many people be in the chase that when they find what they think they want, so many other people will be there that it is no longer what they want? If you know the answer, it isn't a question.
We who live in delightful Chesapeake Bay country are aware of what's going on around us, and because many of us at times visit, fish, party or vacation at Ocean City we also appreciate what is going on there. What has been going on there for 50 years, though, has intensified beyond comprehension.
And now it is coming to Deep Creek Lake, a centipede-shaped, man-made impoundment of 3,900 acres nestled in the once-wilderness mountains of Garrett County.
Chesapeake Bay Country was the first to endure the masses of people because it was closer to the metropolitan areas. Then the Bay Bridge made Ocean City more accessible. Now that the Bay and ocean are crowded, many people look west to cool, green mountains and sweet water so clear one can see the deep, rocky bottom.
Deep Creek Lake Discovered
The Deep Creek Lake story duplicates the Chesapeake Bay/Ocean City sagas but several decades later. Improved highways opened much of the Bay's waterfront to people, then the Bay Bridge and a virtually rebuilt Route 50 created quick and convenient access to Ocean City and much of the Eastern Shore. Once the old Matapeake Ferry was replaced, the invasion was on.
When old Route 40, once the gateway to the West, was replaced by an improved interstate highway system, Deep Creek Lake was ready to be next.
A five or six-hour drive from Washington and Baltimore on winding, narrow and scenic old Route 40, and onward through the cities of Frederick, Hagerstown, Hancock and Cumberland, became a virtual straight shot (even much of the mountain terrain was leveled) of less than four hours.
Lakeside cottages have been replaced by swanky second and first homes, many of them condominiums. Rustic and reasonably priced motels have evolved into busy recreational/dining complexes. Country stores are replaced by a supermarket worthy of any city. Small shops and roadside stands have become yuppie attractions. A quaint ski slope now has trails galore, not to mention an 18-hole championship golf course, resort hotel and convention center. And on weekends especially, the lake itself is crowded with boats .
Deep Creek Lake has become a busy place, a very busy place, and threatens to get even busier. Much of the serenity of mountain life along the lake with its 65 miles of shoreline has vanished within the past decade.
Some of the businesses along the lake's shore are beginning to wonder when enough is enough and whether enough is now.
Among them are Johnny and Elaine Marple, who operate Johnny's Bait House, sandwiched between busy Route 219 and the impoundment built in 1925 by Youghiogheny Electric Company, purchased by Pennsylvania Electric Company and now known as Penelec.
The Marples come from Garrett County stock; they’ve lived their lives on the lake. He started the business selling worms to visiting fishermen from a roadside stand in the 50s and now has one of the most modern sporting goods stores in Maryland. But wander down the slope on the north side of his shop, and you can't help but see something representative of what troubles the Marples.
Look across the lake. You will see an ugly notch carved in the south end of what was once the gentle slope of a mountain. That jagged hole was cut recently for a road that services a complex of new homes.
Look elsewhere to the mountains that border the lake and see countless new clearings, many of them already filled by condos and homes, which also need access roads, utilities and all else that comes with development.
Visitors now flock to the more modern and busy recreational/motel/hotel/rental condo complexes. A way of charming tourist life is disappearing.
The land is valuable. The Marples could sell or replace the cottages with more modern units and make much more money than the current $300 weekly rentals bring in. But they prefer the old -fashioned aspects of enjoying Deep Creek Lake.
“We don't want to lose what we have on the lake, what drew people here in the first place,” says Johnny Marple.
A Flurry of Regulations
But Johnny Marple is in the minority.
Into the changing face of Deep Creek Lake has stepped the Department of Natural Resources, which now has a contract with Penelec to manage the lake. Once, property owners could install removable docks for $3 a season off their land, which doesn't quite reach the water's edge. Penelec owns a thin strip varying from several to 200 yards completely around the water.
