Volume 1 Issue 12 1993
September 23 - October 6

Previously inaccessible archives from 1993-1997 now coming on-line, with more each week! Note that this is working copy (uncorrected text, no photos, including covers).

Toilet Training: The Least You Should Know about Your Closest Link to Nature

Doing the Right Thing with Your Wastewater (And Your Money) | Trolling for Rockfish — in 1834

Dock of the Bay
Bay Life | Editorial | Letters to the Editor | Commentary

Bay Reflections | Who's Here | Politalk | Diversion & Excursion | Sky Facts

Between the Covers | Laughing Gourment | | Not Just for Kids

to the top

Toilet Training: The Least You Should Know about Your Closest Link to Nature
by Carolyn Martin

Brush your teeth. Flush the toilet. Wash the dishes. Take a shower. Wastewater is the stuff you send down the drain everyday, probably without thinking. It may be out of sight, out of mind, but it’s not out of your life, especially if you live along the Bay.

Where does it go when it leaves your house? One of two places—a septic tank or a sewage treatment system. In the debate of septic versus system, the sewage system usually is preferred by state officials, environmental advocates and scientists, those who judge a wastewater disposal process by its effect on its surroundings.

The difference is quality control. Septic tanks are not regulated, and they can fail if people don’t always take care of them. Sewage treatment plants are strictly regulated and monitored, so they “tend to be an advantage to the ecosystem,” said Jackie Savitz, staff scientist at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

In a system, wastewater is treated before being returned to nature. Treatment systems range from primary, to secondary to tertiary. The ideal is tertiary because it adds an extra step to remove nutrients, namely nitrogen and phosphorus. Nutrients are the hottest issue in wastewater treatment today because of their effect on the Bay.

Too much phosphorus and nitrogen stimulate algae, which cause two problems. First, the flourishing algae block sunlight from plants that make oxygen. Then, when the algae die, they sink to the bottom of the Bay to be eaten by bacteria, which use up oxygen in the process. Basically, an increase in nutrients takes the life-giving oxygen from the rest of Bay life.

Tertiary treatment plants remove most of the nutrients from the wastewater before it is pumped back into the Bay. More than a good idea, this step is essential to the survival of North America’s largest estuary. The 1987 Chesapeake Bay Agreement underlines that importance by calling for a 40 percent reduction in nutrients by the year 2000.

To meet that goal, the Maryland Department of the Environment wants to upgrade all major wastewater plants to tertiary. “The whole emphasis is to remove nutrients to increase dissolved oxygen levels in the Bay and tributaries, to increase the number and quality of species and things that fish feed on,” explains Peter Legg, natural resources planner with MDE.

For Chesapeake Beach and North Beach, that goal is reality. Their wastewater treatment plant, which serves 2,000 residences and businesses, was updated in 1991. According to plant superintendent Jon Castro, the multi-million dollar improvements created a state-of-the art operation, which is helping add to our knowledge of how to remove nutrients.

It’s a delicate process, dependent upon what Castro calls “bugs”—bacteria and micro-organisms like amoebas and protozoans. The bugs can be prodded so that they turn harmful nitrogen into harmless gas.

Here’s how it works. Wastewater entering the plant is cleaned to remove solids. The remaining organic liquid is fed to millions of bugs in a feeding frenzy, who turn the nitrogen into gas. When they’ve eaten the organic material and nutrients, the heavy bugs sink.

The remaining water is disinfected and pumped into the Bay. Some of the bugs are sent back to the beginning to feast again and some are retired as sludge, the solid stuff that remains. The Beaches’ sludge is formed into a dry cake and sent to the landfill. There, it’s used to cover refuse; fertilize grass planted on top when a section of the landfill is full.

Purifying the Beaches’ wastewater is a big job, consuming 20,000 pounds of bugs a day in each 16-day cycle. Castro and his crew constantly monitor the system, maintaining the optimum number, age and temperature of the bugs. “Biological Nutrient Removal is a tightrope...anything can disrupt the process. You’re running the bugs on the edge,” he says.

The state, in turn, monitors Castro. His monthly reports must meet strict permit limits. Too-high levels of nutrients, dissolved oxygen or suspended solids can mean a fine of $5,000 to $125,000. The Environment Department also tests the Bay for signs of trouble. Levels from the March-May testing along the North Beach area showed no unusual stats.

Even tougher to measure is how many nutrients wind up in the Bay from individual septic tanks. EPA’s broad conclusion is that if you have a septic tank, you’re sending eight pounds of nitrogen into the groundwater each year. That groundwater eventually flows into the Bay.

Because scientists and engineers can’t monitor the flow of nutrients from groundwater to the Bay, they’re backing up a step—to the source. New technology will remove nutrients right at your septic tank, using a mini-filtering system with bugs to eat harmful nutrients. The process works a lot like a tertiary sewer plant.

“This shows real promise,” says Richard Piluk, public health engineer with the Anne Arundel County Health Department.

He should know. He designed a septic tank that recirculates household wastewater through a sand filter. According to Piluk, his model removes 60 percent of nutrients from wastewater; a standard septic tank removes about 20 percent of nutrients. The more nutrients removed at the septic tank, the less that flow into the groundwater and eventually into the Bay.

Anne Arundel County uses Piluk’s model to replace failed septic tanks at homes where standard tanks can’t be used because of high water tables or poor soil conditions. Recently, the County received a federal grant to continue a replacement program for low-income homeowners. So far, 60 sand-filter tanks have been installed; another 80 have been approved.

The health department’s immediate concern is the quality of the groundwater—not the Bay. Anne Arundel County’s drinking water comes from groundwater, and many residents have private wells. Too much nitrogen in the well water can be a health risk for infants, because it deprives them of oxygen.

Whether in home septic tanks or public sewage plants, good wastewater treatment keeps people and the environment healthy. That means the water that you send down your drains can stay out of sight—but not out of mind.

to the top

Doing the Right Thing with Your Wastewater (And Your Money)
by Carolyn Martin

New Bay Times Special Environmental Correspondent

Solomons Island has it. Galesville is getting it. Holland Point wants it. What isit? Public sewage treatment service.

It’s not exactly pleasant dinner conversation, but a lot of neighbors in communities along the Bay are talking about wastewater.

In Anne Arundel County, 45 percent of residents are on private septic tanks. The number jumps to 85 percent when you move to Calvert County. The percentages are likely to drop within a few years as failing septic tanks, tremendous growth and stricter environmental regulations push change from private septic tanks to public systems throughout the Bay region.
Making the switch is expensive, disruptive and, some say, forever changes the character of a community. It’s a big decision, as personal as the individual neighborhoods.

Anne Arundel County’s riding a trend to public sewers. Galesville just made the decision to go public; Rosehaven and Holland Point want to, if they can get the money. Shady Side, Deale and Churchton are split between private tanks and public sewer. Farther north, Herald Harbor is all septic tanks, with no immediate plan to change.

In Calvert County, the main sewer plants serve North Beach and Chesapeake Beach, Prince Frederick and Solomons. The balance of residents are on septic tanks. Dares Beach is having tank problems and may consider sewer hookup.

From wanting public service to getting it is a long trip with many hoops and hurdles along the way. Here’s the procedure in Anne Arundel County. First, the majority of residents have to want the service and prove it by presenting the county with a petition. Next comes the task of studying the area and figuring out how much it will cost.

