Volume 1 Issue 18 1993
December 15-28

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).

1993’s Big Bad Polluters • Where to Drink Maryland Beer • How to Brew Your Own • 1994 Previewed • Santa’s Confessions • Intercoastal Adventures • Burton on Bay Power

Villains and Heroes:
Who’s Who among environmental bad boys and good guys in 1993.

Small Beer on the Chesapeake

Bay-to-Gulf Log—Installment 2:
After what the Bay did to Stoweaway, her crew cried “Uncle! Let’s scurry to the Intercoastal ditch.”

Time’s Up:
Close the book on 1993 and open your 1994 calendar.

Bay Life
Dressing up like Santa is what some guys do for fun.

Dock of the Bay | Burton on the Bay | Editorial | Letters to the Editor | Commentary

Who's Here | Politalk | Not Just for Kids | Earth Journal

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Small Beer on the Chesapeake
by Elizabeth K. Morris

I first discovered Wild Goose Brewery when a friend (who claimed he was buying stock in micro-breweries and taking his dividends in beer) gave me a mixed case for Christmas. I’d been to brew pubs in Boston and sought out interesting micro-brews all over the country. That Christmas, I found I’d been missing treasures in my backyard. Since then I’ve discovered good micro-brews in number and variety throughout the Chesapeake area.

“Micro-brews are very much a rising phenomenon in the United States,” says Craig Stuart-Paul, managing director of the Oxford Brewing Company in Linthicum, Maryland. Micros gives people what they’re looking for: “more flavorful beers,” he explains.

Size Makes a Difference
Size makes the difference. Micro-breweries produce less than 15,000 barrels of beer a year (a barrel is about 31 gallons, or almost 14 cases), according to the Institute for Brewing Studies. Larger breweries, on the other hand, can produce millions of barrels a year.

No, it’s freshness, counters Jim Lutz, president of Wild Goose Brewery in Cambridge. “More and more Americans are finding out that beer is better the fresher it is,” he says. Micro-brewed beer also usually contains fewer (or no) additives—just grains, yeast, hops and water, plus such flavorings as fruits or spices.

Micro-brewed beers served unpasteurized or hand-pumped without additional carbonation or at cellar temperature can be a big taste change from commercial American beers.

Back to Neighborhood Brews
Back in Grandpa’s day, you and your beer grew up in the same neighborhood. Immigrants—especially German and Eastern European—found their brewing recipes and drinking habits crossed the Atlantic easily. Breweries and tap houses were as common as corner groceries in some cities. Only in modern times—after World War II’s great era of consolidation—have a few giants dominated.

Baltimore’s brewing history stretches back to the 18th century. (Our water is “very good for brewing,” claims Bill Oliver of the Wharf Rat.) Once it almost rivaled Milwaukee for beer production. Now Baltimore and the Chesapeake region—like most American cities and many towns—are enjoying a brewing renaissance. Once again, local beer-drinkers can quaff a brew made close to home—maybe in the next town over, maybe by their next door neighbor.

The first micro brewery in the state, Oxford Brewing Company, opened in 1988. As Craig Stuart-Paul says, “We saw a niche and we filled it.” A year later came Wild Goose Brewery in Cambridge, followed this summer by the Frederick Brewing Company in Frederick. In early 1994, McHenry’s hopes to open in Baltimore.

Beers for All Seasons
The Oxford Brewing Company (which began business as the British Brewing Company) produces about 3500 barrels of beer a year from their industrial park location in Linthicum. Oxford’s flagship brew is its Oxford Class, a “best bitters” style. For summer Raspberry Wheat beer was brewed, and for fall a Cherry Porter. This season’s special is Santa Class Christmas beer.

“We probably won’t do Raspberry Wheat again,” says Oxford’s brewer, Dan Carter. “It was a pain to filter.” Most of the seasonal and specialty beers are the work of Carter, who was a home-brewer for five years before joining the micro-revolution, first with Virginia’s Old Dominion Brewing and then with Oxford. As well as brewing for a over a thousand restaurants statewide, Oxford also brews on contract; for example, they brew Eleanor’s Amber Ale for the Capitol City Brewing Company.

Over on the Eastern Shore at Cambridge, Wild Goose was begun by a group of investors who recognized two faces of opportunity: the micro-brew fad and an affluent, well-traveled metropolitan population. The early years were rough, but now they’re brewing about 7000 barrels a year and can’t produce fast enough to satisfy their distributors, who market their beer, Lutz says, “up and down the East Coast. In Maryland, you’ll find our beers in most liquor stores and some restaurants.” New fermentation tanks in an enlarged brewery space will almost double their output.

Wild Goose’s fall Porter runs out just in time for the second year of their Snow Goose Winter Ale. Other standards are their Wild Goose Amber Ale (their flagship brew) and their Thomas Point Golden Ale (named after the Chesapeake’s Thomas Point Lighthouse). Last year they did a spring wheat beer; president Jim Lutz hopes to try more seasonal varieties. Tours of the breweries are also popular, drawing one or two hundred people per week in the summer.

President Kevin Brannon of the new Frederick Brewing Company moved to Maryland from Portland, Oregon (a city well-known for its micro-brewing industry) and was, as his wife and vice-president Marjorie McGinnis says, “used to having good beer available to him at all times.” The partners met their brewer, Steve Nordahl, at a micro-brewers conference, and he brewed his test batches in their basement in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.

In October they started producing their Golden Ale locally, after several months of contract-brewing it elsewhere. They also have an Amber lager and a porter, and have just kegged a Cranberry Noel, one of a number of planned seasonal specialties. Frederick is set up to brew about 3500 barrels a year, but McGinnis figures they’ll need to expand soon.

When McHenry’s opens, it will bring “traditional American beer styles” back to Baltimore. Marty Johnson, brewer and owner, hopes to produce their flagship brew, Chesapeake Cream Ale, by early next year.

Small Beers On Premises
Baltimore already boasts three brew-pubs, each with its distinctive style. As Hugh Sisson—owner of the city’s oldest brew-pub—says: “Mass market beers are all essentially the same and essentially bland. People are opting for more adventurous, spicy food, and likewise more adventurous beers.”

Sisson’s, Baltimore’s first to jump on the beer wagon, had been around for 15 years offering beer tastings and an increasingly large selection of imported beers. Ten years ago, Al and Hugh Sisson recognized the market for a brew pub. Four years ago they opened their brewery. Last year, they brewed 90-94 percent of their beer sales. Sisson’s, says Hugh, is committed to serving assertive beers “loaded with personality and absolutely, without a doubt, not for the timid.”

Beers here are eclectic but all suitable to the restaurant’s Cajun and Creole cuisine, for Sisson’s Hugh says he is “a firm believer that beer should accompany food.”

Theo de Groen at Baltimore Brewing Company concentrates on German-style beers such as Marzen (an Oktoberfest style), Pils and Weizen (a wheat beer), even importing some of his hops from German and Czechoslovakia. The Baltimore Brewing Company also serves a German-influenced menu in its open, airy beer-hall.

De Groen comes from a family of brewers and finally “succumbed” to the family business. But he longed for independence, so in Baltimore he bought an old food warehouse on the site of one of Baltimore’s oldest breweries for his Baltimore Brewing Company. This year they brewed 1400 barrels, a 30 percent increase over 1992, says brewer Bill Covaleski, another home-brewer turned professional. “We have re-introduced some styles of beer that people in this city haven’t experienced,” Covaleski adds.

The Wharf Rat, near the Inner Harbor, is the new kid on the brew pub block in Baltimore. Brewing begun in February, with nearly 700 barrels brewed this year. Their sales have been good: on All Star Tuesday, they sold about 4000 pints, reckons Bill Oliver, who also owns an older Wharf Rat in Fell’s Point. Both Rats serve a variety of English style ales and stouts, accompanied by hearty English pub food. The Rat on Pratt is a cozy brick building with a pool room and the open brewery right off the dining room. “Don’t be surprised to find a little grain dust on your table,” jokes Oliver.

Where to Try Them
The Wharf Rat has locations in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor (410/244-8900) and Fell’s Point (410/276-9034), which both serve draft selections from the brewery at the Pratt Street location.

Nearby is the Baltimore Brewing Company, (410/837-5000) which serves its beers on draft or in bottles to go. Sisson’s (410/539-2093), near Federal Hill, also has their brews on draft and will draw you one of their “growlers” (a glass jug that you can buy and then bring back for cheaper refills).

Micro beers are available throughout the region. For example, try Oxford Brewing Company (410/789-0003) drafts at the Capitol City Brewing Company in DC and the Rams Head in Annapolis, as well as several locations in Fell’s Point. Beers from Wild Goose Brewery (410/221-1121) are sold on draft at Middleton’s in Annapolis among other sites, and in bottles at some specialty beer and wine stores. Beers from the Frederick Brewing Company (301/694-7899) are available at The Horse You Came In On and Ledbetter’s in Fell’s Point; the Rams Head in Annapolis; Tony and Joe’s in Georgetown; and in bottles at specialty shops.

Tired of swallowing the same old swill?

