Volume 2 Issue 29 1994

Previously inaccessible archives from 1993-1997 now coming on-line, with more each week!
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Burton on the Bay | Earth Journal | Editorial | Letters to the Editor | Bay Reflections | Dock of the Bay

This Weeks Lead Story

Memories are Made of this: The US Sailboat Show | Death of a Legend: Tommy “Muskrat” Greene

Lead story

Memories Are Made Of This:
The United States Sailboat Show —

25 Years In Annapolis

by Elizabeth Eby

From around the world, sailboating fanatics, casual observers and tourists flock to the City Dock in early October for the fall United States Sailboat Show. This is nothing new to locals. Since 1970, Annapolis has hosted the annual event and seen over one million sailboats.

This year, when Annapolis celebrates the 25th anniversary of the show, what’s new is old. This year the question around town seems to be, what do you remember best out of 25 years?

Here are some of the memories along the way.

For the people who work in the boat show, the fondest memories are of sales. Eric Ammann, formerly of Gordon Douglas Boat Co., likes to tell this story:

“I was there early, by 8am to wipe the boat dry, when a fellow spoke to me through a fence. I thought he wanted to make conversation, perhaps bum a ticket. Once I had introduced myself, he told me he had admired the Scot for some years. He had, in fact, a check in his pocket, could he give it to me through the fence?

“What could I say. Here this man had a check for payment in full. I accepted it, thanked him, wrote him a receipt and offered

him a guest ticket. He declined, saying he had seen what he had come to see, that he hated crowds, and it looked like we would have a big one. He asked me to phone him when I had the boat built.”

The show has not always sailed so smoothly, so to speak. Participants have had to suffer the extremes: from blazing heat to ice and snow and even floods. Herbert Hild of City Island, New York, remembers sitting in one of the exhibitor's tents as flood waters raised one side. The water was so deep a disabled customer was only able to maneuver the show via a dinghy, pulled by his wife.

Jim Atkins’ extreme is watching four to five hundred boats attempt to leave the docks at the same time. Atkins, of Atkins Yacht Sales, has attended the show every year with his yellow Labrador Cindy — the only dog to have a pass to the show. He says, sitting atop the fleet reserve club, "is like watching the bumper cars on Coney Island."

One way or another, the United States Sailboat Show makes its impact.

Annapolis has certainly felt the impact. The first show was a "radical concept" according to Jeff Holland, public relations director of Annapolis Boat Shows Inc. Most shows at that time were held in convention centers of larger cities during winter months. The in-water Annapolis show was not expected to make a splash. Back then Annapolis was considered a quaint and quiet country town by the Bay — not the sailboating capital it has become. The show has brought in over five hundred million dollars in money spent by visitors alone and helped revive business in the downtown area. For Mayor Alfred Hopkins, "seeing all the masts means a lot of money is here."

For other Annapolitans, the show extends and intensifies the tourist season. There’s not a table to be had at any downtown restaurant while the Sailboat show’s in town.

But crowds have lessened in recent years. The show apexed in 1986 with over 500 boats. This year, organizers expect 100 to 200 boats. The maritime industry as a whole has reflected that decline. Still, Annapolis has fared better than other ports. Its show is now the longest running in-water sailboat show in the country. (A Newport, R.I. show was forced to combine its powerboat and sailboat show in order to endure the slower seasons).

There’s been a "symbiotic relationship" between the show and the city, Holland says. At one level, the show has developed Annapolis’ reputation for its sailing and boating industry. At another level, the United States Sailboat Show is Annapolis’ homecoming. That’s what George Phillips, owner of the Harbour House restaurant, means by calling it a "down-home type of thing." Every October, his summer staff return. Even the restaurant's ex-manager comes back to work the boat show.

What’s New

How is this year's show any different?

The answer depends on who's asking.

The avid sailor, Annapolis’ 25th United States Sailboat show boasts the largest number of multihulled boats ever assembled at any show in the world. Throughout the years these innovative boats have been the show’s mainstay. They were, in essence, a peek into the future of sailing.

What’s more, due to an upswing in U.S. economy, foreign boats will be attending once again in full force. Taiwan, Holland, Scandinavia, France and South Africa are to be represented.

For the uninitiated, there’ll be a chance to get aboard. For pure passengers, the 72- foot schooner Woodwind. offers affordable cruises through the Annapolis harbor. Would-be sailors can take advantage of Vanguard Racing Sailboats’ free sails with U.S. Sailing-certified instructors. Evening seminars will meet at the Annapolis Marriott Waterfront Hotel.

For buyers, there are 100 to 200 boats to dream and scheme over. For sellers, thousands of potential buyers. For people-watchers, this is the land of plenty.

That’s right, say organizers, who promise something for everybody.


to the top

Death of a Legend: Tommy “Muskrat” Greene

Deale’s world class oyster-eater and world record holder had a heart big as his appetite

by Bill Lambrecht

At Happy Harbor, the blue door would spring open and Muscrat’s gravelly voice would bring smiles to early morning coffee-drinkers stationed at the bar.

“I’m home, Mom,” Muskrat would say to Barbara Sturgell, owner of Deale’s landmark restaurant and bar. Sturgell was one of dozens of members of Muscrat’s extended family.

Now sadness has settled over Happy Harbor and along the waterfront. Tommy “Muskrat” Greene, 54, of Deale, one of the legends the Chesapeake Bay, died on Friday, September 30, 1994, after an aneurysm.

Greene’s eating accomplishments twice won him a coveted spot in the Guinness Book of World Records and brought international attention to Deale.

His passing will be marked by a party on Saturday, Oct. 8, at 4pm at Manifold’s Bay Harbor Marina along Rockhold Creek, where Muskrat lived. Mourners will bring covered dishes; a procession of boats will cruise out to the Bay for a ceremony.

Dozens of friends will be paying tribute to a gentle, humorous and sometimes misunderstood man who earned the honorific “Mayor of Deale” for his popularity and his amazing feats of eating.

While eating and drinking came to define him, Muskrat was also known for his expertise with boats, his masterful gardening and above all his loyalty and generosity to his many friends.

“He was the most unselfish person I’ve ever met. He was very, very caring and somebody who did not know how to lie,” said Kim Piaskowski, who, along with Bobby Franklin, provided Muskrat a home in his last years.

Deale Gets a Muskrat

It seemed like Muskrat must have been born on a boat or near a bar stool. But he grew up in Prince George’s County and came to the Bay with an uncle, Frank Swain, to crab.