Now the dock fee is than $150 and more a year, $1,000 for commercial enterprises; a mooring buoy fee is $50. Penelec now profits, and DNR has expenses in managing the lake. Many property owners complain loudly, though dock permit frontage can raise the value of their homes by $20,000 to $40,000 or more.
Though they don't own land to the water's edge, many property owners grumble about public access for others to hike, bird-watch or fish along that buffer strip between their homes and the water. Several years ago, there were volatile confrontations between dock owners and fishermen who cast from their boats to waters adjacent to the docks. That's where bass and other fish are most likely to be caught.
One dock-owner brandished a shotgun in a showdown with an angler. There were many confrontations, but authorities eventually convinced dock owners they didn't own the water surrounding their docks.
Many grumble about boating restrictions, which ban houseboats of any size, or other boats of more than 25 feet with an exception for pontoon boats of up to 30 feet. The heavy traffic from sailboats (this is the home of the Flying Scot Class), jet skis, cruisers, fishing boats, rowboats, kayaks and other craft requires extensive patrolling and restrictions.
The fishing is great, but there are signs that excessive pressure could be taking a toll. The lake was the first in the state to have a closed season for keeping bass (March 1 through June 15), and the once-flourishing walleye fishery has stalled.
No waters in Maryland are better for catching large yellow perch and bluegills than Deep Creek Lake. Check a copy of fishing in Maryland and you will note that nearly all citation bluegill were caught there, hundreds of them; 10-inchers are not uncommon. Nor are yellow perch like the 13-incher taken by Anne Arundel Countian Denise Albrecht a couple of weeks ago while honeymooning there with her husband Phil.
There are smallmouth and largemouth bass, the state's best population of redeye bass, and catfish, trout, crappies, carp, northern pike and pickerel. The ice fishing is the best in the state, and what's left of the mountain woodlands surrounding the lake offer some of Maryland's best deer, wild turkey and ruffed grouse hunting.
Black bear once again roam those mountains, but one wonders if they will collide with development. It's an outdoor paradise out there in the mountains surrounding Deep Creek Lake, but if you want to enjoy its bounty, plan on doing so before long. It can't last unless attitudes and values change. And our track record is not enviable.
FISH FINDER ....
Little has changed since the last report, other than the fishing has got even better. But a scarcity of fishermen both on private and charterboats continues to make one wonder what anglers are waiting for.
Hardheads are bigger and more plentiful than at any time in the past 40 years and Norfolk spot are big and abundant, but, curiously, fishermen seem intent on waiting for bluefish. It could be a long time before bottom-fishermen ever have it this good again and remember, the daily creel for hardheads is a liberal 20 a day.
• MID-CHESAPEAKE: A few black drum might remain at the Stone Rock and Poplar Island, but they are undependable. Blues remain scarce, but maybe not for long. Word of blues averaging a pound and breaking water as far as the eye can see down off the mouth of the Potomac suggests at least some of them will be coming this way: they always have when in such numbers. Hardheads of medium to large size are plentiful at the mouth of the Choptank and farther upriver, also at Holland Point, Plum Point and Eastern Bay. Spot fishing remains good, so does catch and release fishing for rock. Catches of a few Spanish mackerel near the mouth of the Bay means they should show before too long and mixed in with small blues.
•LOWER BAY: The big news is the arrival of even more blues off the mouth of the Potomac and moving up into it. They're too small, too numerous and too anxious to feed on the surface for effective chumming, but trollers using small surgical hoses or spoons can quickly catch their limit of 10 each a day. Then try for other species such as hardheads, some of which are of 15 to 16 inches with many of them at the Mud Lead, where jumbo spot and more of the first of the sea trout are finally showing up. Hardheads are also plentiful at Tangier and Pocomoke Sounds. Add white perch to Potomac bottom-fishing.
•UPPER BAY: Hardheads and big spot remain most everywhere from Thomas Point northward. Also more white perch evident north of the Bay Bridge. Catfishing is better than in many years, with some of six pounds off Hacketts. Only a few scattered blues, but good for rockfishing. The Bay Bridge is a good bet, but remember you must release the rock.