Or maybe you’re fed up with paying top dollar for beer that tastes like water?

Perhaps you’re sick of subsidizing those obnoxious beer-war commercials bombarding the air-waves?

If you nodded your head to any of these questions, or you’re just looking for a new hobby, here’s a solution.


If you’ve got access to a stove and as little as $50 to invest in equipment and supplies, you can start brewing your own beer in your own kitchen — tonight.

Is it legal?
You bet your hops. As long as you’re at least 21 years old, don’t plan to brew in excess of 100 gallons per year, and don’t attempt to sell your “product.” As long as you don’t cross these lines, the law won’t cross yours.

Is it easy?
Well, look at it this way. If you can open a can of condensed soup, measure the proper amount of water or milk, and cook it without burning down your kitchen, odds are good that with a little time, you might enjoy the title “brewmeister.”

It wasn’t always so easy. Early humans had to find fresh ingredients, such as grain, malt, barley and hops, to more easily release their flavors when boiled in water.

Nowadays, all but the most enthusiastic brewers buy these essential ingredients pre-measured, mixed and in a heavy concentrated syrup packaged in a tin can.

You may stumble upon an all-in-one beer kits, which is nothing more than a hanging plastic pouch. Just add water and three weeks later, voila! But these kits are sold in the Sharper Image catalog, so how good can they be?

This is not the stuff.

What you’ll want is a starter kit, sold at any home-brew supply shop, for anywhere between $25 and $50. Depending on price, these kits include a plastic carboy—a large container within which to ferment your brew—a capper—to cap the beer once bottled—sterilizing solution and tubes and hoses to keep the beer flowing from one stage to the next.

A beginner’s kit is invaluable for homebrewing. It’s a one-time investment, although once hooked you may want to upgrade to a glass carboy, which is easier to sterilize and more aesthetically pleasing.

You may also want to pick up a book. The recently revised Complete Joy of Homebrewing, by Charlie Papazian, is considered the brewer’s bible. It includes step-by-step instructions, recipes, is generally well-written and amusing and costs under $10.

Your first one or two cans of ingredients will set you back between $15 and $30, depending on what sort of beer you want to make. That’s the cost of a case of either domestic or imported beer. Your first batch will most likely produce between 40 and 50 pints (well in excess of two cases) of brew that tastes at least as good as any beer you can buy in a liquor store.

Why isn’t everyone brewing their own beer?

In the past, most people did brew their own. There weren’t liquor stores on every block, and even if there were, most people couldn’t afford them. Immigrants brewed beers from their mother countries that were handed down through the generations. Neighboring regions had distinctly different beers.

Then in 1920, prohibition outlawed alcohol, and all breweries were shut down. During these years more people brewed their own beer than ever before. Even after prohibition’s repeal in 1933, homebrewing remained technically illegal for decades. This—combined with the resurgence of major breweries, the homogenization of America, and the convenience of mass-produced beer—quickly left homebrewing a forgotten joy.

Today, as Americans search for better tasting beers, homebrewing once again has come of age.

Here are a few area homebrewing supply shops to help get you started. Because many of these are cottage industries operated out of the home (or garage), it’s wise to call first.

Now go get brewing.

  • Beer & Wine Hobby Shoppe—Arnold: 410/268-3317
  • Bowie Homebrew Supply—Bowie: 301/249-8040
  • The Brew Pot—Bowie: 301/805-8473; 301/341-2443
  • Maryland Homebrew—Columbia: 410/290-376
  • Aspen Hill Beer & Wine—Wheaton: 301/460-3300

There are only a few basic steps to brewing beer:
1. Sterilize all containers, utensils and anything else your beer will contact.
2. Mix and cook the ingredients for an hour or two, depending on the style of beer,
3. Cool the “wort”—the term for the mixture at this stage—to room temperature before adding the yeast, which begins the initial fermentation.
4. Let the mixture stand and ferment in its carboy for two weeks.
5. Add corn sugar dissolved in hot water to begin the second stage of fermentation.
6. Bottle: No kits include bottles, so you'll have to empty a few—at least 40—while you wait on your beer. Grolsch bottles with the resealable wire top are ideal and will save you the hassle of capping.
7. Wait a week or two till it’s ready to drink.
8. Bottoms up!

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The Stoweaway’s Bay-to-Gulf Log, Installment 2:
In which our intrepid travelers report a close encounter with a freighter, and the captain jumps ship.
by Adam Smith, Special to New Bay Times

REEDVILLE, Va—Breezy, clear and cool. After refueling at Buzzard’s Marina, we venture to an anchorage that’s quiet and safe—a change from our shakedown cruise (more like a shakedown jaunt) to and from Annapolis.

On that shakedown, we had set off in a fresh breeze from Point Lookout Marina just off the lower Potomac in Smith’s Creek, venturing around Point Lookout and then north to Annapolis.

That first Friday night was calm and serene with a fresh southern wind bringing us to Annapolis by teatime Saturday. There we were welcomed by friends, family and the Ram’s Head Pub, so Sunday morning brought a late start .

We sailed well with a southwest wind and tacked across the Bay (and shipping lanes) until dusk. Though exhausted from the night before and our full day’s sail, we continued back towards Point Lookout Marina for minor repairs, phone calls and last good-byes. Nightfall taxed our patience and our navigational skills, but we sailed on. As the winds (now 20-25 knots) shifted to due south and the waves began to crest at four to five feet, we wondered if the little headway we were making would even get us to Cove Point near Calvert’s famous cliffs.

Freighter Dead Ahead; Radio Just Dead
About 2am, a freighter was sighted off to starboard. Simultaneously, the radio went dead and the engine (Emily by name) blew a freeze plug. I set to task with a now-deformed plug and a length of 3/8-inch hose, managing to stop the compression leak while Darin and John hoisted the main and illuminated it with a flashlight.

Now our white flag of defeat stood alone in the shipping lane. Alone until the freighter swung ’round for closer look.

Darin, the guy with enviable good-luck genes, was in crisis mode. This worried me. I finished the sketchy diesel repairs and with John’s help got Emily started. As John returned to the chart to plot a course well away from the freighter, Stowe—our captain, boat owner and financial supporter—had a very quiet nervous breakdown and went to sleep.

The freighter turned off at the last minute, the engine ran on through the night and we moored safely after 27 sleepless and tense hours.

Goodbye to the Captain
The next day and much to our surprise Stowe—captain, owner and financial supporter—gave control of the modified Cal 29 to Darin. He was not going to risk his life and sanity for a trip down the waterway and told us to take her as far south as possible.

“How will I cook for three?” I mused.

Next day, sans Stowe Teti, sans cellular phone, sans a size-small foul weather jacket, the remaining three—John, Darin and I— left quietly for “more and warmer places.”

So far it has been a joy. Cruising down the Intercoastal Waterway, we found Reedville where we spoke to Fred Hixon about the fishing museum and the additional waterfront going up in stages. He gave us water and waterway strategy and a friendly voice in a very cold, quiet but elegant little town.

Two days at anchor gave us impetus to venture south to Willoughby Bay outside Norfolk. An incidental grounding indicated that the anchorage was too shallow so we went deeper. With 30 feet of chain and a little nylon line, we rode out the fresh breeze all night.

Next morning we refuelled—topped of actually. Emily uses less than 1/2 gallon of fuel per hour—and proceeded to the Naval Shipyard, where big naval-grey ships of all species dotted the port and we—as we suspect would most Americans regardless of political temperament—found ourselves awed at the amassed protection that floats.

On through Norfolk, we had fair winds and set the main for some of the trip. The engine ticked on beautifully through swells and cold spray. Though we must hand crank her every morning, I think the karmic exchange of energies has solidifed our trust in one another.

As we pass bridge after bridge and the occasional lock in crisp November elegance, I can’t help but feel that Stowe is missing something. We’re not stressing, though.

BOXED inset
The Intercoastal Waterway begins at the Annisquam River, 26 miles northeast of Boston, and winds south to Key West, Florida. The Chesapeake Bay is linked to the Waterway by its open mouth at the south and to the north, through its Elk River arm, by the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal.

During World War II, a corps of engineers from the U.S. Army and Coast Guard built the many cuts to connect natural bodies of water and provide a safe passageway for supplies along the coast. The waterway is usually at least 12 feet deep but changes with tides and winds.

— Christine Yotko

Sidebar 2:
Captain’s Log 29 November 1993
Port of Departure: Stono River, SC; Time of Departure: 7:30am

Port of Arrival: Seabrook Island, SC; Time of Arrival: 5:30pm

Weather Conditions: sunny and cool

Wave Height: poo-poo

Wind Speed: SW 5-10 knots

Events to Remember:
•Oatmeal with apples, beautiful sunrise, very cold 38°
•Score: Rossa Lee Parker 1, Stoweaway 0

We’re at the John F. Limehouse swingbridge at 8:08am. By 8:20, five boats are circling in the current, waiting for the bridge to open.