One day, crabbers noticed his uncle’s boat making slow circles in the Bay. When they caught up with it, there was no one aboard. The news reached Muskrat at a bar.

“Muskrat, we thought you was dead,” a waterman said.

“I’m sittin’ here drinkin’, ain’t I”? Muskrat replied.

Four days later, his uncle’s body was pulled up along with a crabpot in12 feet of water; he’d apparently fallen overboard and struck his head.

Muskrat’s taste for crabbing was gone, but not his love for life (in) Deale. He became a trusted employee of the late Warren Hickman, who ran Tracy’s Creek Marina, situated on land that became Herrington Harbour North. It was here where Tommy Greene got his new name after being found sleeping in weeds along the creek.

Over the years he worked at other marinas and gave boat advice to countless people, none of whom forgot Muskrat.

He could fix anything of any size, do carpentry and electrical work. When he died, he was restoring a 25-foot Luhrs. “He used to baffle me with all he could do without knowing how to read,” said Jeff Hickman, who runs a boat repair shop in Deale and worked many years with Muskrat at his father’s marina.

Bobby Franklin, owner of the marina where Muskrat lived out his life, recalled him tearing down a huge backhoe and restoring it to working order. The Lena M, an old Bay-built, had lain sunken in the Bay for months. They dragged it out and Muskrat announced to skeptics that he would have it running in no time.

“A couple days later he turned the key, and if that son-of-a-gun didn’t start the first time, I’ll eat this building,” Franklin laughs.

Eileen Hvizda, better known as J.R. (for Just Right), a popular employee at Happy Harbor, used to get get hand-picked wildflowers from her friend Muskrat.

“He put Deale on the map,” she says.

World-Class Eater

Few of us will leave this earth able to assert that we were the best at what we did. Muskrat could make that claim even though, sadly, his distinctions had been officially stripped away.

He won his first oyster-eating competition in the parking lot at Happy Harbor in 1977. In 1979, he competed in a benefit against a 360-pound man named “Tiny,” who couldn’t come near the 251 oysters that Muskrat ate.

“They couldn’t shuck ‘em as fast as I could eat ‘em,” Muskrat recalled later. “I was takin’ smoke breaks in between.”

More contests sponsored by promotion-wise bar-owners followed. At Middleton’s in Annapolis, Muscrat ate 288 oysters in 1 minute and 20 seconds. At Dominique’s in Washington, he finished off 350 garlic-soaked snails.

Nobody could come close to Muskrat. At 5’9” and about 235 pounds in his prime with a hard, rectangular belly, Muskrat was an eating marvel. A typical lunch was four to eight sandwiches. In Deale at Billy Jac’s one day, he polished off eight barbecue sandwiches and ordered three to go. A snack might be a large pizza and two submarine sandwiches.

Not bad for somebody who weighted just over two pounds at birth. “I lived and the doctor died,” Muskrat would joke.

Immediately after breaking one of his records in a competition at Happy Harbor, he declared to Barbara Sturgell that he believed it was time for lunch. After pouring down 288 oysters from pint jars in less than two minuutes(checkk), Muskrat emptied a plate of two cheeseburgers covered by French fries, all of it drowned by gravy.

Was there anything he wouldn’t eat? In truth, he thought that snails tasted like rubber. And he confided once that he wouldn’t eat eels. “Had one in my freezer once, and when I checked on it, it had flipped over,” he remarked.

In 1985, in London, he shattered the world snail-eating standard, devouring 2.2 pounds of escargot — about 220 snails — in 2 minutes, 43.95 seconds. Peter Dowdeswell, a Brit who claimed to hold 244 world titles for eating everything from prunes to glassware, didn’t stand a chance against Muskrat Greene of Deale, Md.

When he returned from England, riding into town in a limousine, Muskrat was on top of the world. Feature-writers and photographers trekked to Deale. He was a big-eating, hard-drinking character with a capital C.

Few people knew that Muscrat also was a vulnerable figure, suffering from high blood pressure, a heart ailment and diabetes. He had a speaking impairment that made it difficult for some people to understand him.

Once, at a Department of Natural Resources Office, they asked Muskrat his address. “Bobby’s boat yard,” he said.

Outsiders occasionally mocked him, infuriating his fiercely protective friends. One evening at Happy Harbor, a mouthy young man and several of his boating friends from Virginia teased Muskrat, trying to force a conversation with him. “Speak up, mush-mouth, we don’t understand you,” the jerk said.

“ ---- you,” Muskrat replied. “You understood that, didn’t you?”

A few years ago, the Guinness Book decided to end its records for gluttony. Times were changing; better health, not excesses, had become vogue.

Muskrat didn’t let on that he was troubled by Guinness’s decision. But in truth, he was saddened by being stripped of his records, which brought pleasure to his friends and acclaim to his town.

“It upset him,” says Barbara Sturgell. “I think he took it personally.”

Added Gary Curtis, owner of Deale’s Flaming Pit: “Here’s a guy that didn’t have anything else in this world, and they took his titles away.”

Happy Days

Years ago, when Muscrat was living on his houseboat beneath the Rockhold Creek Bridge, he confided that his fondest hope was to one day live in a trailer. Nothing fancy, he said; just a little trailer or camper that he could call home.

His dream came true in 1992, when Bobby Franklin and Kim Piaskowsi invited him to move into a nifty, 16-foot Prowler trailer at their marina along Rockhold Creek.

Muskrat never married. “I’m married to boats,” he would say. Later, he liked to tell people that his crock pot was his wife. “I can unplug her anytime I want to,” he said.

Despite his disheveled look, Muskrat kept himself clean. And so were his many tools and his trailer, which included the VCR that Barbara Sturgell gave him for his 50th birthday. He was a skilled and meticulous gardener, with no less than three fine patches — one of them 40-by-40 feet — producing bountifully the day he died.

In gardens that grew bigger every year, he raised tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and much more for that crock pot of his. Now that he had a rototiller, people wondered if he’d plant all of Deale. Why did he grow so much? For his friends.

He’d been having severe headaches of late, but Monday night of last week, Muskrat pedaled his old bicycle with the balloon tires down to Bobby D’s restaurant to bestow fat tomatoes on Melody Petro and the staff.