*OCEAN CITY: Warming waters will send the mako sharks farther north, but other shark species will fill the void. Tuna catches continue to improve, and the stage is set for a blast of white marlin. Headboat fishing is fair, a few tautogs taken at the North Jetty; surf fishing at Ocean City and Assateague is so-so. Look for sea trout to make their move.
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War Of The Bugs
Forces of good and evil battle for your garden. Sometimes it ain’t pretty.
Good Bugs To Know
by Pamela B. King
Southern Maryland Extension Agent
Goodness gracious! There’re “gators” in my garden! They’re only a half an inch long now, but there’re millions of ‘em. What am I gonna do?
Relax. You’re among friends. Those tiny, blue-black “alligators” with orange spots are the young (the larvae) of lady bird beetles, who are eating the aphids that suck the life out of your plants. They and their parents, also knows as ladybugs winged red or orange beetles with black spots are voracious feeders that eat mites, aphids and other small insects and their eggs.
In fields and gardens where prey is plentiful and insecticides are not, large populations of ladybugs can develop. Then the bugs had better beware. Seven-spotted lady beetles, for example, may eat several hundred aphids each day.
This is a good year for ladybugs. “We’ve never had so many beneficials,” says Pat Bramhall of Bramhall Family Farm in Lothian, where insecticides seldom are used.
“Beans and potatoes are covered with ladybugs and ‘alligators’ which are three times the length of a ladybug and twice as ugly,” Bramhall reported. “I’d never seen the larvae before and now they’re everywhere.”
But there’s truth in the old nursery rhyme. Lady bugs do fly away home. So the bugs you purchase commercially may not stay, even if aphids abound. Experts say that it’s a better idea to conserve and encourage local populations by avoiding insecticides, particularly broad-spectrum ones.
Other friendly “alligators” include the larvae of beautiful golden-eyed lacewings. So active are these predators that they’re called “aphid lions.” They are also cannibalistic, so each egg is laid on the tip of a long, silk stalk for protection. Things are tough out there!
The Stuff of Horror Movies
Here’s some stuff from which horror movies are made. True bugs (insects that belong to the group Hemiptera) eat other insects and mites by stabbing them with their beaks, lifting them up and sucking out their body fluids. Really!
It’s all part of nature’s pest-prey cycle. The big-eyed bug, a brown insect just one-eighth of an inch long, has been reported to consume an average 1,600 spider mites during its development on cotton plants.
Remember Invasion of the Body Snatchers? Another horror flick in the making is the life cycle of the parasitic wasps. Female Braconid wasps, for example, insert their eggs into the bodies of live caterpillars.
The wasp larvae feed on the insides of the caterpillar and grow as the caterpillar slowly dies. The larvae then emerge from their host’s body and spin white, silken cocoons. If you have ever seen a hornworm with “eggs” all over it, this is what has happened.
Sounds pretty terrible, but these tiny wasp friends can help keep pests from overrunning your garden. Some, such as Pediobius foveolatus, the wasp parasite of Mexican Bean Beetle larvae, may soon be in your garden store. Now Maryland Department of Agriculture breeds these small non-stinging wasps for soybean farmers, selling them for $14 a batch of 500. These wasps die each winter so new batches must be bought each year. This year’s crop will soon be ready.
(Call 410/841-5920 to find out how to purchase and release this wasp.)
These Flies Are Your Friends
Did you ever think you could come to like flies? Some, such as the yellow-striped Syrphid fly, hover around flowers, pollinating them. Their larvae are pretty disgusting, but these pinkish green, slug-like maggots are effective aphid predators.
A single larva may consume up to 400 aphids during development. It will stab the aphid with its mouth parts and suck out its juices.
Gross, but effective.
So what about the best-known insect predators, the marvelous praying mantis? Although these wonderfully interesting animals do eat insect pests, they eat good insects, too. Their egg masses, which look like mounds of brown polystyrene, are sold commercially. But few of the several hundred young nymphs that hatch from the mass will survive. Most starve or are consumed by predators, including their brothers and sisters. Survivors disperse rapidly to avoid becoming someone else’s dinner.