At 8:28 the transmission fails and Stoweaway is swept into the unopened bridge. Bridgekeeper Rossa Lee Parker opens the bridge unmindful of shouts, radio calls and horn tootings from all boats in the vicinity or a mast in her way. John F. Limehouse bridge eats Stoweaway’s mast and, meal complete, closes jaws. Rossa Lee Parker is still unaware that there is a mast on the bridge and that the motorcraft Stoweaway is still under the bridge!

By a stroke of luck, Seataw arrives on the scene and pulls the mast undigested from the bowels of the bridge. Adam repairs the transmission and the crew continues, slightly daunted.

Later, The Dreamer out of Norfolk hails, “Where’s your sticks?” Adam takes two Excedrin, three peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and looks in vain for cold beer.

Crew is unsure where to hang anchor lights and sleeping bags tonight—starboard conning seats are occupied by mast. Crew resolves: No more character-building experiences are needed.

— Darin Linebaugh, Captain

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1993’s Top Environmental Bad Boys—and Good Guys
by Hannah Nordhaus, AlterNet

The Council on Economic Priorities recently released its annual
list of the corporations that rank as the nation’s 10 worst environmental offenders. The Council’s Campaign for Cleaner Corporations selects its list of corporate bad boys in the hopes that consumer pressure and unwanted negative attention will hold U.S. companies more accountable for their environmental impact.

To be selected, companies had to meet several standards:
• laggardly or nonexistent efforts to comply with environmental regulations;
• failure to disclose levels of toxic and greenhouse emissions; • general lack of interest in the well-being of their customers and employees.

High on the list—
• paper giants Louisiana-Pacific, MAXXAM and International Paper Companies for their history of toxic releases, irresponsible timber-cutting, and various violations of environmental or worker safety regulations;

• DuPont, for its glacial progress in reducing and disclosing its toxic releases despite its role as the nation’s largest emitter of toxic chemicals;

• the ever-brown General Electric, whose nuclear reactors constitute 33 percent of all nuclear plants in the country, but 70 percent of all domestic “Nuclear Lemon” reactors—and who refuses to market their energy-efficient lightbulbs more aggressively for fear of disrupting the market share of their staple incandescent bulbs; • Exxon, for continually dragging its feet and reneging on its responsibilities in the Valdez cleanup;

• Texaco for its history of petrochemical and fuel spills and its record of environmental neglect in its Ecuadorian drilling operations; • Commonwealth Edison and Texas Utilities, for their egregious records on air pollution.

• Rockwell, a perennial visitor to the C3 list, paid only $18.5 million (a number many find suspiciously low) for felony environmental violations in its Rocky Flats nuclear weapons complex in Colorado, and refused to assist in the cleanup after the expiration of its contract to operate Rocky Flats.

Rockwell has also consistently evaded requests for disclosure of information, compounding its protracted history of disrespect for the notion of public accountability.

Knowledge is Power
The Council for Economic Priorities report does more than point fingers at the corporations who violate our right to breathe clean air and leave clean and abundant resources to our children. The notion behind the study is market and corporate image-driven: by directing consumer attention to the companies who sacrifice the quality of consumers’ lives in the name of profitability, the council hopes to make it expedient for the corporations to clean up their acts.

Last year, thousands of calls and letters poured in to the offending corporations. Among the activist and consumer groups who have asked their members to participate in campaigns against the listed companies are Working Assets Long Distance, which will encourage its 60,000 subscribers to make free long-distance phone calls to the unfortunate corporation-of-the-month; 20/20 vision, whose 17,000 members will spend 20 minutes a month writing letters to the selected companies; and Rainforest Action Network, which is stepping up its campaign to make Texaco more accountable for its irresponsible actions in the Amazon.

Of the eight companies listed on last year’s list, seven (all except Rockwell) consulted with the council and the judges as to how they could implement measurable environmental reforms. Four companies from 1992 escaped the list because of genuine motions toward improvement in their environmental performance.

Cargill, which is involved with chemical manufacturing, has made a commitment towards preventing phosphoric acid spills and issuing annual environmental reports (a move which, for a large privately held company, is unprecedented). General Motors, under new management, has joined up with the Clinton administration, the defense labs and other car makers to develop a super-efficient car and has endorsed the new gasoline tax. Georgia-Pacific has chosen a former EPA administrator as its chief environmental officer and has committed to an annual environmental report and increased public disclosure.

USX has also disclosed a significant amount of information after having a history of rather secretive management practices, and recently won a Department of Labor award for worker safety. It has also begun to shift production to its less-polluting facilities in order to reduce its toxic releases.

If a corporation is taken off list, does that necessarily mean that the company is now “green”? The offend corporations are chosen from industries that have a history of environmental pollution and neglect—electric utilities, chemicals, oil, electric equipment, aerospace, and automotive—enterprises which, by nature, would have a hard time ever reducing their pollution levels to those of, say, an organic farm. Oil companies will always have to contend with the possibilities of oil spills; chemical companies will always have to concern themselves with toxic emissions.

But until the essential nature of consumer demand for the product itself is altered, through market-driven incentives or government regulation, these companies have a responsibility to cleave to a certain degree of standards that are accepted at a minimum within their industry.

“Companies have to see themselves less as providing a product than as providing a service,” says Kenneth Scott, a researcher who helped prepare the report.

Good Guys
The Council also gives out its annual Corporate Conscience Awards to companies that, through their environmental stewardship, have proven that they take a larger approach to their role in society than simply maximizing their profits. This year’s winners were Digital Electronics and Aveda, in the smaller company category.

Other winners in past years include Smith and Hawken, Church and Dwight (the makers of Arm & Hammer baking soda), and Marcal paper.

Unique in the paper industry—a product that is inherently incompatible with the well-being of the forests and the ecosystems around the mills—Marcal uses only recycled pre-consumer and post-consumer waste products. Trucks show up at the factory full of already processed wood pulp and recycled goods, instead of the whole trees that traditional manufacturers grind into paper. They also recycle their water in order to assure less contamination of neighboring watersheds. They can create paper with up to 60 percent post-consumer waste, with no chorine bleaching process and a level of quality that is indistinguishable from products made from virgin timber.

In an age when resources are scarcer, after years of disregarding the consequences of waste and pollution have caught up with us, consumers are beginning to care about not only their end-product, but also the means which delivered them to the market.

“People don’t want a tree to be chopped down and loaded up with chlorine just so they can wipe their butts,” says researcher Scott. “People don’t want to think about an entire barrel of oil being extracted and burned, emitting all sorts of carbon dioxide and pollutants, just to power a piece of metal that gets them from one place to another.”

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Out with the Old: It’s Time to Choose 1994’s Calendar
Liz Zylwitis reviews a baker’s dozen of regional and environmental calendars

What can you find to brighten up your walls in 1994? A good calendar. From postcards to recipes, this baker’s dozen of local and environmental calendars suggests the better question is, “What can’t you find?”

The whos and whats of Maryland, Washington D.C. and Virginia are illustrated in Photri Laser Art’s three-part collection. On the practical side, you’ll find handy maps of time zones, area codes and metro routes. On the aesthetic side, you’ll find light as well used as distinctive places in this photographic calendar: autumn leaves and summer sunsets look their best in this very glossy trio. ($6 each at local bookstores.)

Let’s make a day of it. Six hundred special events superimposed on a grid calendar, black and white photographs of some highlights handpainted with oils and watercolors plus fingertip guides make the 1994 Mid-Atlantic Weekender’s Calendar a sure success. Favorite, familiar places take on a nostalgic flavor that make you want to visit. Call 603/433-4775 for the store location nearest you or mail your order to Kanin Press, PO Box 1174, Portsmouth, NH 03802. ($11.95 plus $3.50 shipping and handling.)

Painstaking attention to detail, bright colors and good humor make enid romanek’s d.c. doings an original. Pencil sketches show our nation’s capitol through the artist’s eyes. What’s doing there is presented in comprehensive lists of arts and crafts fairs, farmer’s markets, bicycling, boating and camping. Find d.c. doings at local bookstores or mail your order to Enid Romanek, DC Doings, 921 Sligo Creek Parkway, Takoma Park, MD 20912. ($10.95.)

Maryland’s Rare and Endangered Species and Habitats: The Maryland Natural Heritage Program 1994 Calendar. Here are a dozen Maryland natives, from the tricolored heron to Price’s Cave Isopod—who could make November 1994 a very weird month. Each month’s illustration is complemented with a full description of what the corresponding piece of nature means to our state. Get educated. Get your calender by calling 410/974-2870 or by sending a check to DNR, Md. Natural Heritage Program, Tawes State Office Bldg., E1, Annapolis, MD 21401. ($5.00.)

Accompanying Stephen R. Brown’s gentle, rustic photographs in The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s 1994 Save the Bay Calendar are helpful preservation hints. Among the information you’ll get with your calendar are how to join the foundation and how very much water your garden hose uses in an hour—375 gallons! Get your copy by calling Save the Bay Shop at: 410/268-8832 or sending an order to Save the Bay Shop, 188 Main Street, Annapolis, MD 21401. ($8.95.)