When Galesville petitioned for help, the county studied the community, held public hearings and came up with a proposal. The price tag: $5.2 million. Most of that will be paid by the residents of Galesville, spread out in three different ways: an annual bill to pay for construction, a monthly bill to pay for the service and a one-time bill to pay for the connection. Construction begins this fall and will be completed in one to two years. It will take about three years for Galesville to be on sewer.

Probably the biggest hurdle for a community is funding. Money is not as plentiful as it once was. Most federal grants disappeared about four years ago. Now, the burden falls to those who will get the service. Some scattered federal money remains, but that is more the exception than the rule. Galesville, for example, received federal Housing and Urban Development funding for folks who couldn’t afford to pay. Congressman Steny Hoyer is promoting a $5 million federal grant for the Beaches, and Farm Home Administration grants and loans could bring them near the total cost. Close to a million dollars is promised from county and state sources.

“Few people have the money these days to pay high retail for anything. Maximizing local resources is certainly one way out of that box,” says Jane Schautz of the Rensselaerville Institute in New York, who works with communities around the country to help them get the best deal on projects.

Schautz is acting as a go-between with the residents of Holland Point and Rosehaven as they meet with county public works officials. Facing a $11.7 million—and likely to rise—price tag for a new sewer system, these Baysiders may need some advice.

Schautz explains that her role is to save residents money, and more importantly, to make them real players in the project. Her help is free, paid for by the Institute, which is funded by the EPA and Ford Foundation.

If You Build It, They Will Come.
Development often stirs controversy right along with the wastewater. But again, each community is unique. Galesville wants to keep its small, historical character intact. Chesapeake Beach had other plans, building a $2 million state-of-the-art sewer system, which was mostly funded by developers paying for sewer allocations. The plant is averaging 350,000 gallons of wastewater a day; its capacity is one million.

“I don't think it encourages development, but I think it allows for development which has been artificially restrained,” says Lisa Ritter, spokeswoman for Anne Arundel County’s Public Works Department.

According to Ritter, people who have plans to build or expand often wait until public sewer is in place. “All of a sudden, people are adding third and fourth bedrooms and another bathroom,” she says, noting that their property can handle it with the public system. Because they promote development, sewer plants can strain the ecosystem systems, environmentalists caution. Joe Browder, an international environmental consultant and Fairhaven resident strongly criticizes public sewers. “The time they’re down with leaky, spillage problems is usually significant,” he says. For the environmental health of the Bay region, he favors “a diverse set of local treatments.”

Wastewater experts say there is no sweeping movement from septic to sewer in our area, but there is a new trend of greater awareness. “People just want to know that they’re doing the right thing,” says Debra Wagner of the Maryland Environmental Service. So more communities are “asking someone to come in and at least assess the situation.” It may not have made it to the dinner table yet, but neighbors along the Bay are talking wastewater.

— Donna Reifsnider contributed to this story.

to the top

Trolling for Rockfish — in 1834
by Jim Gscheidle

150 years ago, rockfish bit like fleas—but you worked harder to catch them

Almost every Sunday morning from April till October, my alarm goes off at 4am, letting me know it’s time to get up while others are asleep. I’ve got a desire and destination in mind—for years, antique dealers and collectors have been gathering at the parking lot at Columbia Mall on Sundays between April 15 and October 15 for one of the best on-going flea markets around.

The pros and serious collectors get there early, some at 5am, armed with flashlights in the dark to be the first on the scene. Caravans of cars and vans packed with treasures from the past unload as quickly as possible and those with a sharp eye can find some incredible things.

I always get there by sun-up, for I’ve learned many years ago that the early bird catches the worm. This day, my worm was a bound publication from 1834 called The People’s Magazine, “published every fortnight,”and inscribed in a fine hand as the property of William Thornton Preston.

While looking through a box of old books, I stumbled onto several bound issues of various early magazines. My book training and experience told me to look closely at these old magazines for Edgar Allen Poe articles, which are quite collectable. This time I found no Poe stories but something even more delightful for fishermen—and good for historians too.

Tucked inside this Saturday, May 31, 1834 issue, (Vol. 2 No. 6) buried in the back, was a simple article called “Trolling for Rockfish” (no author mentioned) that may be the earliest known rockfishing account on the Chesapeake Bay or its tributaries.

New Bay Times returns this article to print, for your enjoyment and discussion for the first time in 159 years. (Original punctuation has been retained but some paragraphs shortened.)

Trolling for Rockfish
The rock fish is universally known in all the rivers, and smaller tide-water streams, throughout the United States. The following is a description of the mode in which this fish is trolled for in the Susquehanna.

The season for trolling begins in the latter part of May, and commonly ends about the middle of July; but some years, lasts during August. In the month of June, the rock fish generally bite best. To make good fishing, the river should not be very high nor low, muddy nor clear, but betwixt extremes in these respects. If the water be clear, the fish dart off at the sight of the line; and it is thought, they leave the rapids, when the river is rising, or muddy, to feed upon the flats in the Chesapeake.

Trolling is very much practised from Port Deposit, to almost any given distance up the river, but not below. The grass that the ducks feed upon, grows too thick on the flats in tide-water for trolling, and the channel is uniformly too deep. The rapids above, where the water is in many parts shoal, and the rocky bottom clear of grass, is the proper place for trolling.

Two persons generally fish from the same boat; one of them steers with one hand, and fishes with the other. Each fisherman lets his line out over the side of the boat nearest to him, and close to the stern (where they sit,) holding it in his hand, a few inches from the water, and leaves the end attached to the cork in the bottom of the boat. He throws out nearly all his line, and keeps constantly pulling it, by short jerks, to feel if it is running over a rock or tree top.

The boat is rowed as fast as possible across the river, from shore to shore, above, and as near to the falls as they can go, to avoid being swept down them. The rock fish lie below the falls and ripples, waiting for the small fish that are carried over by the current. Here then the bait falls over, with a constant rotary motion, like a live fish whirled over, side foremost, and struggles in vain against the falls. The swivel turns every time the bait turns, and prevents the line from twisting up into knots; and as there are no sinkers, the rapid head-way of the boat drags them along so fast that the lines have no time to sink.

At the sight of the bait tumbling over the falls, the rock fish darts upward from his cavern in the rocks, and swallows hook and all.

The bite of the rock fish is quick as lightning, and gives a sudden jerk to the arm of the fisherman. When he first discovers he is snared, he rises to the top of the water, and begins to lash it furiously with his forked tail, like “a spirit conjured from the vasty deep,” then plunges down again to the bottom. He is dragged from thence by the fisherman, who hauls in his long line, hand over hand, until he brings his fish alongside of the boat. If he is of tolerable size, weighing only seven or ten pounds, the troller lifts him into the boat by the line; but if the fish his large, he runs his arm down into the water, and lifts him in by his gills.

The excitement that this scene produces, in all those in the boat, is not to be described. One instant you see the fish making the water foam with his tail, the next you lose sight of him; one instant the troller feels him jerking desperately backwards, the next he darts ahead towards the boat, carrying the line with him; and the fisherman, who ceases to feel him, is distressed for fear he has broken loose from the hook. The colored oarsmen cease rowing, to laugh and shout with great glee. The troller’s anxiety to secure his fish is so great, that he alone, of all the company, is silent, and full of uneasiness, until he gets him into the boat.

