Online Archives

Volume 2 Issue 3 1994

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).

Burton on the Bay | Earth Journal | Editorial | Letters to the Editor | Bay Reflections | Dock of the Bay

| Diversions and Excursions | Laughing Gourmet | Politalk | Sky Talk - In the Sky

Lead Stories

Green (and anti-Green) Bills:

What You Need to Know Now that the Legislature’s In Town


by Carolyn Martin

New Bay Times Environmental Correspondent


            Crabs and clams. Takings and standings. Trees and wetlands. These are some of the hottest issues in front of the Maryland General Assembly this session.

            But the legislative game’s an acquired taste, like baseball. It takes a little knowledge before you can follow the action. That’s why groups like Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Sierra Club, and Maryland Conservation Council keep score cards on bills that they say most affect the Free State’s environmental health.

            With just 90 days in Maryland’s January-to-April lawmaking session, there’s plenty of activity around the Capitol. Already, 68 environmental bills have been introduced, with more still in the writing room. Here are some highlights; stay tuned to New Bay Times for updates:

            Wetlands Senate Bill. Background: Right now, our nontidal wetlands are protected by a host of federal agencies, chiefly the Army Corps of Engineers, who get to write permits and exceptions on how they’re used. This bill would allow the Department of Natural Resources to take over nontidal wetland permitting from the feds. 

            That could be dangerous, environmental advocates worry, because turning over power to the state and county levels could open the door to decisions based on politics and economics rather than science.

            The Chesapeake Bay Foundation says that, despite the Department of Natural Resources’ good intentions,  many problems loom:

            •Is there enough money to pay for DNR’s new role?

            •Will the next governor (and DNR boss) be pro-wetlands?

            If not, what happens then?  “This is not the time to enter into a difficult, complex process of state assumption,” says Nita Settina, of the Bay foundation. She adds that her organization will mount “pure, all-out opposition” to this bill.


            Forest Conservation Act — or Tree Bill. Background: The original Forest Conservation Act, passed in 1991,  balances protection and development of Maryland’s forests. In 1993, the Assembly appointed an 11-member advisory group of developers, environmentalists, farmers and government planners to re-evaluate  the law. The group’s recommendations will be the 1994 Tree Bill.

            Friends of the environment don’t like some of these recommendations. Here’s one way they fear the Forest Act will be weakened:  Currently, when developers cut down a stand of trees, they’ve got to replace them by creating another “forest,” near a stream or some such pretty place. When trees are planted simply as landscaping, the current law allows them only as last choice. A proposed change would let developers use landscaping as a first choice. The Sierra Club is among those who protest that landscaping is not replenishing a forest.

            They’re concerned that the proposed change doesn’t rise above “aesthetics.” Real forests, on the other hand, are “one of the best ways of filtering pollutants, including nutrient runoff, out of the Bay. Forests are highly significant in preserving the health of our Bay,” says Larry Bohlen of the Sierra Club Potomac Chapter.


            Lead Poisoning Prevention. Background: For a year and a half, a special commission has been studying lead-paint poisoning and how to prevent it in Maryland. We’ve known for years that lead hurts children. (Most at risk are people living in houses built before 1950.) We still haven’t solved the problem.

            The commission, which included property owners, paint companies, child health advocates and government officials, was charged with drafting a compromise proposal. Now the panel’s proposals will be presented in two bills — one from the commission and a weaker one from the governor.

            Property owners would get as well as give protection in both versions.  Owners give protection by certifying that their properties are free of chipping, flaking or peeling paint. They’d also have to fix surfaces so lead dust isn’t produced. A state-approved, independent inspection every two years would prove their good faith.

            In return for maintaining their property to a safe standard, they get protection against lead poisoning liability. Their carrot?  A cap on how much medical and relocation expenses owners would have to pay tenants who suffer lead poisoning.

            The bill doesn’t go far enough, says the Sierra Club’s Maryland chapter, which wants amendments to strengthen the bill:

            • A lead dust standard for easier measuring;

            • Earlier intervention to require landlord action at lower lead levels in children;

            • A paint tax to finance portions of the law that would use state money;

            •Assurance that a commission to oversee the new law would include a tenant, a parent of a lead-poisoned child and an environmental advocate.


            Standing Bill. Background: It’s difficult for citizens to challenge permits for landfills or incinerators or other actions in court because they don’t have “standing” in the eyes of the law. Generally, to have standing in Maryland, you must own property next door to the proposed landfill.