His generosity was well-known — and sometimes peculiar. Friend Alfred Kanney, who Muskrat called “Crazy Al, “ recalled him picking an entire picking an bushel of crabs and turning them into a pile of crab cakes as big as flapjacks. Then he walked out of his trailer and fed them to Port, the Black Lab-Chesapeake Bay Retriever at his marina.

Muskrat started slowing down a few years ago after heart surgery. In recent months, feeling his health problems, he’d curtailed his eating even more. Most of the time he didn’t drink, and they’d quit serving him at Happy Harbor years ago.

His friends kept an eye on the stubborn Muskrat. At the urging of Kim Piaskowski, Melody Petro and Ken Ferguson (whom he called “Dad”), he’d been visiting doctors again. He was taking Percoset for the pain, but headaches persisted.

Last Wednesday morning, he showed up at Happy Harbor at 5:45am, earlier than usual. He couldn’t sleep, he told Barbara Sturgell.

At 11:30, Melody, the neighbor and pal who had taken Muskrat to the doctor two days before, found him lying outside his trailer, as if he’d fallen out the door. He was conscious, but partially paralyzed and gravely stricken. On Friday afternoon, after lapsing into a coma, Muskrat died peacefully at Anne Arundel General Hospital.

Along the Chesapeake Bay, the saloons and CBs are filled these days with tales about Tommy “Muskrat” Greene. Many, like Donna Whittington, recalled how he’d look after them — and their dogs. “When I was sick and couldn’t afford to feed my dog, Muskrat paid for his food — and fed him,” she recalls.

Back at the marina, Port — who Muskrat called Porky — still shows up to scratch at the door of Muskrat’s trailer and dream home, missing the old oyster-eater like the rest of Deale.

“We needed him and he needed us,” says Kim — who was “Kimbo” to Deale’s fallen friend and most famous citizen.

to the top

Dock of the Bay

Abandoned Boats: ‘Elephant Graveyards’ on the Bay

To some, they’re a sign of days gone by when stately wooden boats lived out their days and then wasted away. They’re an irritant to arriving yuppies.

To most people, though, abandoned boats are tacky; ugly heaps that spoil vistas, clog dock space and spread pollution.

However they’re viewed, derelict boats have become a more frequent sight around the Chesapeake Bay, probably because of the fluctuating economy. So Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources has begun a new program to drag them from rivers and creeks and haul them away.

“It’s a serious problem nationwide, and a serious enough problem in Maryland that this level of resources is necessary,” said Robert P. Gaudette, director of DNR’s waterway improvement program.

A three-member crew has started working full-time on the removal, initially in Talbot and Queen Anne’s counties where about 40 derelict boats wallow. The crew, supplemented by outside contractors, will move around all winter, shifting to Anne Arundel County by spring.

DNR hopes to rid Bay tributaries of what Gaudette calls “elephant graveyards.” He explained: “If someone sees a boat abandoned in a creek, they think that they can just abandon theirs, too. Most are wooden boats, which sink and stay there forever. Then you have debris and you have oil and gas leaking.”

When times were bad, people couldn’t afford to keep up old vessels so they just ditched them. Now, in a better economy, some folks are abandoning for a different reason — to buy new boats. Gaudette’s office gets eight times more calls about derelict boats than five years ago.

The bill to the state runs from $500 to $1,500, which often is hard to collect. “Owners change addresses and just seem to vanish,” Gaudette observed.

The new program invites people to have the DNR junk boats for them at a vastly reduced cost. To help the project take root, the state is inviting tips on abandoned boats.

Maryland has spent an average of $100,000 annually in recent years to deal with all the old boats. New spending will be worth it, Gaudette says, because improvement is noticeable swiftly when one of the rotting old hulks vanishes.

“It’s something people can see immediately as a Bay clean-up,” he said.

(To report an abandoned boat or to learn how to junk yours, call the waterway improvement program at 410/228-8605.)

Can Annapolis Learn From Long Island?

What do Boulder, Long Island and Newark have in common? Citizens working with government in all three cities have improved the quality of their lives by creating a plan and following through with it.

For citizens in Annapolis, where growth over the last 10 to 20 years has gone wild, Boulder, Long Island, Newark may offer some solutions, according to information presented at the first Annapolis Summit, a conference at the Calvert House last weekend by the Alliance for Sustainable Communities.

Here are some tips:

• Boulder city government has set aside thousands of acres for a permanent greenbelt. Tourists park their cars at the city limits to enjoy its pedestrian downtown.

• In Newark, a two percent increase in the real estate tax supports affordable housing for families and seniors, shopping and day care.

• A trail park on Long Island propels visitors forward with a surprise around every turn.

These towns and many others across the United States can teach us how to keep our open space open, how to reclaim our Bay, how to preserve our “sacred places,” how to aid our small businesses, and what changes best accommodate growth, those who attended the summit learned.

Successful programs start with “shared vision, strategies, policies and procedures, organization, leadership, outreach and a full array of different perspectives,” according to Mary Means, whose consulting firm lends advice to town planners.

Different perspectives abound in Annapolis, Ald. Dean Johnson of Annapolis observed: “Annapolis is a community of neighborhoods. It is characters, young and old, sailors and land-lovers, families and single persons. Every one of them has dreams. Some of those dreams they want to see accomplished this year. Others they hope their children will accomplish. It is our job to help them make their dreams come true.”

Over the next 20 years, 1.25 million people will settle in Maryland. So now — before it’s too late — is the time to make Annapolis as good a place to live as it is to visit.

What are signs of problems? Cars that barely fit through streets and parking shortages. Run-off into waterways. More business space than businesses. Does any of this sound familiar?

These were among the problems that Anne Pearson and planners of the successful Annapolis Summit will be looking to help solve in the coming months and years.

“We need to work together,” observed Ron Young, of the Maryland Department of Planning. “Good plans will take you further than you think.”

—Liz Zylwitis

In South County, Peace and Pork

It’s just as Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple said. Look to small places to understand big trends.

Two very small places down in southern Anne Arundel County have been text-book examples of problems afflicting many Bay communities. Now we’re glad to have examples of promising resolutions from Rose Haven and Holland Point.

What to do with their sewage was the biggest problem for the two neighboring communities. Holland Point, a long, narrow double row of houses stretching along the south shore of Herring Bay, has no sewer and depends on septic systems. The community lies so close to sea level that its tempting expanse of green lawns have long been regularly wet with waste water.

Rose Haven, tucked behind the Herrington Harbour marina complex at Herring Bay’s bend, depended on the marina for waste water treatment. There’d been problems in the past, and residents expected them to worsen.