In this manner, it is not unusual to catch, with two lines, ten or twenty fish, varying in weight from five to twenty pounds each, in an hour—sometimes they are caught much larger. When the fish do not bite fast, the troller does not become wearied soon; his line is always out, and he is in constant expectation of feeling a bite, as the boat glides backwards and forwards across the river, in search of luck. He is not confined to one rock, like the sleepy angler.

This would be very dangerous sport to persons unaccustomed to it. The flat-bottomed boat must be rowed through the most dangerous falls and whirlpools in the river. Sometimes she is forced, at an imperceptible progress, against a current running down at an angle of forty-five degrees. If one of the oarsmen happens to fail in strength, or to dip his oar with a false stroke, the current will snatch it upwards out of his hands, and the frail skiff will be dashed to pieces amongst the rocks. Often they are obliged to get out of the boat on some rock above water, and haul her over.

A person unaccustomed to it, cannot rely upon his senses of hearing or seeing. He is first deafened by the stunning roar of the incessant flood, then sickened by the tossing of the skiff amongst the waves and eddies. The huge rocks that rear themselves thick, to oppose the rushing waters, covered with eagles, and cormorants, and the little islands all seem to be swimming backwards.

And now she flies across a shoal—at first glimpse, the little skiff seems to rest securely on the bottom; at the next, the solid bottom appears deceitfully to recede from beneath her, and leave her to founder in the dark water of a bottomless swirl. And again, before he is aware of it, she seems to have approached so near the falls that nothing can prevent her from going over side foremost. All these false appearances rushing in succession, quick as thought, upon the mind of the troubled novice, turn his brain with dizziness.

Jim Gscheidle, owner of Lazy Moon Books in Solomons, last described “Calvert County’s Karaoke Characters” for New Bay Times.

to the top

The Rivers Run to It
Bay tides move up Bay rivers, and so will the Chesapeake Bay Agreement’s clean-up—but not as soon as had been planned.

Tributary clean-up targets won’t be set until December 31, months later than the original late-summer date, the top powers in the clean-up reported at their annual meeting last week in Newport News. Those powers are the three Bay states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. EPA—all working as the Chesapeake Executive Council.

Blame it on the public, they said. People got more interested than the policy makers anticipated.

“The more people you get involved and approve of it, the easier it is in the long run to get something done, ” said Peter Marx of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay Program.

Observed Maryland’s new environmental secretary, David Carroll: “Gone are the days of “command-and-control regulating.”

At the Rivers of the Chesapeake Action Agenda in mid-September, the secretary described plans to clean up Maryland’s 10 tributaries in a watershed-by-watershed approach, involving residents, business owners, farmers and representatives from local, state and federal governments.

The goals is to reduce the Bay’s nutrient load by 74 million pounds of nitrogen and eight million pounds of phosphorus.

Why focus on the tributaries? Cleaning up the Bay without cleaning up its rivers and streams is like skipping the hallways when you vacuum your house.

Making Movies, Saving the Earth
You may have been to the video store recently and brought home some not-so-subtle messages with your films. Robert Redford’s nostalgic A River Runs Through It features a Wilderness Society public service announcement after the credits.

The rental of Rob Reiner’s A Few Good Men starts with a six-minute spot from the Natural Resources Defense Council featuring Tom Cruise, Whoopi Goldberg, Warren Beatty and others warning of environmental problems. Same goes for Free Willy, where you learn about the slaughter of whales.

Ecomessages do wonders for the membership of environmental organizations, which has been lagging of late. But not so much that three groups in Oregon didn’t raise a stink recently at the prospect of filming The River Wild on the Rogue River.

The advocates contended that the jetboats, helicopters, scaffolding and holes drilled in rocks would be too much for the fragile area. So despite a permit from the Forest Service, Universal Pictures scrapped a plan to start shooting on the Rogue.

Looks like Meryl Streep needs to find a new film.

Video Whistleblowers
Here’s a true story: Bob Gibson and Nolan Ryan, two sure-fire Hall of Fame baseball pitchers, both achieved the coveted career goal of striking-out 3,000 batters.

As luck would have it, the 3,000th victim for both of them was Cesar Geronimo. Asked what he thought about being the historic strikeout for two different pitchers, Geronimo said: “I guess I was just in the right place at the right time.”

This is a story about some environmental champions who’re finding themselves in the right place at the right time—but hitting home runs.

Have you ever seen some company dumping, bulldozing, spewing or otherwise violating pollution laws—and wished you could do something about it?

Well, more and more ordinary citizens are doing something. They’re not taking the law into their own hands—they’re taking video cameras in their hands, and taking their case, and film, directly to federal prosecutors.

My mother taught me two wrongs don’t make a right, but I soon figured out that three left turns do.

Folks are clearly finding their way around the bureaucratic logjams that have let companies pollute so freely, for so long.

Like these huge cruise ships that have become notorious garbage dumpers at sea, tossing tons of plastic, glass and other waste over board every night. It’s against the law, because plastic, for example, has become a major killer of sea birds and mammals. But authorities never seem to be there at the right time to catch polluters in the act.

Alvin and Marilyn Levett were. On vacation aboard Regal Princess, this Michigan couple videotaped the crew jettisoning bag after bag of waste into the sea. Last month, their evidence resulted in the company pleading guilty to illegal dumping and paying a $500,000 fine. And under a recent law to encourage environmental whistleblowers, half of that fine was sent to the Levetts.

Our best environmental guardians are you—people who care, pay attention and take action. To report ocean dumping or spills, call the Coast Guard's National Response Center toll-free at 1/800/424-8802. —Original to AlterNet by Jim Hightower

South County: Too Poor for Fireworks in '94?
In southern Anne Arundel County, they could be ending the next Fourth of July not with a bang but a whimper.

Shady Side’s Kiwanis Club has announced that it will no longer be coordinating the local fireworks display, which has been held in several communities. The task has fallen to the Galesville Heritage Society, which is trying to gather $5,000 for next year’s festivities.

Planners want to have a good chunk of the donations by the end of the year. So if you’re a fireworks fan or a patriotic soul, get out your checkbook. See John Whitman, owner of West River Market in Galesville, or write to: Fireworks ‘94. Galesville Heritage Society; POBox 373; Galesville, MD 20765.

Way Downstream...
Down in the Florida Keys, they’re working to replenish the rare Queen Conch, which all but disappeared a decade ago because of pollution and overharvesting.

Like oysters in the Chesapeake, conchs (pronounced cahnks) were abundant in the crystalline waters of South Florida. They’re actually a giant snail and a delectable one if you know how to prepare the meat. They’re strikingly beautiful as well as tasty, another reason they’ve become rare.

You’ve probably seen one of their cornucopia-shaped shells, pink, shimmery, and up to a foot long. Most anyone who gets to the Caribbean brings one home.

Earlier this month, biologists in Florida released about 500 of the regal mollusks; 10,000 more will be dropped in the ocean next spring. First, they must be grown from tiny eggs, which can’t withstand Florida’s modern coastal sewage...

Golf courses are getting quite a bit of grief these days for all the pesticides and fertilizers they dump around. But in Texas, golfers may be asked to pay a “toad fee” to preserve the threatened Houston Toad. The deal is this: the 9-hole Lost Pines Golf club wants to expand to 18 holes, but the endangered toad is in the way. So somebody at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department concluded that extra golf fees could create toad habitat elsewhere. So far, both golfers and wildlife advocates think the plan sounds fishy. So do the toads...

Conservationists argue that the U.S. government has no business helping China build the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtse River. The group Defenders of Wildlife contends that the dam threatens three endangered species: the giant panda, the Chinese tiger and the Siberian crane. They have sued to keep the United States out of the deal...

