Volume XI, Issue 52 ~ December 25-31, 2003

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Chesapeake Outdoors ~ by C. D. Dollar

Into river, Bay and woods, we follow C.D. Dollar in his Chesapeake Outdoors column.

Acts of Weather ~ Jan. 9: No. 2
Amidst predawn preparations for the first-light hunt, wind lashed the seas and sent waves smashing. At daybreak, fog rolled in, eerie wisps of white and gray engulfing the boat. Up was down; down was up. The shoreline, previously 25 feet away, vanished. Reflective images shimmered across the water, deceiving and mysterious. Is that the state-line marker? A bank trap? Or a blind? I’d entered a transient space fissure on earth.

Spring’s Quick Elixir ~ April 17: No. 16
I was sick of the mud in my yard and tired of the endless wind and ceaseless rains that forced me to cancel fishing trips on the Susquehanna Flats. I had been up to my eyeballs clearing brush from a neglected landscape. My fishing gear was as good as it was going to get and the boat was ready, or close enough … So I stored the tools, stopped tinkering with the boat and loaded the kayak into the pickup to indulge in a quick elixir fix of spring waters.

Mahogany Tides Signal Waters in Trouble ~ May 29: No. 22
Bluewater fishing has infected my bloodstream, a fact made more evident when I watched the coffee-colored river water of Crab Creek, leading into the South River, churn past the transom. Excess sediments certainly helped stain the water, and it was particularly bad in creeks where homes encroached unbuffered right to the water’s edge. These green-as-golf-course lawns are no doubt nitrogen enriched. Without native buffers at the shoreline, rainwater runoff rushes into the water unimpeded and adds to the Bay’s ills.

We’re at the End of the Food Chain ~ June 5: No. 23
When I fry up a white perch or rockfish fillet, I never think of any potential nasty chemicals embedded in its flesh. But a recent report from National Wildlife Federation, which tells of potentially high and widespread levels of mercury in rain that can end up in some fish that I eat, might make me think twice. Any reasonable person should wonder how on earth we created such a mess and how can we get out of it.

There’s Not a Better Place to Be ~ September 18: No. 38
Billowy clouds strewn with contrasting deep and faint hues of grays, wafted past the horizon. The air was welcoming, idyllic autumn rushing over my pores. And where were we fishing, you wonder? You know the place. Out in that wondrous Chesapeake, where the salt meets the fresh and fish run wild.

Woodpeckers and Other Birds of Winter ~ December. 11: No 50
Delicate footfalls crushing newly fallen snow nearly tumbled into a comically clumsy pratfall as I inched closer to get a good shot at my target. I was crawling on my stomach now, each slither forcing snow deep into exposed skin where folds of fabric should have been. Surprisingly, my quarry was oblivious, hammering away at maple limb, pausing only briefly to offer up a sharp peek.

The shutter snapped closed, reloaded and snapped again, then once more until the unnatural sound signaled danger to the bird. Off it went, into the snow-hazed morning, its brilliant red patch revealing its identity: a male hairy woodpecker.

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Last updated December 24, 2003 @ 11:47pm. Merry Christmas!!