The Chesapeake Bay: Watermen 1994 Calendar includes daily tide predictions for Baltimore and Norfolk and 12 authentic Chesapeake recipes, like Smith Island Cinnamon Peach Cake. Reflective scenes follow watermen through their day. Different colors and types set off the information. You can pick up a copy at local bookstores for $9.95.

Nature is magnified in WaterWatch: National Geographic’s 1994 Children’s Calendar. You see every drop of water February’s moose shakes off, every crease in April’s alligator and every whisker on June’s river otters. Spectacular color, stickers and rhymes make this calendar fun and exciting. Such tips as “A shower uses much less water than a tub. So take short showers when you rub-a-dub-dub” make it educational. On sale this month for $4 at the Society’s Gift Shop at 17th and M in Washington.

Wildlife of the World 1994 Calendar asks, “What’s not to love about these critters?” Between their panda cover and December’s wolf are the koala, penguins, fish, gorillas, a butterfly, zebras, tiger lily, too. With loads of information and several pictures for each month, you’ll look long and lots at this calendar. $10.99 at local bookstores.

The year’s most eye-catching pictures come in Audubon Society’s Nature Calendar1994. From a lone leaf to a mountain landscape, this nature lover’s panarama is powerful. Choose from several formats and themes: nature, wildflower, wild animal, and wild bird. (Buy at local bookstores for $10.95.)

Remember the stippling effect (all those fine dots) from high school art class? You’ll find that plus texture, dimension, shading and local color in Southern Anne Arundel County: Familiar Scenes 1994. Shady Side Rural Heritage and Galesville Heritage Societies selected artwork from only local artists for this calendar, their latest venture. Included are Pam Tittle’s depiction of the West River Market, Richard Twomey’s, “Captain Salem Avery House Museum,” and Pat Crandall’s “A Fish Fry at Lula Scott,” and much more. On sale now at the Cptn. Salem Avery Museum Gift Shop, for $7.50.

The best I’ve saved for last. Children’s author Graeme Base’s Sign of the Seahorse 1994 Calendar is bound to please children of all ages. The art of personification combines with vivid color to give marine life fantastic personality and sharp style. ($10.95 at local bookstores.)

To start your year on a good note or to give as a calendar as a gift, make your 1994 calendar a local or environmental one.

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Peril on the Bay
Exactly one year after another Bay tragedy, the death of three passengers after El Toro II foundered in stormy seas offers a grim reminder of winter dangers on the Chesapeake.

It will be months before the Coast Guard issues a formal report that determines whether human error contributed to the fishing accident. By then, the air is likely to be balmy once more and the water warm.

But while this tragic mishap is fresh in our minds, we ought to take note of the extreme caution needed in winter months by boaters, hunters, kayakers, canoeists and all of us who never come in from the Bay.

Clayton S. Lore, captain of El Toro II, has a reputation as an experienced skipper who doesn’t risk the safety of passengers. Nonetheless, he admitted at a Coast Guard hearing this month that in haste to motor from Maryland to prime fishing grounds in Virginia, he ignored weather reports that held clues about the approaching storm. Three days before the disaster, an insurance inspector had branded El Toro II as what “may be the worst Coast Guard-inspected boat I have seen.” But Lore hadn’t yet received the damning report.

From most accounts, the calm on that morning of Dec. 5 belied the brewing storm. Lore had no inkling that he could be tangling with eight-foot seas and 35-knot winds.

But boaters on the Bay should know of her changing ways: how fierce, localized storms can spring up with little warning.

That was the case precisely one year earlier, on Dec. 5, 1992, when Philippe Voss, 41, pushed off in his kayak from his home in Annapolis to paddle to the Eastern Shore. Voss, a popular Frenchman with a devil-may-care attitude, probably didn’t bother checking weather reports.

Four weeks later, Voss’s body washed up on the beach near Kentmoor Marina on the Eastern Shore.

In winter weather, hypothermia—rapid loss of body heat—often is blamed for water fatalities. But as the Bay’s temperature dips, the greatest danger is cold shock. Indeed, you must survive cold shock in order to worry about hypothermia.

Passengers of the sinking El Toro II plunged into 51-degree water, bobbing for nearly two hours until rescue vessels arrived.

Had the water temperature been much colder, chances are that more of the 23 on board would have perished.

When the body enters cold water, serious and uncontrollable things can happen, beginning with a gasp.

“As soon as you hit the water, the skin sends the message to the brain that there is something terribly wrong,” said Ron Casterline, who operates Annapolis Coastal Kayaking.

If you gasp when submerged, taking in ice water reduces your chance for survival. After the gasp comes hyperventilation—a breathing rate four or five times faster than normal. But oddly, you have the feeling that you can’t get enough air.

Breathing so quickly can reduce the flow of blood to the brain, which causes confusion, dizziness and possibly loss of consciousness. Or panic can set in, further diminishing the chance that you can rescue yourself or last long enough to be rescued.

“If you’re not prepared to swim, you shouldn’t be out there in the first place,” observed Casterline.

We shouldn’t need the horrible misfortune of El Toro II—or the Coast Guard—to remind us not to venture out in cold water without proper equipment, know-how and common sense.

We’ve learned another lesson, too: Stay out of the Bay on St. Nicholas Day.

(Learn survival skills from sea kayak experts at the free, 4th annual Cold Water Clinic, sponsored by the Annapolis Kayaking Center, on Jan. 16, 10-2, at the Mai Kai Dock Bar, off of Rte. 2 in Edgewater.)

Wind Hotline
You don’t have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows, Bob Dylan observed.

Just dial up the Wind Hotline.

For $40 a year and 85 cents a call (charged to your credit card so no one at work need know your addiction to the wind), you can always know which way, and how hard, the wind blows at your choice of 10 regions from North Carolina to the Great Lakes.

Wind Hotline’s 60 weather stations include five on the Chesapeake Bay: from north to south, Gunpowder Falls State Park; Rocky Point; Sandy Point State Park; Kent Island; and Point Lookout.

Right now, 99 percent of Wind Hotline’s customers are windsurfers who, like entrepreneurial owner Phil Atkinson, got fed up with “wasting a day driving around looking for wind.” Chesapeake Winds are notoriously changeable, so a dedicated surfer might have to cover a lot of miles before finding the right wind.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration—the weather service—and researchers make up most of the other one percent. Nowadays they get a little company from the Olympic Yachting Committee, who contract with the Wind Hotline to monitor Savannah’s winds.

The Wind Hotline—“the only service that operates its own weather stations … where you want them”—sets up waterside, wind-meter-topped poles and equips them with its own computer linkages, so it’s never more than five minutes short of the latest wind. This hotline is so exact and reliable that the Coast Guard relies on it for wind news.

(For an enthusiastic recorded description of the Wind Hotline’s wonders, call 800/765-4253.)

Green Holiday Planner
Sierra Club, the environmental advocates, offer these suggestions for a green Christmas:

  • Buy a live Christmas tree that can be planted later or purchase a cut tree grown organically without pesticides. And after the holidays, find a program that turns trees into mulch or chips;

  • Use energy-saving Christmas lights, eat a meal or two by candlelight and cut down on driving by shopping with a friend;

  • Instead of useless gifts, give a donation in someone’s name to a worthy organization;

  • For wrapping, use recycled paper or last year’s. Same with holiday cards.

  • Donate toys and clothes to programs collecting them. Try the Salvation Army at 800/637-5588;

  • Make a resolution to protect the planet by doing something different next year, perhaps carpooling a day or two each week, recycling yard clippings or writing letters to government officials.

Way Downstream...
In Oregon, they’re making wise use of lottery proceeds. State fish and water experts pried away $5 million from lottery proceeds to begin restoring streams in the Rogue River basin in hopes of reviving salmon and steelhead fish populations.

Hmmm. Might keno be the answer to oyster restoration in Maryland?...

In Maine, fish are showing they have more than protein to offer. Eastern Mussel Farm in the town of Tenants Harbor has begun using fish oil rather than petroleum to run its motorized packing system. Eastern is the first of six companies that will be using non-toxic, biodegradable fish oil for power...

Tired of crime, pollution and bad stuff in general? A company in Arlington Heights, Illinois may have just what you need—a gargoyle. That’s right, take a lesson from ancient times and gird yourself with your own personal gargoyle statue to ward off evil. For information, phone Design Toscano: 800/525-1733, x B471.

In Florida, politics might get interesting next year. Jimmy Buffet, that rock-singing, book-writing, boat-loving fellow, is being mentioned as a challenger next year to U.S. Sen. Connie Mack, the incumbent Republican. Besides writing laid-back songs, Buffet founded the Save the Manatee Club.

Maybe they’ll debate in Margaritaville...

Our Creature Feature this week also comes from Florida, from an island where the rich and the pooch have definitely clashed. At exclusive Indian Creek, the city council voted this month to outlaw several breeds of dogs: German shepherds; Dobermans; Rottweilers; American pit bull terriers; Staffordshire terriers; and Staffordshire bull terriers.

These breeds, town leaders say, are known for their tendency “to bark, snarl and generally scare the daylights out of people.”

Of course, such a ban may turn out to be illegal, and so might another new feature in Indian Creek. From here on out, Indian Creek, pop. 44, must regularly conduct a dog census.