In health-minded Switzerland, civil defense workers are passing out potassium iodide pills to protect people in the event of a nuclear plant accident. Many Swiss homes already have shelters built to keep out radioactivity. Now, the Swiss government is providing 65 million of the white pills, which might prevent cancer by keeping radioactive iodine from accumulating in thyroid glands...

According to a new poll there’s more fallout from the movie Jurassic Park than bad dreams by kids. The poll, sponsored by an organization called TechnoPolitics, showed that adults who had seen the film were more wary than normal of genetic engineering...

For this week’s Creature Feature, we had been wondering what to do about nutria, those pesky rodents that have been rooting up marshland along the Chesapeake. These stocky, root-chomping natives of South America can grow to two-feet long and 20 pounds.

We’ve got an idea, which may not be for the faint of stomach. In the bayous of New Orleans, marsh-munching rats have caught the eye of gourmet cooks, who are using them for gumbos and jambalayas. “It’s fantastic...it’s a shame people think about the word “rat’,” observed one chef.

Which reminds us of the observation by a noted roadkill expert from North Carolina: “Whether you get it with a gun or a Goodyear, it’s still the same meat.”

to the top

It’s the Attitude, Stupid
Back in Campaign ‘92, the guiding phrase of the Clinton forces was the now-famous sign on the campaign manager’s wall: "It’s the economy, stupid,” the sign admonished.

Governors from around the Bay ought to have fostered similar purposefulness when they gathered for their annual meeting last week. After all, cleaning up the environment is similar to a political campaign; in both, winning over the public is the way to succeed. The only way.

Instead, what sounded at the Chesapeake Executive Council could have a different effect.

First, from the coverage we saw, there was too much congratulating; too many big egos patting one another’s back to say what a good job has been done.

A little of that goes along way. We wouldn’t have wanted to rain on the governors’ picnic at Newport News. But the fact remains that oysters in the Bay are in crisis, the long-term crab population is threatened, farm chemicals continue to pour in and many toxics lurk.

If people get a sense that their governors are satisfied, they may be less likely come down on the side of hard choices when it comes to controlling runoff or preserving wetlands, to name just two problems on the horizon.

Secondly, we observed something akin to whining by our public officials about a potential letdown in some areas of Bay cleanup because of an uninterested public.

“There’s a tremendous untapped resource of people that we’ve been unable to get to,” Maryland Gov. William Donald Schaefer was quoted as saying.

Schaefer also lamented that planning to reduce the flow of damaging nutrients into the Bay—the so-called tributary strategy—is being delayed because people have put the reins on government.

What happened to leadership?

If people are indeed uninterested about the health of the Bay—and we don’t think that’s true—then a powerful case for public participation needs to be made in forums such as these.

Of course, the blame could lie in the reporting on the conference, which also conveyed no sense of urgency about tasks at hand. But it’s wrong to blame the messengers for reporting what they heard and saw.

Here again, the onus lies with the politicians. Their mission, like that of successful political candidates, should be shaping the message that is carried away from an important gathering such as this.

As far as Bay restoration, that message should be that we’ve got miles to go before we rest.

While we’re on the topic of communication, let us pause for a moment on one of our pet peeves: the dogged insistence by government—and newspapers, too—to spout jargon.

Submerged aquatic vegetation. Non-point source emission. Nutrients…nitrogen and phosphorous pollution. Tributary strategy. Fisheries management plan. Public imput. 40 percent by the year 2000. Marine environments. Address. Modify.

These are some of the words that get in the way of cleaning up the Bay. That’s because they draw no pictures in our minds. They’re a foreign language that ordinary people—even smart and educated ordinary people—have to painstakingly translate. One at a time, such words might be OK, but they run in packs. One follows another in longs strings that turn our brains to mush.

When we don’t understand, we don’t care—and we’re not about to act.

Leave jargon to the scientists—who get paid to know what it means.

We have always believed that universities ought to offer a course called Plainspeak for scientists and engineers. Maybe government officials ought to sign up, too. That way, they could talk to people, not above us. We all could understand things better. And who knows, maybe get a little more done.

to the top

Dedicated Naggers
Dear New Bay Times:

Thanks so much for mentioning us in your very welcome newspaper.

It brought me a contribution of $25, which we received (gratefully) from Robert Engleman, who is director of Population Action International in Washington. He congratulated me on our local initiative, saying “your work is as important as anyone’s on earth.”

My concern is how to get government involved in stimulating and working with responsible grassroots organizations on the issues of “sustainability.” Governments have great quantities of funds, which they normally expend doing things to the citizens rather than with them, perpetuating the feeling of disempowerment that plagues us.

Our organization benefits from the cooperation of some very enlightened city, county, and state officials who are offering us the opportunity to generate projects that will be implemented by government. We can help develop wider citizen participation and can be the “dedicated naggers” Paul Massicot (director of DNR’s Tidewater Administration) says we are.

Anne Pearson, Alliance for Community Education, Bowie

“No Lovelier Spot on the Bay”
Dear Barbi:
Thank you for the article about your 40th birthday party.

My grandmother, Mrs. Hunt, told me about your Dad’s tragic accident when I was young, I remember meeting your Mother, and I remember very clearly the love and compassion extended to your family. I also remember fondly some of the names in your story, and it has triggered a flood of memories.

Do your remember the church services at the Cove Club by the Bridge at Fair Haven? How ‘bout that wonderful song, “There’s a cove on the Bay in Fair Haven, no lovelier spot on the Bay… no spot is so dear to my Redeemer, as God’s Fair Haven cove on the Bay,” sung to the tune of “A Church in the Wildwoods”?

Always, I spent every summer at my Gramma’s, roaming between Fair Haven and the Cliffs, stopping at the bridge often for crabbing, or talking, or hanging out (as they say), or to Padgett’s for candy. I also spent a lot of time at Friendship Church.

When I was in high school, my maternal Grandma bought a house in the cliffs almost across from your grandma’s house, and your family was often in my thoughts.

I was lucky enough to fall in love and marry a man who shared my love of the Bay (his summers were spent over the line in Calvert County). One of our first dates was to Fair Haven to meet my grandparents. Twenty years ago, we bought a beach house at Cove Point, and I have been lucky to share our love of the Bay, the crabs, the fish and birds, with our children, and they love it too. Another generation, the fourth, to be part of that cycle.

My brother and his family still live in Fair Haven, so the cycle is unbroken.

Thanks again for allowing me to reminisce. My husband also enjoyed your article: 28 years ago, I pointed out your family farm and told him the tragic story of your Dad’s accident.

With fond regards,
Lynn Hunt Hennig, Cove Point

Ed.’s Note: Thanks to Barbi Shields for allowing us to print Lynn Hennig’s letter.

Good News
Dear New Bay Times:
I read your paper cover to cover and I don’t walk away with the weight of the world on my shoulders.

Billy Jones, The Highlands, Chesapeake Beach

to the top

Gardening Life Lessons
by Jill Severn

For a serious gardener, being a renter rather than a homeowner can be torture. And for a gardener who had once sunk roots in the same place for 15 years, the impermanence of renting can cause a real crisis of the spirit. It’s a crisis that can be resolved, but not easily—especially not after the experience of eviction.

