Dock of the Bay

Volume VII Number 45
November 11-17, 1999

Support Mother Nature: Buy Bed and Breakfast for a Beastturtle

A jumbo albino snapping turtle, snow white except for two electric red eyes and a light fuzz of algae on its shell, bonked the plate glass of its aquarium yet again, then paddled off in disgust - only to do it all over again two seconds later.

"That boy needs a bigger tank," offered an elderly gentleman among a semicircle of rapt onlookers.

Linda Fadely has already heard this suggestion. "Turtles grow to the size of their enclosures," she explained. "We get him a bigger tank he'll just get bigger himself and do the same thing."

As development director for the Battle Creek Nature Center, home of the ricocheting white snapper, Fadely knows well how little the center can afford a swimming pool for a giant amphibian. Or much else. That's why Fadely, together with Battle Creek staff and some heavy-duty friends, are throwing their Third Annual Wild Auction. You can't buy a pool for the turtle, or the turtle itself, but your winning bid covers its care and feeding for a whole year. You can get yourself photographed with your pale beneficiary, and its tank (not a bigger one) will bear your name on a small plaque.

Or sponsor another Battle Creek buddy: There's a blind barn owl, whose cage stands outdoors beside the center. Behind a curtain in the cellar hangs a brown bat. A host of snakes, frogs, salamanders and others can be your wards for the coming year.

Don't any of these critters have names? Fadely says firmly: No. "We avoid this totally," she says. "These are wild creatures. We don't want to encourage the public to think of them as pets."

Most of Battle Creek's residents are handicapped creatures who lucked into the center: the barn owl was blinded by impact with a hit-and-run driver. A savvy passerby rescued the beat-up bird.

"Owls lack peripheral sight, and when they chase prey across a road, they're so focused they won't see an oncoming car," Battle Creek naturalist Mitzi Poole explains. "Pow. They do it all the time."

The snapper was found as a baby one-incher by a neighborhood child. "Albinos don't live long in the wild," Fadely says. "Their lack of camouflage and normal resistance makes them vulnerable. But snapping turtles have been found with Civil War bullets and arrowheads in their shells. They can live 150 years. We'll have to bequeath this turtle to someone."

You need not sponsor the living. You may put your name to a replacement plank for the boardwalk threading Battle Creek's majestic Bald Cypress swamp, to one of the outbuildings or even nearby O'Donnell's pond, if grandeur is what you seek.

Want to take something home? No fake antiques or lemon cars here. Local artisans and merchants have donated quality merchandise with a nature theme: carved figures, jewelry, paintings, and even a kayak trip.

So you're broke. Come anyway, says Fadely. "It's just a fun event to get people to come out and get to know us," she says. Poole agrees: "It can be a real spectator sport. It gets very spirited. [Auctioneer] Rodney Thompson is a one-man show. Even if you don't want to bid, last year people were falling out of their chairs laughing," she says.

Happy Harbor serves free hors d'oeuvres and drink to all comers.

Battle Creek Cypress Swamp crowns Calvert County's mighty triumvirate of sanctuaries, which include King's Landing, a former YMCA camp with cabins still standing ("We're trying to get people to adopt them," Fadely says) and Flag Ponds, jewel of Calvert Cliffs and the focus of this year's Wild Auction. Battle Creek hopes to build a new education center at Flag Ponds to welcome large school groups. At $600,000, it adds up to veteran fund-raiser Fadely's biggest challenge yet.

To get it off the ground, Fadely has turned to former senatorial candidate Bobby "Top Gun" Sturgell, who knows a thing or two about getting things off the ground. Last year in his crashed campaign against the Hon. Mike Miller, Sturgell launched a blimp emblazoned with his name over the North Beach Bayfest. Having long since reeled in his dirigible, Sturgell invited Miller to co-chair Wild Auction.

"By teaming up, Mike and I want to stress that protecting the environment and offering quality education for kids is more important than any political differences," Sturgell said.

Fadely is more succinct: "Bobby wanted to pull in Mike Miller to show it's a worthwhile cause," she said. "Mike was game." Miller will co-sponsor a bond bill to help fund the center.

