Dock of the Bay
Volume VII Number 49
December 9-15, 1999
Your Millennial Tree: Make It a Good One
The last Christmas tree you decorate this century should be memorable. Here in Chesapeake Country, there are so many choices - live, cut, or cut-your-own; Fraser or Douglas fir, Canadian balsam, Norway or Fat Albert spruce, or maybe a scotch or Eastern white pine - that even Charlie Brown could find a great tree.
Don't wait too long to get your tree, though. The best ones go fast. Once you've found a tree you like, make sure it's fresh by cupping your hand and running it along the stem; most of the needles should remain on the tree. Another time-honored method is to thump the tree against the ground; if many needles fall, the tree is too dry. Once home, the tree should go in a bucket of water outdoors until decorating time.
Balsam, firs, and spruces have stiff branches that support heavy ornaments well. Pines are usually less expensive, but their branches are more flexible and may droop. Fraser firs have a reputation for holding onto their needles.
Live trees that prosper in our climate include Eastern white pine, Norway spruce, Colorado blue spruce and Fat Albert blue spruce. Dig the planting hole now, before the ground freezes. Keep your living tree in the house no longer than a week, and plant it promptly.
Where to choose a cut tree
You'll find cut trees at chain stores, garden centers and nurseries and dozens of lots. Benefit a good cause by buying your cut tree from:
South County Boy Scout Troop 741 Christmas Trees, Rt. 258 and Rockhold Creek Dr. 5-8:30pm M-F, 9am-8:30pm S; noon-8:30pm Su.
Mas-Que Farms Christmas Tree Plantation, near the intersection of Forest Drive and Spa Road, Annapolis. Sales benefit Maryland Therapeutic Riding, a non-profit dedicated to people with special needs. 9am to 5pm Sa, noon-5pm Su: 410/267-8900.
Cut your own trees at
Friendship Trees, 6950 Old Solomons Island Rd., between Friendship and Owings. Noon-4:30pm daily; weekends 9am-4:30pm. Firs, spruce, and pine trees plus roping and wreaths. You can also dig up a live tree to plant after Christmas: 410/741-5712.
Arts in the Attic, Batchelor's Choice Rd., Lothian, off Rt. 2 (follow signs). A hard-to-beat price (any size pine $10). On a recent visit, the owner was also giving out candy canes, and not just to the kids. Open evenings and weekends.
Brandy Farms, Brandy Farm Lane, Gambrills. Weekdays noon-4pm; weekends 9am-4pm.
Hilltop Farm, 3402 King Drive, Dunkirk. Weekdays noon-4:30; weekends 9am-4:30pm: 301/855-8431.
Porter Tree Farm, 316 Magothy Bridge Road, Pasadena. Sa 9am-5pm, Su noon-5pm: 410/437-2937.
The Pines Farm, Magruder's Ferry Rd., Brandywine: 301/579-2522. 8am-5pm daily. Not just pines; also Douglas and Fraser firs.
Tanner's Enchanted Forest, Baden Westwood Rd., Brandywine. 7am-5pm, weekends only: 301/579-2238.
Among many places to buy cut or living root-balled trees, we've scouted
Green Landing Nursery, 5810 Green Landing Rd., Upper Marlboro; 9am-5pm M-Sa, 10am-4pm Su. Open until 7pm ThF as Christmas approaches: 301/952-0593.
Homestead Gardens, Central Ave., Davidsonville: 410/798-5000.
Life: Kimbra Cutlip
Local Sailor Writes a Tale for Chesapeake Country
Writer, editor and sailor Kimbra Cutlip of Galesville - whose book Sailor's Night Before Christmas is featured in this week's "Not Just for Kids" - has combined her life's loves to write a holiday tale for Chesapeake Country.
As a child, Cutlip felt words course through her veins. "I've always wanted to write," Cutlip says. "One of my earliest childhood memories is waking up in the middle of the night to write a poem."
Her own daughter, Sienna, 2, gave Cutlip's words purpose.
Not that Cutlip didn't have plenty of by-lines to her credit. One of her college degrees is in magazine journalism, but stints in the Peace Corps and fascination with underwater archaeology distracted Cutlip until 1996, when she published her first piece, "Christmas on Board," in New Bay Times. Cutlip later became associate editor for Weatherwise magazine, published in Washington, D.C.