I was evicted from a tiny cabin, built right to the edge of a sea wall, with a sunset-facing deck. I moved there in September, and for most of that first month I fell asleep listening to migrating salmon jump and planning renovation of the garden. I had brought callalilies, phlox, and a dozen other perennials with me from my old garden, and, over the next year, I planted roses, clematis, a honeysuckle, and a hundred daffodils. With the help of bemused neighbors, I hauled topsoil down the stairs from the street behind me, one garbage canful at a time. I cleaned out several hundred yards of morning glory vines and roots, a nest of blackberries, and a tidal wave of ivy that had spilled over a fence.

It was at the beginning of my second spring in this house that I came home one night to find the eviction notice stuck in my gate. The owner wanted the house made available for his son—in 30 days or less.

Months later, curiosity drew me back to check on the condition of that beloved little garden. The sight of it—gone utterly to ruin—reminded me of something tactless I had said in a friend’s back yard a few weeks earlier. Her neighbor had a beautiful garden that we had often admired over the fence. But on this occasion, it was unkempt and overgrown with weeds. “Good grief,” I had quipped, “did your next-door neighbor die or something?” In fact, he had. As penance, I spent the next two hours weeding.

Looking at the awful destruction and decay of my little garden, I felt as if I had died, too.

For a year after I left that happy little home, I planted only annuals, and, after digging up half the lawn in my boring suburban back yard, a midsize vegetable garden. I couldn’t resist the urge to garden, but neither could I bring myself to think more than a season ahead.

Now, in my second year, I still don’t know how long I’ll stay, but I’ve reverted to type: I planted more roses, clematis, and honeysuckle—and then, mock orange, a dogwood tree, an Exbury azalea, and large new beds of perennials, raspberries, and native shrubs and ferns. I have slid back into gardening as if I thought I would be here for a long time—or as if I thought the next tenant would nurture and enjoy what I’ve planted, or as if I thought that the future of a garden didn’t matter anyway.

There is still some part of me that grieves the loss of the illusion of permanence. And some days I still find myself struggling against falling in love with a garden that I am likely to have to leave. I have not planted any fruit trees. I am beginning to discover, though, that being a renter is gradually changing my perspective on both gardening and mortality.

Surely we will all die, and our gardens will be left to others—or to no one. From this angle of vision, we are all renters, subject to eviction without notice. This, however, is an idea that takes most of us nearly an entire lifetime to understand.

Now that I think about it, I realize that of all the gardeners
I’ve known, the ones with gray hair are the most likely to be out
planting Douglas firs or walnut trees. They know perfectly well that
these trees will mature long after the hand that planted them has
turned to compost. Their pleasure is in watching the next generation
grow, and they seem to have found a deeper faith that their efforts are worthwhile.

It’s that faith that renters of all ages have to struggle for: the faith that the deepest pleasure of gardening is in the act of planting and the witness of growth. Whatever legacy we leave the next occupants or the next generation is truly theirs to preserve, neglect, restore, or destroy.

Our lot is to leave the best we can, to enjoy the act of creating it, and then to let go when it’s our time to move on.

In that little garden by the sea, I found a deep red rose, planted long ago, blooming in a tangle of blackberries. I appreciate that rose now even more than I did when I lived there.

So if I’m still here next spring, I will plant fruit trees. I may even install a rose arbor. But in the meantime, I’m also saving money for a down payment on a house of my own.

Jill Severn wrote this “Commentary” for the Seattle Weekly

to the top

Follow the Gulls
by Sandy Irving

Most teenagers need a refuge, a place to call their own. My sanctuary was my grandmother’s pier. It stood on Bodkin Creek, a small tributary of the Chesapeake Bay. A rickety structure on the verge of decay, it offered me solace and solitude. I walked to the end, picking my way over holes left by planks long since rotted away. Dangling my feet over the edge of the pier, I watched the minnows playing just under the surface of the water. Although I could still hear the distant rumblings of civilization, the water mesmerized me, and I sat daydreaming while the tide took my problems away.

Sometimes in spring, I got up in the grey light before dawn to watch the sun rise over the water. While I savored the clear, salty air, the chill of early morning breezes sent shivers down my spine. Across the Creek, lights blinked in the windows of the houses, their electric glow a feeble imitation of the golden glow of the sun dawning on the horizon. As the water rippled and lapped at the pilings, the cry of gulls diving for breakfast broke the morning’s calm, telling me it was time to start my day.

In the summer months, I basked in the prickly heat of the sun while I listened to the children laughing and splashing in the clear water. Heat radiated from the sun-bleached planks and smells of suntan oil and roasting hot dogs drifted up from public beaches. The droning engines of pleasure boats mingled with the screeching cry of the gulls gliding overhead. Like diamonds glittering in the unshaded sun, the water blinded me with its brilliance. Finally, the heat and humidity overcame my desire to get a tan and I jumped into the water. It was cool and refreshing end to a hot summer day.

Although autumn brought crisp, cold air that ended the summer’s fun, it also brought rainbows of color reflected across the water. The sun set early, casting its violet hue over the coastline. The yellow and red leaves faded into grey while the sun sank lower in the sky. Darkness eventually descended, claiming the day’s glory but leaving me feeling content and peaceful. The shore was quiet and calm, only the gulls and ducks remaining to share the change of the seasons. If I stood at the end of the pier and yelled as loud as I could, my voice would come back to me, echoing between the opposing shores.

For years I watched the seasons change from the pier, sorting out my problems, dreaming about my future or having fun in the water. I still go back to the Bodkin, but nothing is the same. Four modern fishing boats are docked at the pier, and gas and oil float on the water. It’s murky and polluted and lifeless. The gulls have long since gone elsewhere on the Bay to find new feeding grounds. On a hot summer day, the stench of dead fish assaults my nostrils before I get to the bulkhead. The pier is strong and new, smelling of creosote, and the old planks are replaced each year before they have a chance to decay.

Like the gulls, I searched the Bay for better waters and ended up building my own pier. It barely juts out into Nan’s Cove on the Patuxent River, a firm but unimpressive structure with hand-pumped pilings.

Today, I tried to show my kids how to net the hard crabs playing hide and seek in the Bay grass. Herons were fishing for soft crabs as we dangled our feet into the water. The cove looks cool and the day is hot. Annie, Stephen and I pile into the row boat, and when it’s dep enough, they leap into the water.

“Look, Mom, a turtle is swimming right for us!” Annie yells to me and then dives under water.

“God put this river here just for me to swim in, didn’t he, Mom?” says my five-year-old son.

I laugh and jump in after them, hoping that years from now, they won’t have to follow the gulls to better feeding grounds.

As you can see, Sandy Irving is a storyteller…professionally.

to the top

Edna Florence’s LastTrip
Photos and text by David Hawxhurst

The Shady Siders gathered that early morning in the Parrish Creek boat yard, swapping stories about boats and storms. About growing up around the Chesapeake. And about shared ties to an old boat, the Edna Florence.

On this day, the half-century-old Bay built was taking her last trip—to the Captain Salem Avery House, as a gift of Annapolitan Ruthie Thompson

Marina and museum are separated only by a thin section of woods, but the mile-long move was a hard one. The Edna Florence has seen better days. After four years aground, surrounded by weeds and sticker bushes, she suffers from rot and a hole in her side. Her wood had begun to rot after being out of water for about four years.

Would she hold together when her copper-plated hull was lifted? She did, bravely, sagging just a little under her own weight.

