It’s Been a Very Good Year

It’s been a good year. True, 2011 is less than two weeks old. But I believe in counting my blessings while they’re fresh.

(Apparently, I also believe in musical clichés, as I’ve used two in 21 words. Eddie Fisher crooned Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep) into my teenage consciousness, where it stuck. Frank Sinatra did the same with A Very Good Year. Both are thick with syrup. So is the Ray Charles and Willie Nelson [!] Very Good Year version on my iPod, but I can’t help loving it.)

Of course I’m writing at the purely local level; in the wider world, this new year is not threatening to show better character than its notorious ancestors. 

But here at Bay Weekly, you’ve blessed me with response to the stories in our first week’s paper. Without your words we’re writing in the dark — hoping they’ll resound with you, but just guessing. Commentary is especially welcome in the early days of a new year, when I feel like I’m inventing the wheel all over again, and once again I’m not sure it will roll.

Any response is better than none. 

So I was delighted to get retired Eastport fireman Art Tuers’ clarification to last week’s Bay Gardener column, in which the Gardener, Dr. Frank Gouin, recommended burning dry Christmas tree trunks. As you’ll read in this week’s Bay Gardener Q&A, you’ve got to exercise extraordinary care, as Frank does, to follow that advice.

The kind I like best is good response, and that’s most of what you’ve sent. 

Back in that ancient month of December, 2010, I promised that with the new year, Bay Weekly would go back to heavy thinking. Where We Live Columnist Steve Carr helped me keep that promise with “20 Questions about the Bay’s New Cleanup Plan.”

Our thought was to explain in plain English the federal megaplan that’s touted as the best effort in three decades to save the Bay. You’ll be hearing more about it everywhere, including in these pages, so we want you to know what everybody’s talking about. The plot will thicken, but I promise to make all we write about it simple and clear, so you can see how it’s affecting your life and your Bay.

Did our first effort work? 

On January 10, we heard from Gary Peacock, watershed specialist for the York County (Pennsylvania) Conservation District. He wanted (and got) permission to reprint Carr’s column in the conservation district newsletter, whose goal is “to enable the citizens of York County to be good stewards of our natural resources.”

So I’m thanking Steve for helping keep my promise. Steve, by the way, begins the year with a new book, The Canyon Chronicles, a memoir of his 15 wild and heady years (1980-1994) working in the Kaibab National Forest, which wraps around the north and south rims of the Grand Canyon. Margaret Tearman, who has put in her own time in Canyon Country, will be reviewing the book for Bay Weekly. But you don’t have to wait. Order at

From day one, Margaret’s first-week story “What Goes Around Comes Around” has called forth wonderful Pay It Forward stories from your own experiences. Read on, and you’ll find two in this week’s Correspondence. 

At Bay Weekly these 18 years, I’ve told my writers that one of the best ways to write a good story is to have a good time discovering, researching, reporting and writing it. The fun of the job is really the fuel that keeps us all going at Bay Weekly. Should it stop being fun, we’re not giving you our best. 

Our best is my promise to you each week. Please write and let me know how we’ve succeeded and, alas, when and how we fail. Because hearing from you makes all my weeks very good weeks.