Most of those years, Cutlip lived on a sailboat. "I came back from the Sahara Desert. I'd been on the biggest beach in the world. Now, I needed some water," Cutlip says. She'd been planning to make a leap with a friend, but when he backed out, she didn't. "I'd see people sitting in their cockpits. It was calm and attractive to me but it wasn't a focused goal. It's something that got into me," she says.
On board next door, Cutlip found her husband.
The first night she lived aboard, the dock master knocked on her hatch, asking for the captain. She introduced herself, admitting she was a captain who didn't know the first thing about a boat. Dock master Michael Broglie became first her teacher, then her husband.
"Whenever you are in a relationship you lose a little bit of yourself and that is scary. I was always a me and then I became a we. I couldn't be married to anyone but Michael. He never has taken away from who I am. He makes me better at who I want to be," says the now-expert sailor.
Soon a third sailor came along, and they named her Sienna.
It's she, who spent her first months living aboard, who inspired her mother to write her first book. 'How does Santa board a sailboat?' friends demanded. Cutlip responded with this story for Sienna and waterbabies like her.
The book, with watercolor pictures by renowned children's illustrator James Rice, rewords Clement C. Moore's 19th century The Night Before Christmas to the terms of life aboard.
Twar the night a'fore Christmas on Fisherman's Bay
And the wind she war calm, like she had been all day.
The sails they war stowed an' the sea war like glass,
But the red sky that morn' told me it wouldn't last
Despite troubled weather, Santa makes his appearance on a tugboat led by creatures with such names as Trawler, Matey and Skipper.
Thar, like a whale comin' full to the breech,
I saw the sea break an' I 'erd the wind screech.
As a wave crashed down on us, I squinted to see,
Eight giant seahorses haul a tug from the sea.
Cutlip's book, published in hard cover by Pelican Publishing Company, is part of a series of Nights rewritten for our times. Inspired by Cowboy Night Before Christmas, her book joins Cajun Night Before Christmas and, also this year, Trucker's Night Before Christmas.
When Cutlip heard Cowboy Night Before Christmas, her first thoughts were characteristic. "I can do that," she thought. That's the kind of derring-do that took her to Africa with the Peace Corps, to life on a boat she didn't know how to sail and across Russia on the Trans-Siberian Express.
It's the kind of trust in blind faith or luck that provoked her to quit an enviable job with the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of Natural History, training divers to read history under the water, to try her hand at writing.
"I saw that I was moving into security and salary. I was building this American life and moving away from the creative end. I was getting away from where I want to be.
"The scariest thing for me was to stop and decide I want to be a writer. If I did fail, I had the most to lose," Cutlip says.
Once again, good fortune fell in her lap. Not, of course, without confidence and willingness to work.
With Sienna and a sister or brother due in February, the family left the daily routine of boats behind. Now two-year-old Sienna reaps the benefits of sharing a house with her mother, who edits Weatherwise from home, and her father, who has to leave for work most days.
"Now that I'm in the kid mode, it's a good place to be. I hope there is a future there," Cutlip says about a present that - like so many of the places she found herself after stepping out on faith - she describes as "stumbling into gold."
"There's something inside me now that tells me I could lose everything, and I'd find somewhere and some way to go on and be happy," says she.
-Mary Catherine Ball
Way Downstream ...
In Virginia, the Health Department says don't eat the fish on the Staunton River 29 miles upstream from BGF Industries, a major source of PCBs contamination ...
In New York, a designer named Oliver Beckert has created what you may or may not want to give your partner for the holidays: the Aquarium Toilet. It's a lot like what it sounds like: a see-through toilet with fish swimming around. Lucky for them, they don't get flushed down when the toilet refills. There's one more matter to consider: a price tag of $1,200 ...
At Harvard University, they're talking not just about the year 2000 but the year 3000. Eminent biologist E.O. Wilson said in the New York Times Magazine this week that the planet is losing 30,000 species each year from development, overharvesting and climate change. Among those we may not see 1,000 years from now are prairie dogs, mahogany, truffles and the African black rhinoceros ...
Our Creature Feature this week comes from Britain, where a German shepherd named Shadow got in trouble for acting like a Lab. In fact, Shadow got in so much trouble that he got kicked off the police force for failing his 13-week training course, Reuters reports. Why? Shadow looked fierce, but he was so friendly that when he cornered suspects, he would lick them.
But the Shadow story has a happy ending: Shadow was sent off to a family to be their pet.
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Volume VII Number 49
December 9-15, 1999
New Bay Times
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