After Bob Meyer of Meyer Marine Service carefully seated her on an adjustable boat trailer, the Edna Florence was driven around the tight turns of Shady Side back roads to the shed that will house her for restoration and display.

She’ll be restored, under the direction of George Daly, co-president of the Shady Side Rural Heritage Society, in the museum’s new boat house. And there she’ll stay, to help us remember.

Observed Barbara Owings, former president of the Salem Avery Preservation Society: “She’s coming home, she’s one of our own.”

1. TheEdna Florence, a dead-rise Bay-built boat, was built by Captain Perry Rogers in Shady Side for hand-tonging oysters. Long and thin, she stayed steady when she was anchored from the stern, thus making her a good working boat.

2. Captain Neil Groom looked the Edna over carefully while reminiscing about earlier times.

3. Piloting the 45-foot boat through tight turns was a team effort.

4. Bob Meyer positioned a support under the Edna to ensure a safe trip..

5. Erwood Avery, grandson of Captain Salem Avery, and Herb Sadler, original owner of the boat, were on hand to watch the Edna Florence’s overland voyage.

to the top

Star Wars Airs on Radio Thanks to Annapolitan Brian Daley
by Liz M. Zylwitis

If you, like me, need a good reason to give the bottom of your FM dial a chance, the radio adaptation of the 1977 film sensation, Star Wars, now airing on WAMU FM 88.5 Sunday nights at 7, may well be it.

Han Solo, Princess Leia, R2D2 and 3CPO plus the whole Star Wars intergalactum of weird species are back, thanks to Brian Daley, 45, a local science fiction writer.

How does a visual sensation like Star Wars the movie translate to radio—or the printed page?

The audience fills in the gaps. National Public Radio’s selective, attentive, and imaginative audience conjures up the images for themselves. Anthony Daniels, the actor who played C3P0 in both the movie and the radio adaptation Star Wars said, “In a radio drama, the audience wears the costume.” In the movie, on the other hand, words accounted for only 26 minutes of the film, and audiences saw only one side of many situations.

Novelists expect even more from their audience, requiring them to match in attention to detail their own thorough descriptions of costumes, props and setting. Meticulous description distinguishes a novel from a screenplay, which might include only a word or two inside parentheses to say the same thing.

With Star Wars, Daley’s career, like everything associated with the astro-fueled series, took off. He was hardly more than a college kid—talented enough to have written a couple of sci-fi novels and smart enough to have hired himself an agent to market his work— when he lassoed the "tie-in rights" to an unknown, upcoming science fiction movie.

Tie-in rights? Think of a media event like Star Wars as a big, rich lemon meringue pie. Tie-in rights give other enterprises—from towel and sheet makers to book publishers and radio networks—a piece of the pie. In 1979, George Lucas sold Star Wars’ production rights to the University of Southern California for “a dollar,” as Daley tells it. Daley’s publisher, Ballantine Del Rey—a division of Random House— got Star War’s then untested tie-in rights.

Enter Daley. Why not pick a character from Star Wars to shape his third book around? the publisher suggested.

Daley chose Han Solo because, he told me over pizza at an Annapolis eatery, “Harrison Ford’s character is the only one who makes a moral decision. Everyone else either starts off good and winds up good or starts off bad and... He’s the only one who changes.”

Instead of a single book, Daley developed a trilogy: Han Solo at Star's End, Han Solo’s Revenge and Han Solo and the Lost Legacy. To date, over two million copies have been sold.

Based upon the strength of Daley’s trilogy, Ballantine Del Rey and NPR asked him to use his knowledge of story and characters to adapt Star Wars.

Beginning in the winter of ‘79 and summer of ‘80, Daley lived the dream of his lifetime. In Northern Hollywood near Universal Studios, he worked side by side Hollywood actors and British director/producer John Madden to record Star Wars for radio.

For NPR, he expanded both story and characters. His approach worked. Star Wars was the most successful serial that NPR had ever done.

A year and a half later, he returned to Hollywood to adapt The Empire Strikes Back. With a second hit to his credit, Daley was ready to begin work on Return of the Jedi with NPR, when then-President Ronald Reagan cut funding to public radio. Funds remained hard to come by throughout the rest of Reagan’s and George Bush’s presidencies. Whether the Jedi will return to NPR remains to be seen, but Daley is hopeful.

After working on a phenomenal success like Star Wars, Daley didn’t retire on his laurels. He’s kept right on writing and now has about seven to eight books in his name and another 12 under Jack McKinney, the joint pen name he shares with his friend, James Luceno, from West Chester, Pennsylvania. He’s also written a couple of audio scripts for Walt Disney Studios.

That, he advises, is what it takes for any writer to succeed: Persistence, assertiveness and connections. Make contacts early and maintain them. Find out what kinds of books the publishers want—and write them. Use a literary agent to extend your reach.

Finally do not be put off by rejection; do not stop writing. After all, Daley says, “99 percent of the people who talk about writing, never write. And 99 percent of the people who start writing never finish.” Good old-fashioned consistency puts young authors ahead of their peers.

Daley relocated from Manhattan to Arnold after Star Wars. Here, he likes the libraries and technical expertise, which have helped him with his latest work, GammaLAW, the story of an ocean planner.

When you get down to it, he’s not much different from the rest of us, lured by the water more than by any alien planet.

A Day at the Races
by Dale Bennett

You’ve learned the rules of racing and how to get your boat ready to go from Dale Bennett. Now, he shares the thrill of the race.

Just one last drink of cool water before I jump into the fray and mix it up with the other boats. The ten-minute gun has just sounded. The intensity level is rising as we stand poised to do battle with eight foes—all in the name of fun, of course. My crew and I savor the moment. Ahead of us, eight boats join in a graceful dance, their tall masts and gleaming white sails swaying to and fro.

I sheet in the main, and my crewman hardens the jib. We go charging through the middle of the group, dodging boats coming at us from all sides, to join in the dance. Now and again shooting head-to-wind to find out where the wind is coming from, I begin to plot my strategy for the start.

Welcome to a Star fleet race. The Star is a 22-foot sloop designed in 1911 by Francis Sweisguth and run in competition since 1932. An Olympic-class sailboat, she is a purebred racehorse, designed solely for racing, with a huge mainsail, a deck-sweeping boom, and no spinnaker. Today’s course is a gold-cup course, a triangle with the first leg to windward, two reaching legs, one more beat to windward, and a downwind run to the finish.

The wind is oscillating slowly to the right of the course and back. I want to stay on the right side to get the wind first. In the plan I hatch, instead of mixing it up with everyone else and ending up in dirty air, I will make a port-tack approach across the sterns of the other boats. I’ll make a slightly late start to shoot out to the right side of the course in clear air.

The five minute gun has sounded, moving the fleet off to the right for the usual starboard tack approach to the starting line. They fight for the best position on the line, while I hang back nervously and shoot head-to-wind one last time. As the minutes wind down, I trim the sails and go boring off on part tack across everyone’s sterns to cross the right side of the starting line seconds after the gun.

For a moment, my crew and I are alone. We hear only the sound of water hissing as our bow slices through. We both sigh in relief that our plan has worked so well. I adjust the backstays to shift from the power to the speed mode as I take a quick glance astern at our competition. Several have tacked over to join us.

When the wind finally shifts back to head, we tack toward the middle of the course. We’ll be able to evaluate our start was as we cross the fleet. Yes, we’re in good position.