Fadely started with Battle Creek in 1990 as volunteer coordinator. As former co-owner of the nature store Wild Birds in Prince Frederick and Dunkirk, she had the acumen to note the center needed money even more than volunteers. Fadely shifted to fundraising.

"I know from being a merchant myself that everyone who walks in your door is looking for something. So I never ask for a handout. For the small businesses who donate things to our auction, I hope to give them the recognition they deserve for carrying good products."

Cal and Cynthia Stewart of Atlantic Coast Title, last year's sponsors of the snapping turtle, are one of three corporate supporters of Wild Auction. "Where else but Battle Creek can you see cypress this far north?" says Cal Stewart. Dave Wayson of State Farm Insurance, along with Diane and Karen Shields of Twin Shields Golf Club, are the others who've made Wild Auction possible. "We couldn't have done this without them," says Fadely.

Or without you. Show up for a good time and a good cause Saturday, November 13 at 7pm. Find Battle Creek Cypress Swamp off Rt. 2/4 south of Prince Frederick. From Rt. 2/4, follow Sixes Road to the nature center.

-Christy Grimes

World-Champion Harmonizers Bring Gold to Chesapeake Country

"A song in your heart can lighten your load."

      -From Walt Disney's Snow White

Song has weighted down with gold the women's barbershop quartet Signature Sound.

The four Maryland women who perform as Signature Sound won the 2000 International Champion Quartet title at the 53rd annual Sweet Adelines International Competition and Convention this fall. They are Christine Cook, tenor, from Rockville; Janet Ashford, baritone, from Baltimore; Lloyd-Ellen Thomas, bass, from Glen Bernie; and Leslie Taylor, lead, from Edgewater.

"We are just so pleased to have won," says Taylor, who has been a Sweet Adelines for 20 years. "Each year in itself is great, but this just happened to be our best."

In the past seven years, Signature Sound has been rated in the nation's top 10 quartets. In 1998, they won the silver medal at the international competition. This year they struck gold in Atlanta.

Taylor's interest in the Sweet Adelines was sparked at a friend's mother's rehearsal years ago.

"The moment I heard them sing, I knew I wanted to be a part of it," says Taylor, who sang in middle school and then in high school." At 17, she joined the International group formed in 1945 by Edna Mae Anderson to bring together women with a passion for song and to form a respected source of education in the barbershop style.

"I remember my first contest," Taylor continues. "My voice was not strong, so I was placed in the first row. You could see my legs and my skirt shaking. It was such a thrill for me to move up to the fifth row, many years later, because my voice was finally strong enough."

Signature Sound has traveled from Hawaii to Miami to compete with other quartets. But success is not all glamour and travel. Practice really does make perfect. Taylor spends over seven hours a week rehearsing. Four more hours go to the quartet, and three to her local chorus. This does not include the time she devotes to performances and shows.

"We also have coaching sessions and are asked to do weddings, even funerals. We also perform at Sandy Point during the Maryland Seafood Festival, and during the holidays we sing in Washington at the Smithsonian for their tours."

Occasions like those help them pay for their travels to the International Competitions. "This year, being the International Champion Quartet will pay for the last nine years that we have competed," Taylor laughs.

-Lori L. Sikorski

Flight and Alight

In flight and alighted, Heaven has been sending messengers to Earth. That's one way to interpret the report made by skywatcher Bruce Bauer of Mason's Beach.

Again this year, Bauer has noted the timely arrival of trumpeter swans in Chesapeake Country. "Eighteen swans are paddling off Fairhaven Point," he reported on November 8.

The big, snow white birds have flown 2,000 to 3,000 miles before they put their paddle-shaped feet down on our waters. Their first thought must be food, since their flight will have cost as much as 90 percent of their body fat. Here they'll feed and swim for six months before returning to the tundra above the Arctic Circle to nest and breed a new generation.

Bauer had been looking for the swans. Less expected was the "startling" meteor that shot a brilliant swath of white light across the sky on the night of Nov. 7.

He was setting up a telescope to observe Saturn when he was surprised by "a big, blazing trail. It arced about 20 degrees above the horizon, covering 15 to 20 degrees" before disappearing in star dust. "From our position," said Bauer, "it was roughly over Tilghman Island."

Many meteors fall in August, and the Caribbean is especially fertile watching ground. Bauer has checked out both times and places, but, says he, "I've never seen anything like this. It was a huge event."