For years the problems here — as in so many small Bay communities that just grew up like Topsy in the days when people didn’t worry about anything they threw away — remained untractable. Now, a strategy — developed over last year with guidance from a New York institute with a record of helping small communities help themselves — has cut through the many tangles of this small-town Gordian knot.

U.S. Rep Steny Hoyer and Sen. Barbara Mikulski made the official announcement to the two celebrating communities October 1. The towns will get $6 million in federal funds for water and sewer. A group of residents are working through the Small Town Environment Program to determine the best way to spend the money and reduce the cost, which at one time was estimated at $12 million. About $300,000 more is being held by the county for the project, which lately has been estimated at $9 million.

We think the Miss Marple moral on that one advises perseverance until election years when the party in power holds its seat uneasily.

The next day, Sunday October 2, another knot was untangled.

Every village, Miss Marple’s regular readers are well aware, has its local land power. Steuart Chaney, owner of the Herrington Harbour complex and much of the undeveloped land nearby, fills that bill.

Residents boiled over when they learned of his plans to build houses on a rare, bare elbow of Bayfront land in the critical area. Some of the 700-foot parcel is wetlands.

“Very few times on roads in southern Anne Arundel County do you get a chance to travel parallel to Bay with an unobstructed view,“ said Sheila Stout of Rose Haven. This is such a place. What’s more, it’s a place people in both communities think of as their own.

Irritated — and well organized — by their long drawn-out waste water campaign — locals fought back. Ire rose and feelings suffered on both sides as the dispute escalated.

“We’re being asked to forgive critical areas law to benefit a developer,” said Stout.

Chaney protests: “I’m suffering from small-town syndrome. I was unjustly represented and greatly misrepresented. We’ve been on the leading edge and even ahead of agencies in enforcing environmental standards.”

Many sighs of relief were breathed on Sunday, when Chaney announced his intention to sell the property to the Trust for Public Land, who intend to make it a park.

The moral is, Miss Marple might say: Land trusts are good for everybody in this day and age.

Sailor-Authors to Dock in Annapolis

Elizabeth M., a 38-foot motor sailor with an engine “twice as powerful as it looks” has gone the distance for author-adventurers Paul and Emily Keller of Portland, Oregon.

Paul Keller, 64, wrote his first book, Sailing the Golden Sea about the whirlwind honeymoon cruise around the world he gave his wife, Emily, in 1992. Now the couple has set sail with his pen again. The result: Sailing the Inland Seas, a new book by Paul illustrated by Emily.

The Kellers, who have sailed the Chesapeake for many years, will be appearing in Annapolis this week to sign books and talk about their adventures. Their schedule:

• Oct. 6 — 7:30-8:30pm at Barnes & Noble at Annapolis Harbour Place

• Oct. 8 — 8:30-10am at Fawcett Boat Supplies — 110 Compromise St. on the City Dock; 2-4pm at Waldenbooks in the Annapolis Mall.

• Oct. 9 — 1-3pm, again at Fawcett’s

The Kellers began their two-year voyage into the inland waters in Fort Lauderdale, cruised up the Intercoastal Waterway into the Chesapeake Bay and on to the Hudson river in New York.

They sailed up the Erie Canal and over to Chicago via the Great Lakes, where they entered the rivers — Chicago, Illinois, Mississippi and Tennessee and headed back down to the Gulf for the last leg of their circular journey.

Keller has fond memories of his time along the Chesapeake. The Kellers docked in St. Mary’s City but spent more time in Annapolis than any other stop. He remembers the crab pots and the Naval Academy commencement with its fly-over by The Blue Angels best.

“There are so many places you can go and places where you can just anchor quietly,” said Keller. “The Chesapeake is very different than my home in the Pacific Northwest. You’re more apt to see a whale than you are a crab out there.”

—Liz Zylwitis

Better Than a Better Mousetrap

They’ve grown a better tomato. Better corn and beans, too.

What’s better about the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s veggies and field crops is that they’re grown without pesticides. USDA’s Beltsville, Md. farm didn’t need commercial fertilizer, either, to get luscious vegetables and hearty corn and beans in astonishing abundance, a new report shows.

They shouldn’t have been able to do it, conventional wisdom said. Corn worms should have eaten tunnels through the ears. Bean beetles should have feasted. Tomatoes ought to have succumbed to blight.

Instead, chemical-free vegetable crops made conventionally grown crops look like this season’s Washington Redskins, according to the end-of-the-season tally.

Take tomatoes. For four years, researcher Aref Abdul-Baki has studied growth and yield in tomatoes planted three ways. Tomatoes planted in conventionally bare fields yielded 22 tons per acre. A second conventional mass farming method, covering tomato rows with black plastic, yielded 32 tons.

But sustainable tomatoes — planted in a field with no chemical fertilizer or pesticide but where hairy vetch was grown and cut to bed the tomatoes in “green mulch” — beat the rest with an astonishing 41 tons per acre.

Sustainably grown field crops such as corn and soybeans are expected to show equally high yields when they’re harvested later this month.

From tomatoes to eggplants, cantaloupe to sweet corn, peppers to green beans, USDA’s whole sustainable market basket would sweep away the competition at the State Fair. These are plump, sweet, baby-skinned vegetables, good to look at and good to eat.

Which means more people will be eating them. A new poll for Rodale Press in Pennsylvania, where sustainable and organic growing has been pioneered, shows that one in three shoppers now seeks out organically grown produce. More say they would follow if organic produce cost less and looked better.

Nowadays, chemical-free veggies look like they’re good for you. Traditionally, their biggest selling point has been health. In the Rodale poll, 59 percent of organic buyers say they’ve switched because of health concerns. Chemical fertilizers infiltrate the Bay and every other body of water with deadly effect. Pesticides, scientists are slowly acknowledging, are poisons to people who handle and eat them as well as to bugs.

Personal and environmental health is a big reason for USDA is going sustainable — by which they mean reducing chemicals as far as possible without sacrificing yield.

“USDA is looking at low-chemical farming and gardening in response to the growing public concern over pesticide residues in foods and the environmental impact of fertilizers and pesticides,” says Don Bills, chairman of the sustainable agriculture committee at Beltsville.

Sustainable agriculture not only builds health but also saves money. USDA’s research shows that sustainable tomato growers, for example, can increase their profits by more than $3,000 an acre. Their profit comes from money they don’t spend on fertilizers and pesticides.