            “Basically, this bill affects everybody,” says the Bay Foundation’s Settina.

             Consider: in Montgomery County, citizens tried to fight an incinerator proposed by the same company now talking to Anne Arundel County officials. “Farmers, fishermen, property owners — none of them had standing. People who owned the incinerator had standing,” Settina said.

            This bill would open court doors to more citizens.


            Takings Bill. Background: If you’ve heard of the so-called “wise-use” movement and its widespread effort to undermine environmental laws, you’ve heard of “takings.”

            Property owners contend that many laws and land use restrictions are “taking” their property, so they ought to be paid for their loss. Money to pay landowners would come from state tax dollars.

            Look for big national and state battles on this issue. Environmental advocates barely defeated the takings law last session, and they are united against it now. It would be expensive and impossible to enforce, they contend, generating litigation at every turn. 

            “It’s a ‘taking’ of money from taxpayers,” says Sierra Club volunteer Ed DeBellevue.


             Other issues on this Assembly’s environmental agenda:

             • Fisheries bills, especially proposals to restrict crabbing: “This is the most important fisheries bill this session,” says Chesapeake Bay Foundation scientist Bill Goldsborough, “It’s important to look ahead and try to avoid problems and a crisis like the oysters and striped bass.”

            • Pesticides regulation, monitoring and prohibition, in a series of bills.


Take Me Out to the Statehouse

            Environmental advocates have been recruiting residents from our area to join in the fun of politics at its purest — lobbying. Recently, southern Maryland residents gathered in St. Mary’s County for spring training. 

            Richard Martin of Chaptico, who says he retired to St. Mary’s County to raise horses and hell, is ready to “go to Annapolis and throw the rascals out.” 

            Rob Propes, 23, of Charles County, said he is organizing a brand new political action committee. “Sometimes I feel like the political process is working without us. I think if everybody did their part, we’d be much better off,” Propes says.

            Martin and Propes will be among hundreds of Marylanders who plan get across their views at Lobby Day, on Monday, February 21 at St. John’s College. Following the rally, the troops will make personal visits to their legislators to talk — what else — green.

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Flying the Bay

by Steven Anderson


New Bay Times photographer Steven Anderson gets the ride of his life with Freeway Airport’s Captain Mark Valdez


Pullout - “Do you like roller coasters?” the captain asks. “Yea,” I gasp.


            All along the twisting back road to Freeway Airport, my stomach is churning. Yet another winter storm is brewing and every minute I’m late for the appointed time jostles my hopes. I want to  bring back photos of the frozen Bay— almost as much as I want to get out of this assignment.

            When I walk through the door, Captain Mark Valdez recognizes me as the photographer from the New Bay Times . He’s ready; am I?

            Where do I want to go? “Take me back to Illinois,” I propose. But pilot Valdez, who’d been a Maryland waterman until he took to the air two years ago, seems to think I’m joking. Better luck next time.            

            Through all the circles and lines on the aviation map in Freeway’s back office, I find where the Patuxent River connects with the Chesapeake Bay and trace how far north I can follow the Bay — maybe to its origins. After the Bay, we can fly around Washington and up into Delaware over to Ocean City. As long as I stand on solid ground looking at maps, I can travel anywhere.

            Hopping in the Cessna 172, I think about Richie Valens, Buddy Holly and J.P. “Big Bopper” Richardson, who died almost 35 years ago today (Feb. 3, 1959) when their plane went down outside Mason City, Iowa. It was a small, single-engine, prop plane much like the one I’ve just strapped into.

            Trying to take my mind off my present danger, I say that I’ve flown one of these Cessnas before: Flight Simulator-4 , a very difficult video game. There’s a slight difference: if I crash on the screen, the game is over. But if something goes wrong in the air, well, I might become a ground pizza. My triumph over my fear of flying could be the end of me.

            I’ve never flown, never been in a plane before, not even sat in one when I was a kid. Valdez chuckles. He gets me a vomit bag.

            Scared? Bouncing in my head are Valens’ La Bamba  and Buddy Holly’s Peggy Sue. I am terrified.

            Please remember me to everyone I ever loved.



            The fueled Cessna is ready to go. I climb into a cockpit as narrow as the grave. The pilot is no more than five inches from me, his hands flying over the controls, adjusting the altimeter, the nose height and the choke. Opening his side window, he yells for the ground crew to stand clear from the propeller.