One of the boats is getting close. Drawing nearer, we’re both heading for the same spot on the water. Will he cross us to get the advantage? We’re both pushing to our limits. My eyes meet the enemy helmsman’s and know he’ll have to give way since we have starboard tack advantage. As he bears off to take my stern a thought occurs: I quickly tack to port to blanket him, and the strategy works just as if it had been rehearsed. I can’t stop smiling as his boat drops slowly behind and finally must tack away.

The fleet is well spread as we fall into line to round the windward mark smoothly and fly off on a reach.

The competitors hold their positions on the reaching legs, at least as far as I can see. We trim for speed, trying to react to each wind shift and gust.

Approaching the wing mark, we crouch down deep in the cockpit to avoid decapitation by that big boom coming across inches above our heads as we gybe around the mark.

At the downwind mark, the fleet is spread out even more. We round the mark, staying on the same tack as we turn back to windward, heading to the right side that has favored us before. Now, most of the fleet join us.

The wind has picked up a bit and so has the chop. I have to steer a wavy course as I power through the waves and ease off through the troughs.

We have few other confrontations as we tack up the right side of the course again. We keep pressing the competitors slightly ahead of us, but we can’t ignore those close behind. We hike hard to keep the boat upright. I keep trying to take the bow of the boat immediately in front of me but can’t quite get it. That’s OK, I say, stay close and I’ll get you going downwind.

One last time around the windward mark, and it’s a downwind run to the finish. The clouds of sail we spread now make an effective windbreak against the boat in front of us. We edge past him, then move away so he can't do the same to us.

The ride is smooth as silk; we are flying. We keep climbing up over our bow wave and soaring on a plane ride. From underneath comes a wild shussing sound. The sails and rigging are taut as guitar strings.

As we press on this wild sleighride, exhausted yet exhilarated with a race well run, the committee boat and finish line are in sight.

The gun goes off at the finish line.

Where did we place?

I’ll leave that to your imagination.

Learn more about the Star Class from its central office: International Star Class Yacht Racing Association; 1545 Waukegan Rd.; Glenview, IL 60025 (708)729-0603.

to the top

In the Field

Beautiful goldenrod is now waving its wandlike stem and head of yellow flowers in fields and along roads. Hayfever season. But don’t blame the goldenrod—its pollen is too heavy to be carried about by the wind. Ragweed, inconspicuously blooming at the same time, is the culprit.

You have to look hard for ragweed’s flowers: they’re tiny green petal-less knobs filled with abundant pollen. Ragweed is easy to overlook, yet it commonly grows up to three feet tall with some species twice that tall.

Now that I know what to look for I find far more ragweed than goldenrod along the road. Achoo!

On the Road
Everywhere you drive you see bits of fuzz hurrying across the road: wooly bears. These little caterpillars are traditionally thought to be harbingers of winter chill: the thicker their coats the more unbearable the winter. This year looks chilly.

In the Water
Each day takes us closer to Maryland’s Oct. 1 rockfish opening, which promises to be a bonanza. Unlike the spring season where only the true lunkers were fair game, this fall every striper over 18 inches is yours to keep, unless you prefer to catch and release.

Until then, anglers in the Middle Bay should be able to enjoy some decent action with other species. Who’s here, according to Capt. George Prenant of Deale, are “plenty” of Spanish mackerel, flounder, snapper blues, “some croaker and a few small Norfolk spot.”

Some of the captains report pulling in a pike-like species that they’re calling lizard fish. But they’re not especially good eating, so don’t bother chasing them.

For an updated report or to book a charter, call Capt. Prenant at 301/261/9075.

to the top

Crab Cracking Down
When crabs rebounded this summer from last year’s dreadful harvest, there was speculation that the governor’s office would back off plans for new restrictions.

That won’t happen.

William P. Jensen, Maryland’s director of fisheries, told a legislative panel in Annapolis this month that the Department of Natural Resources would move ahead with curbs both for watermen and recreational crabbers.

For recreational crabbers, that is likely to mean a license and a limit of one bushel a day. Commercial crabbers could be restricted to 300 pots, which is likely to be a prominent bone of contention in the coming weeks.

Of course, none of this is certain, and DNR plans hearings next month in Annapolis and several other spots. But it seems Maryland will heed the warnings crabs have been giving us and not risk being fooled by the recent bounty of ‘‘beautiful swimmers” in the Bay.

Cough, Cough...Sir!
Football fans at the 31-10 Navy romp over Eastern Illinois had a few surprises that prompted quizzical looks and gasping coughs. First, the Academy scored more points against the Panthers than any game in three years (pleasant surprise).

Second, the cannon blast marking those touchdowns and field goal sent clouds of smoke into the stands (not pleasant). At one point, three air-polluting celebrations lingered in the crowd.

The quizzical looks came not at the shock of the score nor the sight of all those freshmen doing pushups (very pleasant) … but from the game announcer who reminded fans, just as the cannon fired, that they were sitting in a non-smoking stadium.

Grassroots Attention
When you talk grassroots campaigns to most politicians, they refer to a bottom-up strategy of organizing voters. Politicians in our area have a different view ... a Bay view. When they talk grassroots campaigns, they refer to efforts to restore underwater grasses.

Governors and mayors from Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and D.C. recently agreed to work to restore 114,000 acres of watery Bay grasses. The directive was signed at the Chesapeake Executive Council meeting.

One of the best indicators of the Bay’s health is its underwater grasses. The vegetation feeds and houses all kinds of fish, shellfish and waterfowl. It also blocks algae supergrowth and traps sediment. The healthier the grasses, the healthier the Bay.

Bay grasses dropped to an all-time low in 1984. Since then, more than 30,000 grassy acres have been restored. Scientists think the new goal of gaining 114,000 acres will be reached next century, in the year 2005.

Tireless Pursuits
They say you can’t go home again. David McIntosh of Brunswick, MD didn’t accept that. He remembered swimming in a crystal clear Potomac as a boy, and wanted to pass that legacy along to his stepchildren.

Some might have let 200 tires stand in their way, but not this former soldier and pastor. Those polluting tires made a muddy mess of the river, so McIntosh organized his wife and her two sons into a work party. They pulled out the old tires by hand and hauled them away to a cement company, which used the tires to fire kilns.

No doubt when his stepsons returned to school this fall, they had the most environmentally correct answer to, “What did you do on your summer vacation?”

Amphibious Blockade
Down in St. Mary’s County, the tiny, seldom-seen, Eastern narrow-mouthed toad is flexing its muscles.

When the county planned to rebuild a road next to St. Mary’s State Park, officials knew that a strip of wetlands would be disturbed. So they called the DNR, where a computer reported that an endangered little toad lived in that wetlands.

That stopped road construction and started a debate about preservation versus progress.

Word is that the toad is staying out of sight but loving the discussion.

License to Pollute?
The U.S. EPA is expanding its air quality program in a way that sounds good but might need a closer look. This particular program would help utilities that emit acid-rain pollutants.

Here’s how: If your plant has low emissions you get a pollution credit. You could then sell your credit to another plant that is a big polluter but claims it can’t afford to clean up its own act. Selling your credit means you make money and the other plant looks good on paper.

EPA chief Carol Browner says the trading policy makes good economic sense, and she predicts it will be an incentive for companies to clean up their act.

Maybe, but we’ll be taking that closer look.

And Now, the Rest of the Story
After years of silence, former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara will write his autobiography. It should make interesting reading since he was in charge at the Pentagon during the intense years of the Vietnam War. In addition to strategy, perhaps he’ll shed light on an environmental and health concern lingering from those days...Agent Orange.