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Holiday Season: Time to Get a Grip
We heard this radio ad a few moments ago: “Any day now, you’re going to realize that the holiday season is upon us, and panic will set in.”

How silly. And unhealthy.

Holiday season is the time to slow down. Get our balance. Make sense of the goings-on around us.

That isn’t easy, given tragedies and unsettled times, desperate people and general confusion.

In a brief time, we saw the Bay claim three lives in a fishing tragedy. We have seen a surge of crime by people with pistols in our Bay’s small towns and strip malls.

We watched a million of our neighbors in Washington, supposedly the cradle of solutions, unable to drink their own water.

Even our leisure gets confused with all the talk of football teams coming, going and moving.

If things seem out of control, they probably are.

Holidays can help. Holidays are about balance, not about panic. They are about collecting family strength—not frittering it away in traffic and malls. They are about stepping out of the maddening flow and getting a firmer footing.

They are about looking inward as well as outward to figure how things might work a little smoother.

Not just for a day or two and an eve but for stretches of days and weeks.

We’re speaking here of a holiday state of mind that—if properly and diligently pursued—might help answer such basic questions as “Why do I seem to be pedaling faster but not going as far?”

We at New Bay Times don’t have any magic solutions. But as we approach our first anniversary, we plan to continue offering you little hints that can help. We’ll keep talking to smart folks for tips on eating, exercise, boating and general fun. We’ll keep looking out for the Bay’s health and your inalienable right to clean air, pure water and unspoiled land.

For the holidays and beyond, we will give you advice that we think is born of good sense. In turn, we invite you to share your ideas with us and New Bay Times’ 30,000 readers in your letters, articles and phone calls.

And yes, we intend to slow down this holiday season so that we can retain our own balance and continue bringing you tips that ease you and stories that please you.

Who Do They Think They Are?
I was soaking up the Bay one frosty morning in my first spring in Fairhaven, etching a new mood in my memory, when the Department of Natural Resources police invaded the beach.

The two officers were polite and well meaning, but what they were doing was a public nuisance. Out of their truck on the cliff, they hauled two ugly metal posts of the kind we see all too often on roads holding up would-be behavior modification signs that nobody pays attention to. Along with the posts, they had signs and equipment to install them.

Their signs warned against shell fishing in the shallows of Herring Bay, where families have been catching their crabs for generations.

“You’re not going to put up those eye-sores on the beach?” I asked, amazed. A brisk wind was scooting buttermilk clouds across the blue sky; low whitecaps were dancing. The tide line was littered with sea squirts, and gulls who didn’t give a hoot for politeness were shouting at the morning. It was, in a word, one more shot at the most beautiful morning ever made.

My protests went unheeded. When I returned that evening, staring at me, ugly as could be were side-by-side reinforced metal signs, anchored in the innocent sand, warning us off our waters.

They didn’t last the week. I found them a morning or two later, twisted like ribbon candy, discarded in the brush. I never did learn who dug them out. them out. Whoever it was must have been real strong. Very determined. And outraged.

Now, I don’t know what we’re going to do about the new weather station on the Franklin Gibson Road, about a mile south of Rte. 256.

We all saw utility-type trucks on the road in the mornings. But we tried not to notice them because this twisty, hilltop stretch of Franklin Gibson is one of the most beautiful roads in Maryland—and too much has been going on there lately. Still, when we saw the pole, we felt something of the amazed horror our English cousins felt in H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds when they found the Martian ship had landed.

Tall as a utility pole, this spacey silver upstart stands eleven feet from the road, outside the county’s five-foot easement. Fortified with well-cased electronics, it’s linked by umbilical cables to some far-distant mastermind. At its summit, an undersized wind meter whirls like the pinwheel on some gawky kid’s beanie.

Whoever it belongs to—and it’s not the National Weather Service or the privately owned Wind Hotline—it’s not of this world. Once again, we’ve been invaded.

Probably these invaders, whoever they are, have come to Franklin Gibson Road for good reason. No doubt, they’re doing important work. What do you want to bet, if we were ever to meet them they’d probably politely explain that whatever they’re up to is good for us, too?

I don’t care.

What I want to know is, who do they think they are?

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Repair for Long Life
Dear New Bay Times:
I wanted you to know that the Annapolis area has a half dozen good electronics repair shops, many of them home businesses to keep costs down. Most of us specialize in a couple of services because you can’t get good on everything. With good repairs, your televisions and VCRs can last 10 to 13 years, so don’t throw them away when they break. The average repair costs only $60 to $80—a lot less than a new machine.

Bob Sickmen, Parole TV and Video Repair, Annapolis

Benedict—not Bladensburg!
Dear New Bay Times:
I’m a weekend neighbor of yours in Deale Beach who’s stuck on your paper. I read every word. I’m also very concerned about historical accuracy, so I want to set the record straight about where the British actually landed on their way to burn Washington.

In your Nov. 4-17 Bay Life “Don Shomette: This Underwater Adventurer’s a Historian” (Vol. 1: 15), you write: “During the War of 1812, British forces sailed to Bladensburg, then a deepwater port, from there marching to Washington.”

Bladensburg was a deep water port on the Anacostia River, which the British would have had to reach by way of the Potomac River. In fact, they landed at the Patuxent River port of Benedict, from which they staged their march to Washington. You’ll find that fact confirmed in many books, including Maryland, My Maryland and The Darkest Day.
Ellis Roy Carpenter Jr.

Silver Spring and Deale Beach, Maryland

Bay Doesn’t Live up to Reputation
Dear New Bay Times:
Thanks to my subscription to New Bay Times, I kept up on your rockfish season this year. I read all the stories about people loading up on rockfish and I saw the photos you kept running.

I think you exaggerate how good the fishing is and probably keep taking pictures of the same fish!

When I fished the Chesapeake Bay, I had no luck at all. Not a bite. I was on a boat that leaked and was slower than the fish. I’ve caught more at a place called Miller Park in Illinois. I think it’s time you restock the Chesapeake Bay.

Also, I ate some Chesapeake Bay oysters, which I read are supposed to an aphrodisiac. I haven’t noticed any difference whatsoever.

David Penn, Bloomington, Illinois

(Editors note. We checked with the captain and learned that the letter-writer became seasick shortly just after the boat pulled out of the slip, apparently from stinkbait he brought along. As for the oysters, we only said they’re nutritious. Anything else, you’re on your own.)

Living in the “New Bay Times”
Dear New Bay Times:
Happy Holidays to all of you! We thought it was a good time to thank you for a great newspaper.

We are fairly new to this beautiful area, and your newspaper has been our guide to all the wonders of Bay living.

We have enjoyed all of the articles. We’ve been informed and amused.

Your ads have pointed us in the right direction for many of our needs and entertainment.

With your help we are discovering what it means to be living in “the New Bay Times.”

Thanks again,
The Heffernan Family, Fairhaven Cliffs, Maryland

Dear New Bay Times:
Congratulations on your newspaper. It’s refreshing! I love your spirit.

Gerlinde Coates, Springfield, Illinois

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The Legend of Herring Bay Christmas
by Sandra Martin

Night is darkest over water. Away from the familiar radiance of land, away from the welcoming lights of home, night hovers, unrefracted, over primal, swelling blackness as if God had never let there be Light.

But as night hovers longest, Herring Bay glows brightest.

That’s when Ed Becke lights Tommy Hoyle’s Christmas tree. Then, the long 15-hour night is brilliant, twinkling magic. Over 300 colored lights multiply into a network of rolling rainbows in the water’s black mirror. Then, from Holland Point to Town Point, from Deale Beach to Holly Hill, from Fairhaven to Rose Haven—then, even for stranger ships that navigate the Bay—it is Christmas.

Christmas came to Herring Bay a decade ago.

When Tommy Hoyle came home to Fairhaven from the hospital, sick with cancer, on December 11, 1983, Ed Becke got a bright idea for brightening his old friend’s Christmas. Ed cut a 24-foot cedar in the neighboring woods, rowed it 900 feet out into Herring Bay, and stood it upright on the 12-by-38 foot swimming deck, securing it against gravity and the tricks of wind with 18 1800-pound-test nylon guy lines. Then, giddy with Christmas spirits, Becke and his accomplices draped the tree with strands of lights.

Meanwhile, Myrtle Hoyle had tucked her husband into bed in their Bayfront living room. “He didn’t know anything about it. When they turned on the lights, he turned over and smiled. To me, that was the greatest thing in the world,” Myrtle remembers.

The “greatest thing in the world” is simple engineering to its magician maker. Though Becke’s not sure the electrical inspector would approve, he ran one No. 8 copper hot wire (just a little smaller than a pencil) 1,300 feet out from his house and grounded it in the Bay. It’s plugged in an automatic timer to shine from dark till dawn. Many a blustery December day, Ed’s waded the shallow, icy waters to repair a “leak.”

Gales in 1990 toppled the tree. It was put right that year, but since the live tree has been replaced by a 21-foot triangular wire armature draped in lights and topped at 36-feet by a shining star.