            With the push of a button, the prop turns, then roars to life. Holding the plane at bay with the brakes, he checks that my seat belt is tight. I think, Where are those parachutes?

            La La La Bamba.

            Slowly taxiing over to the staging area in a final check, I think this may be my last time on the ground … but not in the ground. Mark repeats,  “If you don’t want to do this, you don’t have to.” 

            “No, I can make it,” I say as we gather speed.  

            “Now you’re flying,” Mark says over the intercom, as the ground drops below the plane with a force that pushes me down and back in the seat.

            La La La Bamba.


In the Air

            Houses get steadily smaller: a three-story house turns into a cottage. Passing over the northernmost edge of the Patuxent and aiming my camera out my window, I begin to feel like I’ve had too much to drink. La La La Bamba.

            I can make it ... I think. I hope. If I start to feel real sick, we can land at the nearest airport, Valdez says. If I’m just a little dizzy, I should look toward the horizon and nowhere else.

            Soon, I can barely tear my eyes away from that horizon. Then the nausea retreats, leaving a sweaty imprint in the seat, and I prepare to shoot, shoot, shoot.

            Later, I’m told that when taking photos from the air, you need to keep both eyes open. Why didn’t you tell me that before?La La La Bamba.

            I’m happy that we don’t have to fly in fog, but I’m not crazy about all this haze. The horizon I’m watching when not using the camera is only about a quarter of a mile away. But I can see beneath me just fine, to where the Patuxent River starts as a snakelike stream in the middle of a frozen basin. The foliage alongside the river is green even though winter has been very harsh this year.

            Heading south, we fly over a slush of ice and land. But the land is receding and the ice dominating. The Patuxent basin quickly widens, but not the free-flowing stream; ice stretches nearly from bank to bank. In 10 minutes, we reach Benedict, which looks larger from the air than at ground level. Broomes Island is our next landmark. On land, I would never have seen that Broomes Island reaches almost halfway across the Patuxent.

            Heading south to Solomons, as we spin in the air, awaiting permission to continue, I’m turning green. The G-force is building as we circle. “Do you like roller coasters?” Mark asks. “Yeah,” I gasp. An airplane is the ultimate roller coaster. La La La Bamba. 

            But I’m beginning to think I can make it.

            We’re finally cleared to fly over Solomons, only to learn that a military plane doing touch-and-go maneuvers is coming within a 500-foot radius of us. No problem, I think, until it buzzes by us, as intimidating as can be. Disappearing quickly, the C-130 transport leaves an exhaust trail as far I can see .

            Get me out of here!

            Turning north, we hug the icy shoreline over Lusby and St. Leonard. Can this heap go faster? Please?

            Then somewhere north of St. Leonard, we veer east over the Bay to hunt for boats among the icebergs. All that’s out is a tugboat pushing a barge and a work boat looking abandoned near some crab traps. Heading back to the Western Shore below Breezy Point, Valdez points to author Tom Clancy’s house with its curvy driveway leading to a genuine army tank, tennis courts and a shooting range in front of a grand house overlooking the Bay.

        Valdez asks if I’m all right. All I can do is nod. Chesapeake and North Beach look appealing from above; I wish I was down there right now.

            Herring Bay, opening onto Rose Haven and Herrington Harbour South, is vast and beautiful. At least I’m close to home. Deale is easy to see with its three bridges and, hey, what’s that construction around the New Bay Times office?

            At the South River, the ride’s getting to me again. Mark speeds up to prevent me from making a mess. Now what’s running through my mind is Ice T’s song, “Lifestyles of the Rich and Infamous”:

It’s a small plane, no fun at all, bouncin’ in the air like a tennis ball.


Touch Down

            Seeing the runway makes all the sickness drain away, leaving what feels like a second-drink buzz. I want to go back up. The view is great up there. To see life from a different angle is intoxicating, almost like power.

            The only problem is that if you drink power too deeply, you might get sick.

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Dock of the Bay

At the Watermen’s Gathering: “Peevis and Duckhead”?

Tensions run high between regulators and those regulated.