McNamara served as defense secretary under presidents Kennedy and Johnson.

to the top

Snug Harbor
It’s not one of those prissy places where you go away hungry

If you want to get to know a town, you better visit its restaurant.

Where better can you—as they say—get the flavor of a place?

You can drive through the streets, but you’ll stay an onlooker. Even taking a stroll, where the pavement shapes your stride, leaves only momentary impressions. You can go to a church, a lodge, or a bar—if you’re already one of the brotherhood. You can go to the library, but there your thoughts will be elsewhere.

But oldtimers and strangers alike drop by the restaurant to sit a spell, share a story, store up the view—and sink their teeth into the town.

Every town worth its salt has its restaurant. Shady Side now boasts two. The Bay View Inn has the right look for Shady Side, but once inside you see it’s a worldlier place, with aspirations to rank in a who’s who of America’s Country Inns. We’re saving the Bay View till we look at a few of that class.

Snug Harbor, Laughing Gourmet found, is plainly salty. It’s the local tavern where the food is good—the kind of place likely to be called the Dew Drop Inn.

You don’t expect a view at the local tavern, and you don’t get one at Sung Harbor. Ditto for decor; whether you’re ensconced in the snug front room or too-big back room, you won’t find the labor of ambiance consultants on display.

Entertainment? In addition to the television, $1 will buy you 11 songs on the juke box up front and, on weekends, DJ Bucky Muirphy throws a an old-time rock ‘n roll/doo-wop party.

What you do expect at the local tavern is big plates of good food—steak, chicken and fish. Especially fried food. And real good fish. Which is exactly what you’ll find at Snug Harbor.

Most of us don’t even bother to consult the menu, cause we’re loyal to our favorites—the steak sandwich, fried chicken, or beer-batter-fried flounder. Try the flounder: it’s more pieces than you could ever eat, though you just might manage once you bite into the that tempura-light, crackling crust. (The “chips,” I’m sorry to say don’t deserve that English name; they’re cut in the American mold and fried flavorless.)

But wait...there is more here to consider before you order.

The crab cake, for instance, which made on the spot by 72-year-old Marian “Mum” Howard, who owned a pub in England during the War (that’s World War II) and who even now, says owner Mike Evans, “can work two kids to death.”

Those crab cakes have won prizes, and Mike has turned down money for the recipe. “We’ve about got crab cakes figured out,” he allows.

When Mike wants to gild the lily, he takes Miz Howard’s crab cake mixture and stuffs it into a soft-shelled crab. Then he batters the crab in the same mixture he uses on the flounder and deep-fries it. I know what you’re thinking, but deep-fried soft-shell works this way. Boy, is it good.

Unless you’ve been at sea for a while, you might not be able to handle the two-crab dinner—served with a stuffed baked potato, locally grown vegetable and unimaginative salad bar. Two of you might not be able to handle the impressive steamed seafood platter for two ($25) with hard crabs, snow crab legs, clams casino, mussels, shrimp, steamers—and substitutions if one of those seafoods don’t agree with you. Snug Harbor is not one of those prissy places where you go away hungry.

In fact, you’re going to put some meat on your ribs if you sit down often at Snug Harbor.

You may be feeling close to popping when Mike reminds you that all of Snug Harbor’s desserts—from fancy cheesecakes to fudge brownie pie—are homemade. They’re the masterpieces of Sandy Evans, Mike’s wife and head bartender at the Maryland Inn in Annapolis—except for Friday nights, when she’s behind Snug Harbor’s bar.

Fine, full-plated desserts are another reason to bring along a friend as hungry as you are. You’re not going to want to say no, nor should you.

When you push yourself back from the table, you’ll know for sure you’ve dined the Bay way. And you’ll be feeling pretty good about the town of Shady Side.

to the top

Pluto's other name is Hades (the Unseen). In fact, Plutos official discovery as a planet wasn't until February 18, 1930.

Mythologically, Pluto is a son of the Titans Cronus and Rhea. You'll remember from last issue's Sky Facts that Cronus is otherwise known as Saturn, a son of Uranus—making Pluto the grandson of Uranus. Are you with me?

By a throw of the dice Pluto (Hades) won the distinction of ruling the underworld while his brothers Zeus and Poseidon took the earth and the sea. Pluto is depicted as stern, pitiless, forbidding and aloof—never quite emerging from the shadowy darkness of his realm.

to the top

Have you ever done rubbings? NO?

Take a large piece of paper and some crayons. Lay your paper over a hard surface with some texture(something that feels rough or bumpy). Now rub your crayon back and forth on the paper. Don’t rub too hard. See the pattern beginning to show up? Practice rubbing a lot of different textures like leaves, sidewalks, wood, stones, shingles, baskets, floors.

Have you ever done rubbings? YES?
Then you’re ready to make a texture drawing. Take a large piece of paper and some crayons or colored pencils and regular pencils. You’ll need a marker as well.

Draw a house and a sidewalk with a marker. Just for fun, I put my family in the windows. Can you guess which one is me?
Rub some leaves for bushes and trees. Since you don’t get sharp edges with rubbing, draw over the outlines afterwards. Notice that leaves are just like miniature trees. I used little fat leaves to make bushes.

Put each remaining section over a different texture and then rub with your pencil or crayon —markers don’t work well for rubbing. I tried grass rubbings but didn’t like the results so I wound up using rubbings of large flat stepping stones for the texture of my lawn. I like it, don’t you?

Experiment. Use your imagination. Try several drawings till you get the hang of it.

to the top

Canoeing by the Bay
by Mark Koenig

This summer, I joined three friends from Takoma Park on a three-day canoe trip on the Eastern Shore. It was great!

e canoed on Turner Creek, a stream that runs into the Sassafras River, which is north of Chestertown.

Three counselors from Echo Hill Canoe Trips were the guides for our group of several kids. We had great fun and great food.

The food ranged from watermelon and cantaloupe to sloppy Joes and pizza. The fun went from mudbaths to fishing.

Using seine nets, we caught grass shrimp, young perch, kilifish, silversides, a crawfish and a baby striped bass. Using the silversides as bait, we caught a lot of perch—including a few endangered yellow perch, which we released back into the river.

In low tide, we took a mudbath next to the creek and at high tide, we canoed to a good swimming hole!

My favorite activity was exploring the river by canoe. On the last day, we also played games like “rocks on land,” a game like “capture the flag”—and canoe whaling, where you turn over the canoe and try to stand on it for longer than any other kid.

After the trip ended, a van took us back to Chestertown, where our parents picked us up.

I thought the Bay, and Bay life, was beautiful. I think we really ought to preserve it.

Mark Koenig, 10, lives in Takoma Park, Maryland.

to the top



Use the pen to write 12 of the craziest fortunes you can think of on the small papers. Put them to one side—some place clean please.

Do you have permission? Get permission.

Line a 12-CUP MUFFIN TIN with paper muffin cups or oil the tin.



Do not overmix. It should be lumpy but with no dry spots.

Fill each muffin cup half-way with batter.

Put your wild and crazy fortunes on the batter.

Cover the fortunes with more batter but don't fill the cups all the way—the batter will puff up as it bakes.

Put the muffin tin on the middle rack of your oven for 20-25 minutes.

Your muffins are done when a knife stuck into the center of one comes out without any batter stuck to it.

Share, enjoy, laugh over the fortunes.

to the top