For Christmas tree or Christmas stick, engineering leavened with neighborhood goodwill makes magic. Ed never works alone. Mark Manders, Ed’s tree trimming partner from the first, is usually the top man: He climbs to the “scary” top of the ladder to raise high the lights. Other neighborhood men, women, and children lend a hand.

But everybody knows Ed Becke is Herring Bay’s Santa, who tickles winter’s long night with light, putting magic back in Christmas.

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Under an Eclipsed Moon,

Rising Tides Remind Us We Are Not Almighty
How can you buy or sell the sky? The land? This we know:
The Earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth.
All things are connected like the blood which unites all of us.
When the last red man has vanished with his wilderness,
and his memory is only a shadow of a cloud moving across the prairie, will these shores and forests still be here?

Those questions—posed about a hundred years ago by Chief Seattle, an Indian of the Northwest—came to mind recently as Dr. Larry Stafford and I watched with concern the waters of the Little Choptank rise around his summer home—which doubles as his winter waterfowl and deer camp—at Little Horn Point in Dorchester County on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

It was this past November 28, the Sunday after the opener of Maryland’s modern firearms deer season, and two deer were already checked in. If you recall it was also the time of the eclipse of the full moon, the tail end of exceptionally heavy rainfall when winds were strong winds from the east.

What a combination, I thought, as brown pine needles drifted past the house on clear waters that already approached the platform of the docks and circled us like a moat. A tributary of the Chesapeake was reclaiming—if only for a short time—the land it once dominated.

“It’s a reminder, a real visible one, that we are only renting the land," said my somewhat glum, though fascinated companion, who purchased the cottage and surrounding property within the past year. “What the Chesapeake wants, the Chesapeake takes. It’s the boss, and it’s letting us know just that.”

Good thinking, I thought. Native American thinking. The land is paramount; man only passes. The land is forever—unless man interferes, and at his own risk.

But nothing can give me a greater feeling of loss than the way nature disappears to make room for people’s pleasure.
— Chief Dan George, British Columbia.

Much of the surrounding marshy woodlands were as they were in the days of the Choptanks and other Native Americans, but the cottage was about 75 yards from the banks of a large cove off the Little Choptank. Larry knew there would be days like this, but not so soon. It takes a rare day to bring the tide beyond the banks.

But, though the owner, he was only “renting” the land, as were others not far distant, who were building larger and more permanent homes within the clutches of the Little Choptank.

Through the morning, the tide continued its rise. The dock disappeared, then the pilings above it. No longer was it possible to determine where the river and cove ended and the lawn began. And the tide was still flooding.

The backyard became a part of the Little Choptank; water was above the rims of my 1992 Subaru station wagon. It was too late to head for the high ground of the highway far distant. There would be too many dips in the flooded road to stall the engine. Four-wheel drive isn’t of much use when the engine is flooded.

I got concerned between 1 and 2 o’clock, as the waters rippled by the east wind swirled past the house and rose closer to the doors of the Subaru. I thought of kneeling in the flood to jack up the wheels and prop them another foot higher, but realized there wasn’t time.

Like those who have built on the shores of ocean and tidal waters, I had no choice but to wait, watch and hope. And ponder. Man who chooses to live on—or even visit—waterfront areas must be aware of the consequences. He must know his land.

How can you not know the land? Is it not all around you?
—Chief Dan George.

How true, but water was now all around and covering the land I knew. I thought of men who borrow the land, or as Larry said “rent” it. I thought of those in Ocean City who have built on dunes, sometimes going to court to win the right to do so. When in coastal storms the Atlantic reclaims briefly what it owns, the businessmen and homeowners come running for financial aid. In the bureaucratic way of government, we all chip and pay their bill.

We bulldoze sand to rebuild the beaches, but in doing so we silt the backbays, which are the spawning grounds of many fish. Then siltation ruins the fishing. And while doing so, we realize the Atlantic can again get angry at any time to show us who is boss,

I thought of the lowland peninsula on the other side of Stoney Creek from my Riviera Beach home. Many years ago, development started, only to be halted by the permit and regulation process. But in recent years, construction of townhouse was revived, the creek was heavily silted by runoff. Gone were the woodlands that once protected from erosion the creek, the Patapsco and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay.

What future does a tree have nowadays?
—Chief Dan George.

We see this duplicated everywhere these days as people, in their rush to live on the water they love, follow the words of Oscar Wilde in the “Ballad of Reading Gaol”: Yet each man kills the thing he loves ... by all let this be heard ...

Less than 200 yards from my home, a bulkhead replaces once-marshy spawning areas for fish. At times, Stoney Creek washes behind that bulkhead in its desire to reclaim its domain. Costly repairs are called for, yet they are like pouring sand down a rat hole.

The tree behind my home remain. In summer they hide the water, but year ‘round, their root system protects the creek, the Patapsco and the Chesapeake. The treed land is more stable than the land behind the ugly bulkhead that someday will give way to the relentless water.

Men who do not keep the earth sacred create much sorrow.
— Chief Dan George.

Yet, we continue to disrupt marshes, the lifeblood of much of our aquatic life; we challenge the sea, the Bay, its tributaries by developing its shoreline. We want to be closer and closer to where we boat, fish, crab, swim or whatever.

At 2:47pm, with waters lapping at the Subaru doors, the tide suddenly turned off as if controlled by the spigot of a bathtub. Just as suddenly, the wind ceased.

Within a couple minutes, pine needles were flowing back towards the Little Choptank. Before long, pilings and piers reappeared, then the lawn emerged save for several large pockets of water now landlocked. We were no longer part of the Little Choptank.

The Indians who once roamed this area would undoubtedly have delighted in my dilemma, brief as it was. More so in the woes of those who think they can control the forces of nature. They lived by the law of the land in a literal sense. They accommodated the land rather than attempt to force the land to accommodate them. They knew that:

We are as much alive as we keep the earth alive.
—Chief Dan George.

While on the subject of man challenging nature, earlier this month a 60-foot fishing headboat El Toro II sank in the Chesapeake off the mouth of the Potomac with 23 aboard. There were 21 survivors, thanks to a fast and efficient rescue mission by the Coast Guard.

Apparently seas that rolled as high as six feet loosened planks in winds approaching gale force, but there remains the question of whether this or any other boat should have sailed the Chesapeake that day.

The previous afternoon at 3, NOAA’s weather service at BWI issued a small craft advisory. True, waters were relatively calm when the boat sailed from Ridge at 8:15am, but skies were ominous—and there was that small craft advisory still in effect.

At 8:53, the first gale warnings went out over the airwaves. At 9:30 they covered Maryland’s portion of Chesapeake Bay. The headboat was obliviously heading to Virginia rockfishing grounds at that time.

Around noon, when the storm’s presence was obvious, all were ordered into the cabin, and the boat steamed homeward. Thankfully, all necessary lifesaving gear was aboard because it was needed a couple hours later when the boat began taking on water faster than it could be bailed out.

Survivors clung to a life raft; others were nearby in personal flotation devices, and a few perched on the top of the cabin—the only part of the boat visible—when the Coast Guard from St. Inigoes arrived after receiving the May Day call at 2pm It was not an easy rescue even for a helicopter, a tug boat that also responded, and a 41-foot Coast Guard cutter.

Hindsight is always better than foresight, but this incident raises some serious questions, foremost of which centers on the responsibility of skippers to monitor weather forecasts on weather channels. Surprisingly few do, whether at the helm of commercial, charter or recreational craft of any size.

Through more than a half century on the water, I have been continually astonished by the response of captains when I questioned them about weather forecasts.

The usual response is “I don’t bother with them. If I did I’d never go fishing. They’re never right.”

I’m a weather watcher but have gone fishing when skies, seas, or forecasts were ominous. However, I chose on such occasions waters where land or other refuge was nearby.

Fred Davis, chief weatherman at BWI whose voice we hear often on the reports, said that 85 percent of forecasts prove to be correct; possibly more so for alerts, and certainly for warnings. “We give a lot of thought before issuing a warning,” he told me.

There are more than enough regulations covering boaters these days, but one wonders whether those who carry passengers for hire need be required to periodically monitor weather reports, or have vessels equipped with electronic devices that sound alerts when radical weather and water conditions are expected.

I have one such device in my home. Even when turned off, the set responds to a signal sent from weathermen. A light flashes, and the alert is broadcast. This could have sent the El Toro II steaming towards the docks several hours earlier.

Whether developing on land, or sailing the seas, man has always challenged the water. But by now, we should know Mother Nature rules. Enough said.

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Welcome Winter, Bringing Back Light
Contradiction. That’s the first thought that comes to mind as we near the December 21st winter solstice. That’s the day winter officially begins—a dread season for many, a time of staying indoors, a time of little light if you work sealed up in an office building, department store or factory with no sight or sound of the outside world.

Here’s the contradiction. December 21 is the shortest day of the year. That means that while winter is just beginning, the amount of daylight will begin to increase by one minute every day! January 27 has no less daylight than November 25, Thanksgiving Day. February 27 has 30 minutes more daylight than January 27. Winter is no darker than autumn.