That means we can enjoy economy, health and beauty. Which sounds like having your cake and eating it too.

Big Bucks for Chesapeake Rivers

The green tide has turned. Environmental issues are now a turn-off, we were told by Times Mirror’s big, trusted poll last month.

Nobody apparently told The Nature Conservancy. The Maryland branch of that international organization announced this week that they’re well on their way to raising $10 million in their nicely titled Campaign for the Chesapeake Rivers.

“We’ve bucked the tide,” said the Conservancy’s national president, John Sawhill. Contributions are climbing as national membership has risen to 800,000 and Maryland membership to 27,000. “People like what we do. They like it that we’re non-confrontational and science driven,” he explained.

Very well on their way: above $6.5 million and rising so fast they can’t keep track, according to Wayne Klockner, state director for The Nature Conservancy of Maryland.

Of that hefty sum, $2.6 million is garnered from such state and federal programs to preserve environment and species. Much of the rest comes from big donors — philanthropists, foundations and corporations. John Smale, chairman of the board of General Motors and a director of Procter & Gamble, also sits on The Nature Conservancy’s board of directors. General Motors has committed $5 million in cash and cars over five years to the national conservancy, Smale said. With friends like that, who couldn’t raise millions?

We hope a big Suburban-full of that money makes its way to Maryland. A name like Campaign for the Chesapeake Rivers ought to be worth big bucks.

More than a pretty name is promised. It’s aimed at “the last of the least and the best of the rest,” Klockner says. Specifically, the Conservancy plans to protect four entire watersheds “while they’re still pristine.” “The last of the least” are the endangered species — many of them apparently insignificant — hanging on in those watersheds.

The biggest of the four is the Nanticoke River watershed. It encompasses 370,000 acres on the Eastern Shore rich with rare species — 120 achieve that status — and home to the Northeast’s largest nesting population of bald eagles.

Also on the Eastern Shore is Nassawango Creek, one of Maryland’s cleanest rivers. It boasts a 15-mile corridor of century-old bald cypress and 15 types of orchids.

On the Western Shore is Nanjemoy Creek, off the Potomac River, with its vast heron rookery.

Farther afield is Sideling Hill Creek, in western Maryland, one of the few pristine streams left in Appalachia.

What’s big about this project besides its bankroll is its thinking.

“For years, we’ve gotten by without our neighbors, buying a piece of land with something special here, another piece there,” explains fieldworker Linda Kramme.

That’s how the Nanjemoy heron rookery and the Nassawango cypress swamp came under Conservancy protection. Then the Conservancy found they hadn’t done enough. Some of the state’s greatest biodiversity existed in those areas. Nanjemoy was also one of just 10 places in the world where dwarf wedge mussels still lived. Such rarities weren’t likely to long resist the tides of change.

“The only way to protect thousands of acres is by knowing our neighbors and working with them,” Kramme says.

With neighbors and rich friends, many a tide might be turned.

A New Meaning For The Word ‘Airlines’

My knowledge of physics and all things technological rivals that of a turnip, so I'm always amazed when I look out an airplane window and find that the wings aren't flapping. Yes, I've read the scientific explanations, but I still think the only thing keeping the plane in the air is that I hold my breath the entire way. So don't expect me to say anything to you if you sit next to me on a flight — we'll fall out of the sky if I do.

One thing I do know, though, is that the air inside the plane is as important as that outside. I only mention this obvious point because those wacky practical jokers who run America's airlines have been funning with us again. In the happy-go-lucky deregulation days of Reagan-Bush, these pranksters quietly cut the amount of fresh air in the passenger cabins from 100 percent fresh outside air to half-fresh/half-recirculated air. "Recirculated" air, for those not familiar with airline jargon, means "already used" air, including sneezed into and belched-up. The technical term is "icky air."

Flight attendants and we frequent fliers are complaining that "icky air" causes headaches, nausea and other health problems, especially on long flights of more than, say, nine minutes. Airline execs say it's just our imagination— as they hop aboard Amtrack.

Well, "icky air" is better than being sprayed with insecticide, I guess. I am not making this up. Several foreign governments require that all airlines arriving in their countries must 1) turn off the plane's ventilation system 30 minutes before arriving, then 2) have flight attendants walk down the aisle spraying "aerosol d-phenothrin" in the cabin to kill pests — like us passengers, I guess. This is the very same spray sold here as Black Knight Roach Killer, which warns on its label: "Avoid breathing vapors."

Airline executives say they don't like spraying us, but they can't make the foreign countries mad, and — as one put it — the spray has been "approved by the EPA."

Great, I'll put that on my tombstone.

—Jim Hightower, for AlterNet wire service

Way Downstream...

A notice last week in New Brunswick, Canada is a reminder of how good we have it in the Chesapeake Bay. Health officials told people that they should no longer eat fish longer than 29 centimeters (under 12 inches) from any of the lakes and rivers. Why? A serious problem from mercury, which damages the nervous system, has been found ...

This may be far too important to bury so deep in the paper, but here goes: Ecological problems were a cause of the horrific strife in Rwanda and problems in other parts of the world. Now, it seems, India’s plague has an environmental cause.

Here’s what happened: hundreds of cattle were killed in a flood when a local dam was opened, and then people didn’t properly dispose of the carcasses, which drew the rats. When large tracts of forests are flooded by dams, plague-infested rats move to cities ...

In Germany, why are they letting researchers dump 100 gallons of crude oil into the ocean? To see if the radar that will be launched into space on the shuttle Endeavor in April can track oil slicks from high above ...

Our Creature Feature this week is quite a tale from Florida, where David Van Buren has quite a tail in his home.

Van Buren, of Miami, has been fighting to protect his pet alligator, Gwendolyn, from the insults of neighbors and the nets of state regulators. And quite a reptile Gwendolyn is.

According to Van Buren, Gwendolyn plays with a toy football and — believe this or not — sleeps in his bed. Unsentimental authorities slapped Van Buren with a second-degree misdemeanor and have threatened to destroy Gwendolyn.

Gov. Lawton Chiles, who’s running for re-election, has offered to get involved. Van Buren is consoled, since Chiles was a Gator himself once at the University of Florida.

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Mickey: Don’t Go Too Far (Or Come Too Close)

Back when Disney’s America first proclaimed its interest in our region, we thought it a good idea. For development, we prefered dwarfs and Dumbo to giant concrete towers.