Beneficial insect have always been out in your garden, down among the leaves, a living part of nature’s complex plan. But we have to appreciate them and help them help us.
Look down, crawl around, and learn to tell the good guys from the bad buys. Go Gators!
Good Bugs on Parade
The Lady Bug’s Insect-Eating Forms
“Alligators”: Ladybug larvae are blue-black with orange spots and tiny legs emerging from a beetle-like body that’s reminiscent of a caterpillar in its apparent segmentation. The larvae feed, then stick to a leaf. The lady bug emerges and leaves behind the dried-up shell.
Ladybugs: Winged, spotted small beetles that eat up plant predators before they fly away home. Bodies are typically red or orange; color and number of spots vary.
The Lace Wing’s and Larvae
Aphid Lions: The segmented, wiggly-legged larvae of golden-eyed lacewings.
Lacewings: The delicate, graceful, translucent green, winged adult.
You’ll see only the small wasp, less than a half-inch long or their silken cocoons. The larvae are snug inside cabbage worms, eating.
Tiny (about 1/8 inch) and brown with longish feelers and eyes big like cicadas’. Look for them in cotton fields.
Delicate and green in youth, these curious creatures grow in maturity into brown giants as long as your hand. Their eyes are big, legs long and their hands are folded in hypocritical prayer. Though they’ll eat any bug they encounter, they won’t bite you.
Meanwhile, Bad Bugs Are Lurking...
by Jon Traunfeld
Maryland Extension Fruit and Vegetable Specialist
In the other corner are the bugs you’ve got to worry about, vegetarian fellows who’ll eat root, stem, leaf and fruit out from under you. Study carefully so you can learn to tell the bad guys from the good.
Keep this list so you’ll know who’s who:
These small, soft-bodied, sap-sucking insects come in practically all the colors of the rainbow. They are usually kept in check by many different predators, notably ladybird beetle larvae and flower-fly adults and larvae.
When you notice these “plant lice” feeding on new growth, look at them carefully with a hand lens or magnifying glass. You will probably also see some brownish looking aphid “mummies” with exit holes. These have been parasitized and a small beneficial wasp will soon emerge from the mummy. A one- to two-percent horticultural oil or soap spray will also help control infestations.
During hot, dry weather, spider mites increase dramatically. If you notice that your leaves are beginning to look “washed out,” stippled or flecked with white, turn the leaf over and look closely for little red dots the dreaded European red spider mite.
With serious infestations, you will see webs created between leaves. A hard spray of water, insecticidal soap or horticultural oil sprays will help. Be sure to get good spray coverage on the top and bottom of all affected leaves.
Gray, brown or black, this one-inch or two-inch-long caterpillar curls up when disturbed. This critter is capable of sawing off young, healthy stems and dragging the plant top into underground burrows. Working the soil prior to planting helps to expose and destroy the larvae. Where they persist, wrap plant stems below and above ground with aluminum foil or place a barrier collar around plants.
Imported Cabbage Worm
This caterpillar is velvety pale-green and chews big, ragged holes in cabbage-family plants, leaving tell-tale dark-green pellets behind. The adult is a small white moth frequently seen flying around the garden. Look for the moth’s yellow, bullet-shaped eggs laid singly on leaves.
Floating row covers draped over plants and secured to the ground with soil will exclude this pest. Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a biological insecticide for caterpillars that can be used effectively when pest larvae are small.
These lovelies cause emotional problems for some gardeners. For the adventurous, there is a slug cookbook. For the rest of us there is no silver bullet, but there are many effective methods for preventing and controlling damaging populations: spray slugs with a mixture of water and vinegar.
Or, sprinkle sharp sand, ground-up crab or oyster shells or a mixture of lime and aluminum sulfate around problem plants. You also can nail thin copper strips to raised beds. Their slime sets up an electrical current upon contact.