Nowhere is this more obvious than the Chesapeake Bay, where watermen fight for what’s left of the lifestyle they’ve inherited against their perceived enemy, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

These tensions boiled over at the annual East Coast Watermen’s Convention, when a vendor started selling T-shirts reading, “Save A Maryland Waterman … Sink A Whaler.” Beneath the words was pictured a Boston Whaler — the fiberglass boats used by DNR’s Natural Resource Police — with the two officers onboard dubbed “Penis” and “Dickhead.”

“Just about every waterman I saw stopped and got one,” said waterman Billy Scerbo of Fairhaven. They sold for about $12, he added.

DNR was neither flattered nor amused. Its representatives asked the vendor, restaurateur Levin F. “Buddy” Harrison, of Tilghman Island, to remove the T-shirts. He did.

Harrison says the T-shirts were not his idea and that he became caught in a dispute between watermen and DNR.

“A group of watermen came up with the idea and brought it to one of our officers,” Harrison explained, referring to an associate. “They thought it was a joke and DNR didn’t.”

Harrison has since written two letters of apology to DNR, one straight to the top-dog, secretary Torrey C. Brown.

For his part, Brown seems satisfied that the incident is resolved. “It was a bad joke,” Brown told New Bay Times. “It was meant as a joke, but it was in poor judgment.”

He added that an internal memo has been sent to National Resources Police officers, reminding them that it is their responsibility to enforce “the law impartially and without prejudice,” despite the “unscrupulous and irresponsible acts of one or two [watermen] who may be disgruntled.”

Which gets us to the roots of all this hubabaloo.

Watermen make their living from the Bay’s resources, which DNR is responsible for protecting.

“For years a certain amount of watermen would like to catch everything out there,” Harrison said. “And it’s DNR’s job not to let ‘em do that.”

Of Ice and Men — A Boater’s Lament

Yes, your boat’s been frozen solid into the Bay all 1994 and looks like a Viking ice sculpture. No, this isn’t the mild winter you planned on when you decided not to haul it this year to save a few hundred bucks. Remember the day you made that calculation?

Don’t worry. Though the ice be seizing and swelling, your boat probably won’t sink. At least if it’s fiberglass.

If it’s wood, you may have a problem. Those big chunks of ice can harm wooden boats, says boat restorer Craig Fitzpatrick of Chesapeake Beach.

“Wooden boats leak. You can’t stop them. If the water gets in and freezes … ”

If the water freezes inside any boat, a couple of very bad things can happen. Your float switch might freeze, allowing your bilge and engine compartment to fill from rain or melting snow. Or, the valve behind your through-hole could shatter, allowing your boat to sink.

And we said don’t worry? You may want to take precautions.

Plug in a light and reflector in the bilge to warm things up. And visit regularly to make sure the ice doesn’t get out of hand. (Stand on your boat, think about August and transmit hot thoughts.)

So don’t worry too much. But use some sense, or you may be calling Fitzpatrick (301/855-0263) for some restoration work.

In Anne Arundel, Shaping Shady Side?

Imagine Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, cut to scale, on little Parrish Creek at Shady Side. Call it “Draketail Village,” add 26,000 square feet of office space and you’ll have a preview of perhaps the best design to come to South County since the steamboats stopped running.

“It will change the character of the peninsula,” trumpets Adam Hewison, the complex’s dreamer and doer.

Brick and mortar won’t be the biggest part of this change. Virgin Bay land won’t be developed. Eighty thousand square feet are already under roof and standing empty on 6.3 acres of about the prettiest Bay property you could imagine. There’s river on one side, marina on a second, marsh on a third and Bay in the distance.

What’s new, in these days of sky-high Bay land prices, is the chance for ordinary people to bring their daily lives this close to the Bay. Working along side the Bay is the advantage of all that office space. Other additions: a supermarket (which, is under negotiation), fresh market, wine and spirits shop, retail stores, a restaurant and a fine long visitor’s boat dockage with boat supplies and rentals. Combining all those up-town services in a pleasant space won’t mean only convenience.

“Each will support the other. They all will benefit from the synergy,” sums up Hewison.

Hewison is a modern bottling of an old idea: the newcomer who sails in on the wings of a proud new technology to connect Chesapeake to the wide world. His last stop was Geneva, Switzerland, a seemingly more just location for his business, speculation in worldwide currencies. He and his wife, lawyer Sally Rich, wanted to be on the water; Shady Side was chance. To find it, they stuck a pin in a map the right radius from Washington.