Then we read the environmental impact assessments … and slowly changed our minds. Never having visited one of Walt’s kingdoms in person, we still thought of Disney in movie terms. We hadn’t correctly calculated the behind-the-scenes cost.

These illusions had hopped off the screen into real life. They and their millions of annual visitors would drive cars. They’d flush toilets. They’d eat in restaurants and sleep in motels. Some would want apartments and houses. Shades of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

Whew! No matter how many dwarfs moved in, Haymarket wouldn’t be a little town anymore. The ripples from the giant boulder dropped into that little pond would have drowned many small boats … and rocked quite a few big ones — all the way to Chesapeake Bay.

So we’re glad for Haymarket’s deliverance from Disney.

Not glad enough to be singing “The Wicked Witch Is Dead!” mind you.

We still prefer dwarfs, Dumbo and Disney to lots of Grand Canyons of concrete. We think there’s a place for Mickey, too.

But we’d rather have it where highways are already abundant … where the infrastructure has been laid … where development is a certainty. We like the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s alternative: out Dulles Airport way, where all those beautiful roads are ready and waiting.

Out there, Governor Schaefer. Not in our backyard.

We’ve tried peacefully coexisting with mice before.

Once upon a time, a mouse moved into our pantry. We didn’t mind as long as it was modest. When it broke into every box of cereal and the rice, leaving little mouse messages behind, it had gone too far.

We called in the cat. She wasn’t interested. The dog was very interested but too big to do much good. In fact, he did a bit more harm.

Not in my pantry, we said, though the children rooted for the mouse.

With the kids away for the summer, we ended our mouse problem with a trap. But we told the children the mouse was thriving.

When the kids came home, the sound of scratching drew them to the pantry door. They opened it. Out popped the biggest mouse anybody who’d never been to Disneyland had ever seen.

Fast witted, the kids ran for their baseball bats. Wham! Take that! Boom boom boom went the tattoo they beat on generic Mickey’s papier mache head.

The fellow who’d dressed in the rented grey mouse suit and white gloves probably felt like Disney America last week.

We’ve had our share of mouse trouble. Good luck, Mickey in your search. But Governor Schaefer, keep this mouse out of our back yard

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Letters to the Editor

A Good Citizen

Dear New Bay Times:

This season, my boat has been used as a water garbage-collector. In a letter I wrote to Torrey C. Brown (Department of Natural Resources secretary), I enumerated my sum total catch on the day before in Herring Bay:

• One floating white-wall tire mounted on a steel rim;

• Six deflated Happy Birthday balloons;

• Nine aluminum cans;

• One Jim Beam whiskey bottle;

• A wood plank 6’X9”X3”;

• Two tree stumps and four branches.

I can’t stand seeing the Bay being trashed like this. Last weekend, I scooped up four polystyrene cups, two cans and a floating bushel basket. I’m doing my part; I wish others would do theirs.

Stay your course because New Bay Times is doing a great job of reporting facts and stories we all love to read.

— Joseph M. Kline Jr.

Capitol Heights, MD

Thanks To Her Backers

Dear New Bay Times:

I would personally like to thank my supporters, friends and family for encouraging me to run for the 7th District council seat. And most of all, I’d like to thank each and every person who cared enough to vote for me.

Even though I ran a good campaign, I lost in the primary (Sept. 13.) So many of my friends and supporters have come to me and said, ‘Pat, I voted for you; I’m sorry you didn’t make it. You would have been an excellent, honest and caring council person’.

It meant a lot. I, too, am sorry that I did not win. Unfortunately, not enough people go out to vote in a primary election.

Thanks also to all of my friends and neighbors who were so kind to let me put up yard signs on their property. It was appreciated.

Even though I lost the race, I’m still a “winner” because I have gained additional knowledge. And I still have my wonderful family, friends and neighbors, for which I am grateful.

My sincere thanks to all of you.

— Patricia J. O’Brien


Recycle It, Don’t Burn It

Dear New Bay Times:

I have been asked to write a letter to introduce a new Tri-County association called Clean Southern Maryland. This association will advocate a cleaner, safer community through education and waste reduction and environmentally sound waste handling. We will work to increase recycling and the use of recycled products., coordinate neighborhood clean-ups and provide education outreach programs.

Clean Southern Maryland will promote the three R’s: Reduce, Re-use and Recycle.

Clean Southern Maryland formed in response to a report by the Regional Solid Waste Management Task Force. In this report, waste incineration was recommended as a viable option of disposal.

We strongly disagree with incineration as an option. We believe increased emphasis should be placed on the 3 R’s as the primary strategy to solve Southern Maryland’s current and future waste problems.

We also believe that incinerators and so-called waste-to-energy facilities are fiscally and environmentally unwise. We are circulating a petition requesting that a ten-year moratorium be enacted by the county commissioners of Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties to ensure public resources are not used for study, planning, site selection or construction of an incinerator.

We have case histories of incinerators and the many problems riddling each one of them. Nearly half of them have air pollution violations, some of them as many as 6,000 in one year.

Incinerators pose an unacceptable risk. Please write us to get information.

We have information on how to get a recycling program on its feet in our community. Sorting your own trash and recycling what you use is only part of it. Before you by something, think: “Can this be recycled?” If not, are there alternatives to this product?

We need to encourage environmentally friendly businesses in our area that will close the recycling loop by taking our sorted materials and recycling them into new and useful products. Our address is: P.O. Box 1336, Mechanicsville, Md. 20659. A donation to cover the cost of copying would be appreciated. We also are looking for new members; we meet monthly.

— Allison Bigelow

Mechanicsville, Md.

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In Harmony With The Cosmos

by Sonia Linebaugh

Lingering over coffee at the morning table, I browse through the stack of readings I mean to get to. Book reviews, political commentaries and analyses. Shiny catalogues. Poetry. From the I Ching — the Chinese book of changes — words stare out at me: The illusion of the ideal is a deception that is surely ... not harmony with the cosmos...

My attention shifts to the cosmos in front of me. Not a single cosmos, but eleven of them, spreading their tender petals out from the cobalt blue of their vase for my inspection.

Yellow-gold centers catch my attention first. One knubby center is edged with raised stamens, each tiny black stalk ending in a golden star burst of pollen. Another center springs up in a globe, every stamen spilling forth its precious gold. From this center, six red-violet arms radiate. I reflect the cosmos flower looks like a fragile cousin of the sturdy daisy.