Squash Vine Borer
The bane of many a vegetable gardener, this cream-colored, brown-headed caterpillar bores into squash stalks around mid-June after emerging from eggs laid by the adult female, which is rather large, red and waspish looking. The larvae can feed for up to a month before they emerge and enter another life stage.
The tell-tale signs are gradual plant wilt and an accumulation of frass (borer excrement) at the entrance holes. By this point, few gardeners have the heart or courage to do anything but cry and replant. Here are seasonal alternatives:
On discovering damage: slit the plant stem and remove the larva. Hill up soil around the damaged area and the plant will keep on growing and producing.
In early July, sow a late crop too late for the pest.
This beetle is a main reason why American gardeners are so dependent on the insecticide Sevin. The striped version is yellow with three long black stripes; his spotted cousin is yellow with 11 black spots. Both kinds over winter as adults in garden debris and can transmit bacterial wilt, a devastating disease of cucumbers and muskmelon.
First generation larvae, also called southern corn root worm, feed on plant roots and stems. The voracious adults can be controlled by hand-picking or with chemical (carbonyl) or botanical (, rotenone) sprays. Newly transplanted plants can be covered with floating row covers, which must be removed during flowering to allow for pollination. Fall or early spring tilling also helps to reduce populations.
Mexican Bean Beetle
It is not uncommon to find two or more life stages of this pest at any one time in a bean planting. Both larvae and adults skeletons leaves, producing a lacy appearance. The adult is copper colored and distinguished from lady-bird beetles by its 16 spots. It prefers bush beans to pole or lima beans. The yellow eggs are laid in clusters on leaf undersides and can be easily located, along with larvae and adults, and destroyed.
Pediobius foveolatus, a small non-stinging wasp, is an effective larval parasite of MBB (Read about it in Good Bugs, above.)
Colorado Potato Beetle
This ubiquitous pest over winters as an adult in garden trash and emerges in early May to feed and mate. The orange eggs are laid on leaf undersides; plump, reddish-orange grubs have a double row of black spots on each side. The grubs and adults are heavy plant feeders that actually prefer eggplant to potato. They can be hand-picked in any stage or controlled with sprays.
True bugs are distinguished by their triangulated thorax and ability to inject toxins where they feed. These toxins may cause deformed buds, twisted stems and cupped leaves. The harlequin, or calico, bug is red and black and always at home on turnip, mustard and collard greens and Brussels sprouts and horseradish. The barrel-shaped white and black eggs are very noticeable on leaf undersides.
Adults hibernate in plant debris, so good garden sanitation is helpful. Floating row covers and hand-picking are alternatives to chemical or botanical sprays.
University of Maryland Cooperative Extension Service, Bulletin 252: Control of Insects and Diseases in Home Vegetable Gardens: $2.00, and PMA 11: Insect Pests of Vegetables (with color photo plates):$3.00. Both available through your county extension office.
Gardening at a Glance: The Organic Gardener's Handbook on Vegetables, Fruits, Nuts and Herbs (1991) by Tanya Denckla,.
Rodale’s Color Handbook of Garden Insects (1979) by Anna Carr.
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Sky Talk - Who's Here
Out of the Blue, Abundance from the Bay
It’s the season of amazing grace, when out of the blue the Bay may bowl you or me over with bounty. After you regather your wits, you realize that abundance like this is what the oldtimers remember. This is the way it always used to be …
FROM A LETTER TO MOTHER IN THE MIDWEST, JULY, 1988 The fishing has been good. We had more bluefish than we could eat until Bill’s boat broke down again. We thought for sure our fishing season was over. That was before last Friday night.
We were visiting with our neighbors the Kirkpatricks, all of us sitting under the starry sky on the new pier, which is low to the water. Suddenly we hear splashing and saw great waves of black water. The spot were coming in, six- and seven-inch spot, the kind to be panfried like you always did in Florida.
I called “nets!” Bill and Michael, the men in the families, scoffed, but I caught one on my first sweep. Soon Nat and Zack, the boys, were pulling in five each swipe. We filled a bucket.