She commutes in; he runs his business as easily from Shady Side as from any place else in the world — with fairly reliable electric power. London, Tokyo, Sydney are only seconds away by computer, the technology that’s our generation’s answer to ships for the quick transport of wealth and power.

But from out his office window, binoculars was the only technology he needed to see the “For Sale” sign go up on Johns Hopkins’ Chesapeake Biological Institute across Parish Creek. As closing on his $1.5 million deal approaches, he’s already got plans drawn up for a complex to put Shady Side on the map.

Behind the Door of ‘94 Lies...

Want to know the future without tarot cards, crystal balls or wacky predictors?

A group of smart folks called The Trends Research Institute in Rhinebeck, NY have identified what they see as the Top Ten Trends:

•Ancient Wisdom. Things are so weird and confusing in the world that people will begin looking to the old ways for guidance;

•Medical Combining. Hospitals and drug companies will begin consolidating into huge corporations to cut costs and survive health care reform;

•Wars. Even though the U.S.-Russia thing has cooled, there will be ethnic and regional conflicts around the globe;

•“Techno-Tribalism.” Equipped with all the gadgets of the computer age, people will work at home more, build their communities and stop worrying about others’ problems;

•Latino. With the influx of Spanish-speaking people, Hispanic culture will become more popular;

•Home Education. In ten years or so, the number of people who teach their children at home will more than double;

•“Wild West.” Urban crime will increase even more. Despite stricter laws, more people will want guns. And more people will drive trucks and listen to country music;

•Real-Estate. Investors will sink more of their money in Real-Estate Investment Trusts;

•Woodstock. This year’s 25th anniversary of the famous rock will spawn a new awareness of the environment and alternative living;

•“Voluntary Simplicity.” More people will drop out of fast-paced living, choosing to live more simply without so many material possessions.

It’s Christmas (in April) Season

Where do elderly, handicapped and low-income residents of Anne Arundel and Calvert counties turn, when their homes need repairs? Some turn to Christmas in April, a social justice outreach that’s helping more needy people in more Maryland counties every year.

Three years ago, a chapter sprang up in Calvert County, where Christmas in April volunteers repaired 25 homes in their first year. This year, Calvert’s group has grown to 800 volunteers. Under Ken Horseman, who works days at the Calvert County Board of Education, 40 homes will be improved this year, at a cash cost of $55,000.

Christmas in April came to Anne Arundel County last year, under the impetus of Joanne Jackson, who by day is the county’s minority business coordinator. In the first year, $25,000 was raised to repair 20 county homes. This year, over 500 volunteers hope to repair as many as 34 homes. After repairs, they’ll picnic at Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis.

Volunteers donate eight hours, April 30, the last Saturday in

April, and businesses donate thousands of dollars worth of goods and services. Even so, it won’t work without money.

Christmas may not come till April, but the fundraising season is already here. Fun, food and a good cause make a great combination. Come, see for yourself. Here’s what’s upcoming:

February 16: Breakfast at the Fleet Reserve Club in Annapolis at 8AM. $10. Joanne Jackson: 410/222-1317.

February 22: Island social by the Eastport Yacht Club at the Anne Arundel Community College cafeteria, from 7:30-12PM. $15 in advance, $20 at door. Joanne Jackson: 410/222-1367.

March 19: A playhouse will be raffled as part of this fund-raising auction at the Banquet Hall at North Beach Volunteer Fire Department at 7PM. $10. Donations and reservations: Carolyn Mohler: 410/535-4606.

March 19: South Anne Arundel County’s auction and dinner at Deale Elks Club from 6-10:30PM. $10. Make donations or reservations at Mali Office Products: 410/867-7227.

April 8: Twin Shields Gold Club tournament to benefit Calvert Christmas, beginning at 8AM. $65/per person. Contact: Carolyn Mohler: 410/535-4606.

Way Downstream...

We’ve hollered in this space about the military mucking up land all over the place. Here’s some good stuff they’re doing:

At Cape Canaveral in Florida, they’re converting vehicles and machinery to natural gas rather than diesel oil and gasoline. We think they’ll probably still use rocket fuel to lift shuttles.

Across the way at Eglin Air Force Base, they’ve stopped logging in the world’s largest remaining stand of old-growth longleaf pines. They’ve adopted an eco-system management plan on the base’s 724 square miles to go easy on alligators, loggerhead turtles and creatures with which they cohabitate.