My mind runs out into the garden where I picked these cosmos. No, I think, fragile is not the correct description. Rising up from seeds strewn carelessly out of “Wildflower Garden in a Can,” the cosmos threw themselves skyward in brief summer session to a loose bushy height of five feet. Whatever else was in the can didn’t stand a chance.

Ever attracted to the light, the south-planted cosmos lean daily with the sun, stretching their heads farther and farther south. At some point, I put up a restraining fence, a half-hearted effort to contain the natural tendencies of the cosmos to sprawl and spread across the garden path.

To no avail. Hundreds of red-violet, pink, and white blossoms laugh at me from their south-bent heads. Drawn irresistibly to the light, they fall over, under and around the make-shift fence, putting down roots and tossing up exuberant flowering heads above the lacy green of their foliage.

Back near the house wall where new shoots first showed, stems turn bare and brown as the seasons race on. Before long, cold nights and short days will snatch the cosmos back from its sun bath while this year’s seeds fall into next year’s soil. But now, out at the leading edge, blossoms still play and bees still wallow in the golden pollen.

I feel in harmony with these cosmos. Drawn irresistibly to light, sprawling and spreading past any attempt at pigeonholing, I root myself in the ideal. Surely, this is no deception.

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See Ya’ Around, Mickey

Who says you can't fight City Hall? You can, and you can win. It takes a lot of gumption; mix in liberal portions of organization, facts and figures to back up your contentions, some publicity to rouse the public — and, of course, a bit of luck.

Here's wishing a lifetime's supply of tasty rockfish filets for those who fought Mickey Mouse's invasion of Prince William County in northern Virginia, and, after many months won the big one for Chesapeake Bay. They deserve it.

Both supporters and protesters were astonished by how suddenly Disney folded up its tent; it almost makes one suspicious. The mouse that once roared gave in with an anemic squeak.

With Virginia governments, developers, and our lame duck guv William Donald Schaefer shedding enough tears to create another tributary to the Chesapeake, I suggest the coalition of guardians of the environment, preservationists, defenders of historical sites and those determined to sustain a country way of life not disband their armies.

They have won the battle; hopefully the war. But one can not help but speculate whether the Disney empire is focusing on another battlefield from which assorted pollutants will eventually flow into the Chesapeake via a fragile network of culverts, ditches, streams, runs, creeks and rivers, not to mention the air and its carrying capacity for still more contaminants.

The same week Mickey Mouse was banished, from Assateague Island came another shocker, also associated with development. At Assateague Island, we have the proverbial tiger by the tail, which we will explore a bit farther one. First, the Disney retreat.

Goofy & Co. Stonewalled

Appropriately, development ran into a stone wall just six miles from the site of the Battles of Bull Run (Manassas), during the first of which Lieut. General Thomas Jonathan Jackson earned the name we all remember him by today. Stonewall Jackson.

The magnitude of the proposed development was breathtaking. The $625 million park would have occupied 3,000 acres near Haymarket, 35 miles from Washington and the Potomac River. Some 2,281 homes were included in the master plan, 1,340 hotel rooms, and 1.96 million square feet of retail and commercial space. Whew.

Think of that; think of the tentacles of development, and traffic and other human use and consumption associated with it. Would the congestion, the sprawl and the impact on the environment have been worth the promises of jobs and celebrity? If you know the answer, it's not a question.

Curiously, though the environment would have suffered the most had Walt Disney Co. proceeded with its plans, much of the battle was fought on a preservation theme. It almost seemed the media downplayed ecological concerns.

Today, preservation is a more sexy attention getter — and, let's face it, the campaign to spare the battlefields brought into the fray numerous prominent and respected historians whose efforts certainly helped turn the tide.

But let us not forget implications of the Mickey Mouse plan. To better appreciate the consequences of what might have been, remember that from the area involved, everything flows towards the Chesapeake. The air above the Disney site, and the roads leading to and from it gobble up auto emissions which later fall onto tributaries of the Bay, or onto land to be flushed by rain towards the Chesapeake.

The "rainfall" of pollutants also can create a thin, topwater skim that kills larvae and small fish.

Parking lots of shopping centers, commercial enterprises and associated development — residential driveways, sidewalks, access roads and pavement — would have meant a loss of trees that buffer waterways by trapping silt and other sediments. And those tree roots stabilize shorelines.

Wherever it is, pavement means runoff, carrying with it petroleum residues from motor vehicles, salt from snow and ice clearing efforts, and numerous other substances that have an adverse affect on the waterways and their marine life.

Housing, whether in developments or singularly, cuts into woodlands while also increasing stress on waters that lead to the Chesapeake. Expanded municipal sewer systems mean more wastes that have to go somewhere.

Septic systems are not an answer. One recent study indicates that a family of four hooked up to a septic system contribute as much nitrogen to ground and surface water as an acre of corn. Units hooked up to sewer systems carry nitrogen, phosphorus, ammonia and more unwanted agents.

So much for what could have been; now what might be.

Disney at Dulles?

Why not a more compact version of the proposed Disney America theme park? Let's say one closer to the urban center of the Washington metro region and existing transportation services, housing, and less likely to end up polluting Chesapeake Bay?

A theme park of reasonable size and the welfare of the Chesapeake are not mutually exclusive. We can have both.

But the Haymarket endeavor would have opened new ground — literally. Opened a can of worms, too, starting one of the biggest urbanization projects in the East. What a magnet for even further development the park would have been.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation, which promptly applauded Disney's abandonment of Prince William County, had a reasonable approach several weeks ago when it suggested a 400-acre site in Fairfax County just east of Dulles Airport and south of the Dulles Access Road.

Four hundred acres in an area already under development is much more palatable than 3,000 acres in quiet countryside amidst the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Foundation’s proposed site is minutes from the Dulles terminal and the planned annex of the Smithsonian Institution's Air and Space Museum, which alone could draw up to seven million visitors a year.

Opponents of the original theme park had suggested 32 alternative sites; the Foundation studied the Dulles option, then concluded it "could serve both the region and Disney well."

Foundation lands program director Lee Epstein said: “If Disney is serious about being in the theme park business, rather than the land development business, it seems the Fairfax site could meet its needs.”

A Foundation analysis concluded that county plans and services could support the park at the Fairfax site. Already planned for the area is a mix of office, commercial and residential development — and the county's comprehensive plan calls for two transit stations on or near the site.