Next day Nat and Bill filleted them: 50 delicious fish.
FROM STORIES TOLD ON A SUMMER EVENING, JULY 1994 It’s beautiful before dawn on Rockhold Creek, trotlining by the light of the moon, and the crabs are so big that when they stretch out their claws, they touch both sides of a bushel basket.
But they can’t compare to the crabs we caught chicken necking on the Eastern Shore last year with the chicken we’d planned for dinner.
The big trimaran sailboat was tied up between James Island and Taylor Island in the mouth of the Little Choptank River. We were just enjoying ourselves, not planning on crabbing when we thought we’ve got a 40-year-old guy with us and he’s never crabbed.
Out we got the chicken. [Here other voices join in, and the story continues polyphonically.] No sooner did we throw a line over than we’d pull in a crab, two and three at a time, and they were big ones. Right there without moving we caught trash cans and coolers full.
But, oh!, we had to throw them all back: We weren’t any better prepared for pots than for baskets. The big trimaran had such a little crabcooker that we’d have been up all night.
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The High Cost of Nature
by Amy Ellsworth
Where can a person go at night without having to fork over $2 for a cup of brown water with second-hand smoke? I’m fed up with stools and booths. I want a juniper-scented breeze and a view of the moon through the trees.
The Chinese art of environmental placement and balance, Feng Shui, holds that our destinies are interwoven with the universe. If so, our human spirit, or Ch’i, is directly proportional to our surroundings.
That’s the excuse my best friend and I have used for the past few years for our free nightly visits to Annapolis Overlook. We were recharging our Ch’i after laborious, mind-numbing hours at the TV. The overlook has always been the temporal midpoint between home and college for us. We etched our adolescence in the stone balcony.
Here the gods presented some celestial performance or other to us whenever we gave them an audience. Once under the glow of a lunar corona, my friend and I reflected on our newly acquired fax and phone bills as a metaphor for our initiation into adulthood. Another evening, lightning illuminated the rolling clouds, miles above the Annapolis skyline, like a production Elektra, as we agreed never to relinquish our youthful energy.
But last night, our Ch’i had to settle for the Tao of Dunkin’ Doughnuts because an army of drunken barhoppers seized control of the Overlook.
To regather our wits and bearings, we barreled down Forest Drive to Quiet Waters Park only to be stopped at the entrance booth for a $4 fee. I could stretch $4 into half a wardrobe! I tried to jam all my anger into my response: “Well, that’s just ... not fair. We’re turning around!"
A similar Downs Park experience rekindled my anger. This time I threw a few euphemistic profanities at the poor booth guy: “Darnitall to heck!” Next thing I knew, I was reaching out my car window to pummel the automated toll taker at Sandy Point that wanted the other half of my wardrobe.
My argument against these fees only slightly deflated when a Parks and Recreation spokesperson told me that fees at county parks go “to the county,” which in turn gives parks a budget for maintenance and security. Even so, I believe it is the fundamental right of every human being to have access to their God-given surroundings.
Maryland boasts 4,300 miles of Chesapeake shoreline, including its tributaries. In 1992, only eight percent of this property was public owned. So each of us four million Marylanders gets roughly five inches of Chesapeake beach.
This system of government-owned and regulated property touches me like a police state. I feel like a plebeian walking through an army camp surrounded by a militia of forest rangers, all waiting for me to come here without a permit and violate some parking law or code.
Give me nature in its raw, tangled state; don’t comb everything into neat rows. Our obsession with safety I call paranoia. Some parts of the world not only do without guard rails on even the steepest of mountains but even sell beer in vending machines.
Nature should not cost nor close at dusk. Unless we can spend more natural time balancing our emotional, physical, and environmental Ch’i, we run the risk of becoming citizens bound by petty laws.
Amy Ellsworth who grew up in Arnold, MD, summers in Spain and studies dramatic writing at New York University added her youthful, dramatic touch to New Bay Times as a June intern.
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