Saturn, pale by comparison, was still "very impressive." Bauer reports seeing the "center sphere and rings quite clearly" with a telescope adjustable from about 20 to 60 power. The rings took a "greater tilt" than he expected, riding at "about 2 to 8 o'clock."

For a menu of expected astrological events, read "Sky Watch" each week in NBT.


From Government House, Help in Caring for Every Child's Mental Healthpuppets

The bully pulpit is not the style of Frances Hughes Glendening. Maryland's first lady has cultivated a gentler approach, inviting her causes home. She's made Government House a showcase for the arts, filling it with revolving displays of the work of Maryland artists. Right now, you'll see works from the collection of Dr. and Mrs. William H. Marshall as well as the last of the year's three installments of contemporary Maryland artists.

For the arts and her other causes - women, families, mental health - Frances Glendening has hosted a full schedule of receptions, dinners and calling hours. But no one gets more attention at Government House than children. As we found again last week, when Glendening nudged her special campaign, Caring for Every Child's Mental Health, into its fifth year.

First, Glendening greeted her 150 guests one by one. Then she fed them on a buffet of rare beef tenderloin, Caesar salad (with slices of roasted chicken for those who don't eat red meat), mashed potatoes, sweets and, of course, vegetables. "Pile your plates high with vegetables," encouraged the sleek first lady, who is also an advocate for fitness and healthful eating.

Then she warmed her guests' hearts, promising a shorter speech than her absent husband would have made plus entertainment - which, she confided, we'd certainly not have gotten had the governor been in charge.

Finally, the first lady opened her heart to the full house of mental health professionals, volunteers and reporters. She praised the "baby steps" Maryland has made in broadening awareness and treatment of mental health problems in children, but she illustrated far more still to be done, especially for preschoolers, teens and incarcerated young people. About suicide, she spoke especially movingly, reminding us that both her father and brother - he only four days from his 18th birthday - had taken their own lives.

"Difficult as it is to seek help, it doesn't compare with the difficulties on the other side," she said, with the authority of one who knows first hand of enduring such a loss.

To open other doors, the dark-haired, fervent first lady - clad in black slacks and a coat of her signature red - advised helping children "learn to express their hopes and fears and believe they can achieve any goal they wish."

Poignant and rousing as her words were, they were upstaged by the promised entertainment.

"You're not the boss of me," insisted a little muppet-like boy to his friend Claire. Behind the talking, life-sized puppets, two black-clad and veiled adults, the puppeteers, blended into invisibility.

From a missed help session on math homework to neighborhood bullies to feelings of fear and guilt, the two banter like real-life kids caught in one of those everyday moments of truth so common in child life. Not only is he bullied, but he's feeling guilty for feeling glad when his friend rather than he was the bully's target. Claire, who's been there, helps her friend distinguish between "ratting" and "reporting."

Her solution, after she got help, was to write an article for her school paper. He'd like to be an avenging superhero, but she turns his thoughts away from violence. In the end, he thinks he'll put on a play, so the kids can work out their problems - just as these puppets are doing.

These stage-stealers are Kids on the Block, an educational puppet troupe developed in conjunction with the National Mental Health Association. Their plays help children better understand disability, differences and social concerns. They perform plays on such physical disabilities as cerebral palsy and epilepsy. Among their mental health themes are depression and attention deficit disorder.

In Maryland, we learned, five regional troupes perform a whole range of problem-solving plays free for gatherings of children in schools, libraries, fairs and clubs.

They work, says Southern Maryland coordinator Ginger Vanderpool, because "kids are so responsive to the puppets, even talking back to them."

See for yourself on November 17 at the South County branch of Anne Arundel County Library. At 9:30am, Kids on the Block perform "Feelings are Important" for two-year-olds. At 10:30am, they act out "What's the Problem?" for children ages three to six.

To learn more, reach Vanderpool at 301/261-5649 or the Mental Health Association of Maryland at 800/572-6426.


Student Shutterbugs Sought to Capture Maryland's Millennial Year

The countdown is on for Maryland students to capture a Kodak moment of life in our state in this century.

The photo and narrative contest calls on middle and high school students to submit black and white or color photographs of Maryland at work or play, in urban or rural communities.