In addition, studies are underway for future rail transit there, and water and sewer capacities can accommodate the park without causing too many problems for stream systems that flow towards the Potomac, and eventually the Chesapeake.

Hopefully, Disney is listening.

Mickey and Maryland Won’t Mix

A worrisome aspect of the decision against Prince William County was the quick interest of Gov. William Donald Schaefer in luring the theme park to Maryland.

This poses the simple question of where? Where near Baltimore and Washington could we put it without further complicating the woes of the Chesapeake? While the governor has talked loudly and often about Bay restoration, he has talked louder and more often about bringing business to Maryland. Big business.

After witnessing his efforts to overwhelm quiet and scenic Rocky Gap State Park with construction of a professional golf complex, one might wonder whether he would invite Disney to the very shores of the Chesapeake if necessary to land the theme park.

He has this penchant for having things named after him, which prompted WCBM Radio talk show hosts Sean Casey and Frank Luber to suggest he bring Disney here - and maybe call it "Willie's World."

Hey, don't encourage the guy.

By coincidence, while tweaking the governor, the show went off the air for 12 minutes. King Crab can't be blamed. It was a power outage.

I was tempted to suggest that perhaps the park should be plunked in the back yard of the governor's home in a development near Pasadena in Anne Arundel County. Then I remembered that it is less than a couple miles from my spread on Stoney Creek.

We will be hearing more about Disney; corporate giants don't give up easily. But thankfully, it appears that neither do those who want to keep development within reason. Both sides learned a lesson, and this time those who hold the environment above economic considerations built a better mouse trap.

Meanwhile, At the Sea ...

On the long sandy spit that comprises a barrier for the mainland above and below the Maryland-Virginia line, the Atlantic Ocean poses a threat that will probably require a very expensive cure. Some want nature to do its thing; others are concerned with protecting development.

The site of the problem is the northern end of Assateague Island, which stretches from south of the Ocean City inlet to Chincoteague, Va.

Thirty years ago, Assateague was being developed; homesites were staked out, roads were being constructed and a few house already built when, after a long battle, environmentalists won. Federal and state interests took over the island, created parks and a refuge, and erased all signs of the development that was to be.

However, 30 years before that an August storm created an inlet at Ocean City, which previously was connected to Assateague — one big spit from Dewey Beach, Del. to Chincoteague. Prior to that, those at Ocean City launched their boats in the surf.

Once Mother Nature provided an inlet that granted a protected harbor, no one wanted to give the sea a chance to close the gateway to the Atlantic. To accommodate commercial fishing boats and a budding offshore marlin fishery, two jetties were built.

Both commercial and recreational fisheries have since flourished, but at the expense of Assateague Island. The jetties have disrupted the ocean's current, and much of the northern tip of Assateague is being washed away.

The island, home of the Chincoteague/Assateague wild ponies as well as countless deer, waterfowl and shorebirds, is now less than 1,000 feet wide in some sectors prompting fears that another great storm will wash through another inlet. A second inlet could raise havoc with its man-improved counterpart at Ocean City.

In addition, scrub brush and sand dunes on the island disappear as the Atlantic slims the barrier island between the ocean surf and Synepuxent Bay. And homes on the bay's western shore — the mainland — become increasingly vulnerable to northeasters.

The ideal solution is obvious. Dismantle the Ocean City jetties, but that's not practical. Without them, the inlet would eventually disappear - and fleets would become landlocked. The decision now is whether to gamble on when and if nature takes its course and creates another inlet, or to start pumping sand to replenish the beach.

There are indications that the ocean itself is washing up an offshore sand bar that some say could help protect the beach. But on that, the jury is still out. A $600,000 study is urged; a $60 million one-time restoration effort is among proposed solutions — and even with that it's estimated annual maintenance would be $5 million.

Meanwhile, the Atlantic continues to erode the beach; those who reside at Snug Harbor and other like developments on the mainland worry as they look across Sinepuxent Bay and an increasingly flattened and barren Assateague Island to see the threatening waves of the ocean.

The big storm that could flood or even wash away their homes could come this year, next year, or maybe not for several decades. But they, like everyone else, know eventually the mighty Atlantic will have its way. The big question is whether or not delaying tactics are worthwhile. I'm pleased the decision is not mine.

Enough said …

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Earth Journal

Huffing and Puffing

Autumn’s blowing in.

On the track of October comes cold new air. Sometimes it comes with a vengeance.

Last Saturday evening on the Bay, we had a ringside seat for the clash. Charcoal clouds in the north danced toward us. A warm wind blew from the south, checking the northern front.

Still the dark clouds marched toward us slowly, inexorably, like grim-faced handlers leading their boxer into the ring. They scowled and menaced and rolled. We worried only about the boxer behind them, punching already and sweating for the bout.

Just as we reached the dock the black clouds passed over, strangling the last shards of light in the sky. Then the fighter showed his fury. His mean eyes danced and when he howled that south wind hightailed backwards across the water.

Trees bent in his wake, lightning shot from his eyes and he shook cold sweat on earth and us.

Metaphors are all very good, but what is wind, really?

Think of a hill over a valley, Calvin Meadows of the National Weather Service at Dulles Airport, advised.

If you pour water from the top of the hill into the valley, the flow is greatest over steep inclines and short distances.

Wind is the result of differences in air pressure. The hill is high pressure; the valley is low pressure. Wind pours like water from the high-pressure hill to the low-pressure valley.

Pressure contrasts are greatest in windy spring and fall, blowing in the season and out the old.

Thunderstorms bring another kind of wind.

When a cloud reaches its mature stage, it collapses, drawing air in and pumping it out in downrushes that bring the storm to earth.

Pumps, hills and valleys? Sounds like even scientists think in metaphors.

When I hear the wild winds of autumn rushing way up high in the sky, there’s not a doubt in my mind that old Aeolus is behind it all. Awakened from a long summer’s nap, he’s puff his cheeks, driving the clouds before his breath like a bellows drives soot on the hearth.

Naturally, I run outside to meet the wind and moments later, Aeolus’ breath is twisting my skirts and tangling my hair. Leftover on the line from the weekend, the laundry is flapping, about to fly free. Way up there, leaves are lifted free from branches and limbs to rush underfoot and up legs like a scamper of mice.

Days when the wind blows from all directions, Aeolus’ children — the North, South, East and West winds — are out playing.

All this huffing and puffing makes me wish for windmills and generators, especially when it’s time to pay my electric bill.

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