For me there’s another contradiction. Neighbors. In summer, while I linger at the kitchen table watching the landing patterns of house finches, chickadees, and mourning doves at the feeder, I’m vaguely aware of that yellow house up the hill to the left, a corner smiling through the trees, where laughter of children in the swimming pool behind the hedge will sound in the heat of the afternoon. Now, the solstice draws near; so do other neighbors.

As the leaves fall from the trees the veil falls from our view. The yellow house comes fully into sight, then the white one, the blue, the gray-green—eight houses by now with another to be discovered when the mulberry finally looses its grip on its last wilted yellow leaves. Just as neighbors disappear from beaches and roadway, their house lights shine into view on the rim of this bowl our properties cling to, my house on the Bay side, the lower more broken edge, the others higher up perching like tree houses on the higher edge across the tall-growing woods that fills up the middle of our bowl. Those are friendly lights in winter’s evenings.

Like the ebb and flow of tides the seasons come and go, shifting and reversing. When the tide reverses its current from incoming to outgoing there’s a distinct period of rest or equilibrium called slack water. As the name implies, the water simply goes slack or stands still for a moment before reversing its direction.

Like the tides, the seasons have their moments of slack. Solstice comes from the Latin sol meaning sun and sistre, to stand still. The changing of the seasons, the moment of “slack water”, the moment when the sun stands still between the waning and waxing, has long been noted and recorded.

The Natives of Arizona and the Eskimos noted the sun in relation to a fixed observation point like a needle of rock. Greeks and Middle Easterners noted the length of a shadow cast by a vertical shaft called a gnomon .

Ancients believed that these times of transition are times of great potential, times to be not only noted but revered. Times of renewal. In Rome, after ad274, the solstice was celebrated on December 25 as the birthday of the unconquered sun. By 336, a Christianized Rome commemorated this same date as the birthday of Christ, the son of righteousness.

As I write the forsythia, in contradiction to the season, blooms in the back yard. One neighbor was heard to say, “Remarkably silly plant, the forsythia, blooming out of season.” I’d rather think the forsythia a winter blessing, a symbol of hope for the coming renaissance, one that we can expect to see any middling-mild day of winter till it bursts into its full glory as spring’s first harbinger near the equinox of March.

— Sonia Linebaugh

Local Santas: The Guys Behind the Beard
story and photos by Steven Anderson

What’s the one thing children most love and fear? It’s not you, Mom and Dad, nor Wild Things in the closet. It’s old St. Nick, the same man who’ll fly through the skies on Christmas Eve, bringing all kids what they deserve.

They don’t care who is the person with the beard. They don’t ask how he gets all his work done when he sits in a chair all day. But maybe you’ve wondered.

Maybe you’ve thought that man in the puffy red suit with a fake beard is probably having a terrible time. That kid’s crying so loud that the ceiling tiles are shaking. But that’s not George Bevins’ attitude.

“You gotta want to do it, or don’t bother doing it,” says 29-year-old Bevins. The rest of the year, this Santa works as a bridge repairman for the state, but from November 24 to December 24, he spends his time impersonating Santa. He’d always wanted to see the world through Santa’s eyes. Then he got his chance, and he’s been at it ever since. Bevins played Santa at the Annapolis Mall for three years; last year he worked the Glen Burnie Mall, too.

Like most of those jolly bearded Santas, Bevins loves children. But he won’t let his own four-year-old visit him at work because the toddler might see his father in Santa’s eyes and then might stop believing in Santa.

This is a paying job. Santa’s minimum wage is around $7 dollars, but a guy with a long, fluffy beard can earn as much as a thousand a week. But Santa isn’t in it for the money. Another Annapolis Mall Santa, Ted Bucolo, was asked why he hadn’t picked up his check. “What!” he said. “I get paid for this, too?”

Bucolo has been Santa for the last 10 years at day care centers, convalescent homes and with retarded children. He turned pro last year when he was “discovered” in the mall and recruited. Fifty-eight-years old Santa Bucolo owns Capitol Graphics in civilian life and is father to four children and nine grandchildren.

Michael Boston—who’s been Santa for three years, the last two years at Landover Mall—also plays the Easter Bunny. The 39-year-old’s career as a plump Santa and bouncing Easter Bunny was suggested by his wife, who works as one of his elves. When not in his seasonal suits, Boston works at the Smithsonian Museum of African Art.

Santas come in all shapes, sizes, colors and ages, but they all have one thing in common: They’ll sit in an itchy beard and suit that makes them sweat just for the kids. Even though some of the kiddies squall when a man in red with fur growing out of his face has hold of them, Santa is always jolly.

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In the Air
The sharp-shinned hawk is the smallest and most common North American accipiter, but it’s not common in my backyard just ten feet from the kitchen window so I was fascinated to have an opportunity for closehand observation.

I spotted the hawk as it landed on the ground, first thinking it to be a mourning dove and half wondering why the sparrows, chickadees, juncos and titmice had taken off in alarm. Then I saw the hawk features: large head; sharp, hooked bill—black with a yellow bridge—broad shoulders. Definitely not a dove.

The hawk accommodatingly flew first to the butternut tree and then to a sassafras sapling, allowing me a close look at all its aspects. The tawny and white barred chest and face, the slatey cap and back, the long tail—dark on top with darker bars, white underneath with dark bars, yellow legs with black claws, and red eyes with narrow yellow rim all indicated either a sharp-shinned or Coopers hawk. But the squared-off tail feathers pinpointed the sharp-shinned.

As the alert hawk sat in the sassafras, turning its head owl-like clear around the back, I wondered just how patient it would be waiting for some small bird to venture back to the feeder. Its patience was just about as long as mine—ten minutes. Then it was off to another perch and I was off to the computer.

That big-headed, duck-headed kingfisher is nothing new. All summer long and all fall too I’ve been watching his and his queen’s helicopter hovers, giddy flight and kamikaze dives into the Bay. Why, then, do their white undersides so catch the eye this season, glistening like light on a mirror? Some trick of the thin winter sun, I imagine, and keep looking.

Since my eyes are peeled, I’ve been seeing more of their commoner, red-headed cousin woodpeckers hopping about in the tops of trees. When they come to my rooftop feeding yard, they’re so inconvenienced by their long beaks that they have to hold their heads sideways to pick up their oily sunflower seeds. Time to hang up the suet feeder.

On Tree, Bush and Shrub
Berries are back in season. You may not enjoy this season’s specialties so much as you did strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and gooseberries, but the birds like them just as much. In fact, be sure not to eat these as many are poisonous to humans. Winter’s bounty includes orange bittersweet and pyracantha, crimson holly and dogwood, white mistletoe and poison ivy and blue privet.

Once I made a garland of privet hedge branches laden with berries to hang with a red bow over the doorway at Christmas time. It looked charming—but since then a new hedge has sprouted under my deck. You might want to bring some berried branches inside where you can more easily rid yourself of them when they’ve outlasted their welcome.

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O Tannenbaum
As you admire your decorated tree this season, remember the trees of Christmas past doing new duty in the marshes of Dorchester County.

Nearly 2,000 Christmas trees are helping restore the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. There’s no doubt the Refuge needs help—it’s lost 5,000 acres of marsh since 1985. The problem is a combination of rising sea level, intruding salt water and animals—nutria and muskrats.

Nutria and muskrats live and feed on marsh plants. When the plants die, there’s nothing to hold the marsh together, so the sea level rises and the wind blows through, breaking up the marsh, says the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. A healthier wetland could fight back against those natural factors, but Blackwater marsh is too weak to respond.

The Christmas tree barrier was built to slow the destruction and revive the marsh by the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Refuge and the Maryland Conservation Corps. A huge crate, 150 feet long and six feet wide, made by Fish & Wildlife was filled with Christmas trees by kids from the Conservation Corps. The structure is high enough to break the wind, slow wave action and trap sediments to cultivate marsh grasses. “Hopefully, this will protect existing marshes from erosion and at the same time trap some of the sediment that's coming down,” Tamara McCandless of Fish & Wildlife explains.

Reusing old Christmas trees is a new idea to Maryland, but it’s been successful in rebuilding Louisiana marshes and Alabama beach dunes. Late last year, Fish & Wildlife decided to give the trees a try. Eastern Shore residents donated their Christmas trees, which were stored for a year, until the crate could be constructed. Recently, the project was completed and the trees put to work.

Now comes waiting and monitoring to see if the trees will work. With very sensitive equipment to measure sediment accumulation, McCandless expects to see results within a few months.

Bay Watchers
Through rain, wind, heat and even snow they trudge each week. Not to deliver your mail but to test your water. They are the Chesapeake Bay volunteer citizens who wade into the Bay’s rivers and creeks to check on the water quality.

Recently, several long-time volunteers were honored by the Chesapeake Executive Council for their hard work. Among the award winners were several folks in our area. They were cited for their dedication to the restoration of the Bay.

Congratulations to Ben Dove and Gretchen Sielstad of Edgewater; Philip Hildebrandt of Prince Frederick; Mary Hollinger and John Prouty of Huntingtown; Ken Kaumeyer and Kent Mountford of Lusby; and Tom Repenning and Henry Virts of Mechanicsville.