There’s more. The U.S. Navy’s Integrated Undersea Surveillance System has been helping conservationists track schools of whales. The system has the capacity to monitor chemical dumping, ocean temperatures and underwater volcanoes...

Cable television magnate Ted Turner (CNN, TBS, etc.) of Atlanta has kicked in over $700,000 to environmental advocacy groups in Montana, among them the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, reports the Missoulian. So Ted, why don’t you and Jane visit the Chesapeake ... and bring your checkbooks ...

Speaking of television, M-TV is talking about setting up a green shopping service called Zoo-TV where you can buy nifty, non-polluting items ...

In this week’s Weird Green Products category, a University of Vermont researcher named Hongda Chen has developed edible sandwich wraps and baggies. Chen’s working to get the flavoring right ...

This week’s Creature Feature is a double-bill coming at us from two faraway lands, Israel and Indonesia.

In Jerusalem, Richard O’Barry, the man who taught Flipper his tricks, collapsed in the seventh day of a hunger strike to protest the transfer of three dolphins to steel tanks in an amusement park.

As the aspiring Flippers prepare for servitude, ten orangutans that had been smuggled to Taiwan several years ago were returned last week to Indonesia under supervision of the World Wildlife Fund.

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I’m No Frankenstein

Believe Me: Biotech Can Help Save the Bay

By: James Lovelace

Last spring I became a menace. Until then, I had been an innocuous biologist pursuing an unremarkable career. Last March all that changed. I accepted a position with the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute, and at that instant I became a villain.

I was unaware of my metamorphosis until I encountered my college ecology professor several months later. This professor had viewed my career with approval and apparent pride. His approbation had followed me through graduate school, a three-year stint in the Amazon Basin seeking ways to protect AmerIndians from the ravages of civilization’s diseases, and subsequent years discovering drugs for treating exotic infections. My announcement that I had recently begun a purely administrative job in biotechnology research, in contrast, seemed to have annoyed and disappointed my professor. He muttered a few unintelligible words, and we parted company.

My grandfather, an intelligent and well-meaning man, refused to allow my mother to receive injections for any reason, simply because he was suspicious that risks might be involved. Luckily for me, my mother survived severe illnesses in her childhood and, as an adult, embraced modern medical practices for both herself and her children. I think of my grandfather when I meet other intelligent and well-meaning people, like my former professor, who fail to recognize the potential benefits of biotechnology because of their concern for its largely overstated risks. I think that is important to emphasize biotechnology’s often under-publicized benefits.

Biotechnology “reforms” living organisms — especially bacteria and other microorganisms — to produce useful goods and services. Biotechnologies that yield biodegradable plastics, natural pesticides and fuels derived from such renewable resources as plant and animal wastes will help preserve our ecosystem rather than threaten it. The Chesapeake Bay in particular will benefit from biotechnology research aimed at preserving the environment.

The Chesapeake is threatened by pollution, and its fauna are falling to disease. Conservation measures — such as limiting shellfish harvests and reducing the use of fertilizer — will help the Bay survive as a natural and economic resource. But such measures alone are not enough. Biotechnology can complement conservation in saving the Bay. Here’s how:

Engineering Disease-Resistant Oysters

The parasitic disease Dermo has devastated the Eastern oyster, one of the Bay’s signature species. Destruction of the oysters not only endangers Maryland’s seafood industry; if further imperils the Bay’s ecology by removing whole beds of filter feeders that act like vacuum cleaners in cleaning the Bay’s waters.

We once hoped to save the species by seeding “clean” Bay waters with uninfected oyster seed raised in hatcheries, but that’s a fading hope. Disease-free areas are disappearing, and it is only a matter of time until none are left.

Over time, populations of animals normally develop resistance to infections. The Eastern oyster has not developed resistance to Dermo. Biotechnologists are trying to discover why. Once we answer this question, we will be well on our way to genetically engineering and producing oyster strains that are identical to their native cousins in every way — except their resistance to Dermo.

In the meantime, this research will provide rapid techniques for identifying Dermo-infected oysters. Knowing how to easily diagnose this infection in hatchery stocks and natural oyster beds will bolster conservation by helping pinpoint the remaining Dermo-free areas of the Bay and insuring that only uninfected oysters are seeded in them.