"Students often have different opinions about the world and their communities," explains Louise Hayman, head of Maryland Commission for Celebration 2000.

Sponsored by Maryland 2000 and Maryland Public Television, the contest is held in conjunction with an MPT special, Images of Maryland 1900-2000, to air in March.

Entries should be sent with 150 to 300 word description of what makes each photo an "image of Maryland." A first, second, and third place winner will be chosen from each grade/age level for middle and high school or those of corresponding age for alternatively schooled students.

Deadline for entries is midnight December 11, 1999. Winning entries will be displayed at the Maryland State House in Annapolis in February. For contest rules and entry forms, call MPT at 800/223-3678 x 4034

-M.L. Faunce

Fall Fishing: Still BitingAlex & Bill Burton

Summer was long gone when we pulled away from Rod 'n' Reel docks at Chesapeake Beach one recent morning. On board Capt. Richie Roberts' Marcy Lynn, seven - including New Bay Times birthday bash auction winner Don Skinner, his guests Ray Seward and Harry Gritz, myself and Alex Knoll - were invited to fish with Bill Burton.

We felt the swift autumn breeze when we dropped our lines at the Diamonds at the mouth of the Choptank. The bites were plentiful, but anything over 17 inches seemed impossible early in the day. Just after 9am, Gritz reeled in the first, a 19-inch rockfish. After that and a move to the spot called Summer Gooses close to the Western Shore, rockfish and bluefish of all sizes latched onto our bait: chicken livers, razor clams, bloodworms and cut menhaden. Mate Skibo Eakle piled on all four at times.

One rod after another bent to tell us this was a productive spot.

Being a curious amateur fisherwoman, I wanted to know why catches are limited. Once upon a time, back in the '50s and '60s, I was told, guys like Bill Burton almost fished species to extinction, filling their boats with fish by day's end.

We didn't fill Marcy Lynn's deck, but we did catch several bluefish and our limit of rockfish, two per person, Knoll reeling in the biggest at nearly 28 inches. Everyone on board caught a couple of keepers by mid-afternoon.

It was a surprise so many would be swimming around on such a brisk day, but fishing that fall day was good.

Rockfish season continues in Maryland through November 30. For later fishing, check "Chesapeake Outdoors" by Chris Dollar each week in NBT.

-Darcey Dodd

Way Downstream ...

In California, Marin County, north of San Francisco, last week became the second U.S. county to ban jet skis from all of its waterways. A spokeswoman for Bluewater Network, an environmental group, called the decision "a tremendous victory for wildlife, air and water quality." Last year, San Juan County in Washington banned jet skis. A lawsuit aimed at blocking the new rule is expected ...

In West Virginia, the federal government will spend $2 million to figure out smart ways to recycle all those computers and printers we're discarding. The partnership between the Federal Energy Technology Center, West Virginia University and several businesses will seek to find uses for recycled glass, plastics, metals, circuit boards and computer chips ...

In New York, Home Depot stores - including the one in Parole - were rewarded for a green decision. In a full-page ad in the New York Times, the Rainforest Action Network proclaimed: "In a bold policy turnaround, the Home Depot says it will stop selling wood products from endangered forests by the year 2002" ...

In Washington, the death of Sen. John Chafee, R-R.I., is mourned by environmental advocates. Now, it looks like Sen. Robert Smith will replace Chafee as chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee as opposed to Sen. James Inhofe, who's considered antagonistic toward environmental protection. Comparing the two, Sierra Club political director Dan Weiss remarked: "It's apocalypse soon as opposed to apocalypse now" ...

In California, the National Park Service and the Nature Conservancy are teaming up for an "all-out assault" on wild pigs destroying the Channel Islands. They may bring in rifle squads and drop chemicals from the air, the Los Angeles Times reports ...

Our Creature Feature comes from India, where a herd of elephants is being accused of drunkenness in addition to murder. The Associated Press reported that 15 elephants descended on a village, broke into thatched huts and guzzled rice beer that was fermenting in casks.

The elephants then destroyed the village in what was described as a "drunken rampage." Four people died. The attack is one of several recently by elephants losing their forests to human encroachment.

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Volume VII Number 45
November 11-17, 1999
New Bay Times

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