These neighbors join a network of 140 volunteers in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia. They test for dissolved oxygen, pH, salinity, nutrients, air and water temperature and daily precipitation. The data, collected at 100 sites, is used by scientists and managers to determine the Bay’s health and develop long-term restoration plans.

The citizen program is directed by the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, a coalition of environmentalists, government officials, business representatives and sports enthusiasts.

Growing Grassroots
Calvert Future Vision continues to focus its mission and strategies. The new grassroots group is holding regular meetings to organize Calvert County residents for local politics.

These folks are putting their time where their concerns are. That is, they’re attending public hearings, workshops and meetings that deal with environmental, social and economic issues in their backyard.

The nonpartisan organization has big plans for 1994. It hopes to hold forums for politicians and citizens, form neighborhood networks and recruit and endorse candidates. Those items will be discussed at the group’s next meeting on January 10 at the Prince Frederick Public Library.

Green Oil
Maryland mechanics are turning green.

That is, they’re recycling used oil and antifreeze more than ever before. One and a half million gallons of used motor oil have been deposited in the past three years. Antifreeze recycling is also up by 46 percent over last year.

The Maryland Environmental Service runs the recycling program, which provides tanks at 200 locations for do-it-yourself mechanics. The program is designed to “make the process convenient and keep the used oil from polluting the environment and contaminating underground drinking water supplies,” explains Environmental Service director George Perdikakis.

Gone are the days of dumping old oil down the drain, on the ground or in the trash. That’s against the law now in Maryland, and no wonder. According to MES, dumping used oil from one oil change into a storm drain can cause an eight-acre oil slick.

If you change your own antifreeze and oil, be sure to pour the liquids into separate, clean, non-breakable containers. To be recycled, they can’t be mixed together or with gasoline, paint, brake fluid or solvents. Special containers are available at auto parts and discount stores.

To find out more about how and where you can recycle your oil and antifreeze, contact the MES at 800/I RECYCLE.

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Make Christmas Cookies a Family Tradition
by Carol Hafford

When I was a girl, my family baked Christmas cookies.

I remember spending hours in the kitchen with my mother and sisters, mixing and baking chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookies, happily licking the teaspoons used to drop them on the baking sheets. Once these cookies were done, tucked away in tins and placed on the highest shelf in the hall closet, we would begin making sugar cookies.

Taking the chilled dough from the refrigerator, we would begin by rolling it across the kitchen table. Next, we dipped red plastic cookie cut-outs in flour and pressed them firmly into the stiff dough. Decorating the cookies required great patience as we hand-painted Christmas angels, bells, and trees, sprinkled jars of crystals to make red hearts and green shamrocks. We printed our names on leftover dough.

By late afternoon on baking day, we cleaned up for supper. The counter was cluttered with ingredients and utensils, the table-top crusted with dried dough. The fun was over.

Once I spilled white sugar on the floor, promising to sweep it all up. But when my father came home from work that evening, his footsteps crunched as he walked through the kitchen on thousands of invisible sugar crystals I missed with the broom. Needless to say, I swept the floor again.

Over the years, I became the family baker, inheriting our gently stained copy of the Pillsbury “Butter Cookie Cookbook” (which cost 15 cents almost 30 years ago) as well as the red plastic cookie cutters. So now, each Christmas, my family expects me to bring the cookies from Maryland back home to New York.

My sons help me prepare the dough, taking turns adding ingredients or switching on the mixer. While a batch of cookies is in the oven, I place the dough in the refrigerator to keep it chilled. The boys sneak in and out of the kitchen to scoop up some dough on their fingers, giggling with delight as they run away.

In the early morning on Christmas Eve, as we prepare for the long drive to New York, I tuck away dozens of freshly baked cookies in the back of the station wagon, nestled among suitcases, pillows, and presents. There are shortbread and oatmeal raisin cookies to dip in milk or a cup of tea. Delicate golden madeleines baked in scallop shell molds, rugelach pastry loaded with walnuts, raisins and cinnamon sugar. Triple batches of chocolate chips, a favorite of young and old. There are apricot or raspberry jam-filled bars. Gingerbread boys and girls, Santa and his reindeer (one with a bright red cinnamon drop nose!)

But I like to save baking the sugar cookies for last. On Christmas Eve, three generations of my family will again make cookies with the red plastic cut-outs, designing them with sprinkles, crystals, food coloring, and happiness. Amid the confusion of creativity, Grandpa will stop into the kitchen to sample some cookies, reminding the children (and one grown-up) not to spill any sugar on the floor.

From the Pillsbury Butter Cookie Cookbook:

Split Seconds (Jam Bars)
Bake at 350 F for 15-20 minutes. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Sift together...
2 C flour
1/2 t double-acting baking powder and
2/3 C sugar into mixing bowl.

Blend in ...
3/4 C soft butter (or margarine)
1 unbeaten egg and
2 t vanilla to form a dough.

Place ...
on a lightly floured pastry board. Divide into four parts; shape each into a roll, 13 inches long and 3/4 inch thick. Place on ungreased baking sheets, 4 inches apart and 2 inches from the edge of sheet.

a depression, 1/4 inch deep, lengthwise down center of each with a knife handle. Fill depressions with jelly or jam, about 1/3 cup for each roll.

in moderate oven (350 F) 15-20 minutes until light golden brown.

While warm, cut diagonally into bars. Cool on wire rack.

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How Well Do Know Your Christmas Customs?

Decorated evergreen trees appear everywhere at Christmas time. Poinsettias make their way up from warmer climates. Santa Claus circles the earth to visit everyone who invites him. Do you know how these and other Christmas customs came to be? Test yourself.

1. Who started the idea that Santa flies with a team of reindeer?
2. If Santa delivers presents to two billion families, how fast must he travel?
3. Why are poinsettias associated with Christmas?
4. Why are live trees brought into our homes at Christmas?
5. What’s for Christmas dinner?
6. When and where was Christmas forbidden?
7. What’s the real Christmas money?

1. Dr. Clement Moore, a New York professor, wrote the poem that starts, “ ’Twas the night before Christmas,” to entertain his children. A newspaper published it and soon everyone decided that Santa could fly.

2. For Santa to deliver presents to two billion families in 24 hours, he would have to travel at 70,000 miles per hour, and stay at each house for one-half of one ten-thousandth of a second. So if you don’t hear him, it’s no wonder.

3. In Mexico, where poinsettias grow wild, they’re called “flower of the blessed night” in remembrance of the star of Bethlehem that shone over the birthplace of Jesus.

4. Both Romans and British loved the evergreen holly that lasts all winter. Germans venerated pines trees as a symbol of everlasting God. Hollies and pines were brought indoors to give people hope for lasting through the cold winters.

5. Today each family has it’s own traditional Christmas meal. Early Europeans in North America ate buffalo, beaver, turkey or moose at Christmas. Fish is a popular Christmas dish in Czechoslovakia, while Brazilians prefer fried shrimp.

6. In 1644 the British parliament bowed to the country’s upstart Puritan ruler Oliver Cromwell and banned Christmas. Cromwell didn’t approve of religious rituals. In 1659, in America, Massachusetts passed a law fining anyone caught celebrating Christmas.

7. Before 1863, each bank was allowed to print its own money. (Today all US money is printed by the US Treasury.) Several banks in New York City printed jolly old Saint Nick on their money. These bills are now worth several hundred dollars each—to collectors.

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Our Lights Shine Brighter Together
Did you know that when one light is out on a string of Christmas lights, the whole string won’t work? We humans are kind of the same, especially at Christmas time: we need each other. If even one person isn’t smiling, isn’t hoping, Christmas isn’t as it should be. So while you’re helping your mom and dad hang the Christmas lights on your family’s tree and around your home, make sure your heart-light’s shining.

And take it with you to see Christmas lights in other places. The President’s Christmas tree will stay lit until January 1. Every holiday evening at 6pm, you can hear live music beside the tree on the Ellipse (south of the White House).

At Watkin’s Regional Park in Upper Marlboro, The Winter Festival of Lights shines 175,000 lights to welcome families. To see lights rivaling the stars, bring a donation of canned food for the needy.

Annapolis city’s Christmas tree is trimmed and lighted, downtown on Market Square. Lighted greens hang inside the state house, on lampposts and storefronts there.

The private home of the Hargroves family, makers of the big-time parade floats you see on television, becomes a fairyland of lights each year. And each year has a new theme. Rumor says trains will be this year’s theme. Drive through a pine lane of lighted arches and see for yourself: off Rte. 258 before Rte.4, near Deale.

Get a Bayfront view of Galesville’s many well-lighted homes from the West River. Take a free ride on Happy Daze—but please make a donation to help West River have fire works next July 4. Two cruises per night (6:30-7:30pm and 8:30-9:30pm) from December 15-19, 22-23 and 29-30. Reserve your place: 410/267-6333.

Keep your eyes open for lights in other places, too: homes, offices, stores, fire companies and boats.

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