Replacing Fertilizers

Such parasitic infections as Dermo are not the only threat to the Bay. Pollution by fertilizers leached from lawns and fields in the Bay’s watershed is another serious problem. Both synthetic and natural fertilizers contribute to the problem, for both feed the algae blooms that rob oxygen from aquatic vegetation and animals.

Fertilizers, however, can be replaced by certain bacteria that capture nitrogen from the atmosphere and release it to plants on whose roots they live. In nature, most of these little nitrogen factories attach themselves to legumes. If nitrogen-fixing bacteria would live with other crops, we could reduce our dependence on fertilizers, saving both money and the Bay. Biotechnology can make — indeed is making — it happen.

Cleaning Up with Bacteria

Biotechnology offers ways for cleaning up pollution as well as preventing it. “Bioremediation” puts biological organisms — especially bacteria — to work to clean up the environment. Bacteria can break down and neutralize hazardous chemicals; they can clean up oil spills, fuel leaks, and PCB and polyaromatic hydrocarbon contaminations. Sewage and industrial effluents can be treated in much the same way so that they are harmless before they reach the waterways that lead to the Bay.

When I consider these few examples of biotechnology’s potential for conserving the Chesapeake Bay and its resources, I don’t feel nefarious at all. Somehow, I suspect that were he aware of the benefits that biotechnology offers, even my grandfather would approve. I hope that my old professor will come around.

Maybe you, too?

—James Lovelace is assistant director of the Center for Advanced Research in Biotechnology, one of four University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute research centers. CARB scientists engineer proteins to achieve a variety of social goods, from reversing harmful bacteria’s antibiotic resistance to designing better laundry detergents.

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Letters to the Editor

Up in Smoke?

Dear New Bay Times:

As you may know, in October the Regional Solid Waste Task Force of the Tri-County Council for Southern Maryland published a report entitled “Trash Can Realities: Managing the Future Solid Waste Crisis in Southern Maryland.”

Primary among their recommendations are 1) establishing a “regional authority”; 2) instituting a cooperative marketing plan for recyclables to be processed at a “regional materials recovery facility”; and 3) developing a “regional waste-to-energy facility.”

During January and February, the Task Force is presenting a slightly revised report to concerned citizens and the three county boards of commissioners.

Many organizations, including the Sierra Club and the Potomac River Association, have already written to the Tri-County Council and the three county commissions in opposition to the waste-to-energy incinerator, which would be sited in the Hughesville-Charlotte Hall area by the year 2001.

Although many of the recommendations of the hard-working citizen Task Force are worthy of support, local citizens must investigate the serious problems with incineration before allowing funding to proceed:

• County and regional waste management plans should first fully implement waste reduction, reuse, recycling, materials recovery, composting and landfilling before determining if a need for incineration exists.

• Studies indicate that incineration causes serious health problems through air pollution.

• Managing the usually toxic ash is expensive and potentially a threat to ground water.

• Historically, incinerators inhibit local waste reduction and recycling programs.

• Incinerators cost too much.

In order to give local citizens more information on other Maryland communities’ struggles with municipal incineration, a Tri-county network of environmental groups recently sponsored a panel discussion to hear from knowledgeable activists about Frederick and Montgomery Counties, Baltimore, and the rural Eastern Shore. For more information on what was learned, please call 410/326-0325, 301/283-2948 or 301/884-8027.

As the Task Force says, “We must all take responsibility for what we generate and throw out.” People should not think that all their trash will go up in smoke. Informed public participation is crucial if we in Southern Maryland are to avoid a “Future Solid Waste Crisis.”

—Frank L. Fox

Mechanicsville, Md.

Pleased Reader Now Subscribes

Dear New Bay Times:

I’ve enjoyed reading a copy of your publication so much that I would like to purchase a two-year subscription.

Keep up the good work!

—Susanna Wingenroth

Edgewater, Md.

St. Marys? — By Mail

Dear New Bay Times:

With great good fortune, I stumbled across New Bay Times (Vol 1: 13) in Solomons. Fortunate, because the “Flight of the Osprey” answered so many questions I didn’t know enough to ask.

New Bay Times does not seem to be available in St. Mary’s County. I enclose a year’s subscription.

Good luck to you, and I appreciate the work and endeavor you are pouring into New Bay Times.

—Vi Englund

Valley Lee, Md.

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Seaman’s Amnesia

by Vi Englund

Coming to Bay Country: These Sailors Arrived Green but Gleeful their Crossing had Ended

After 10 years chartering in the Caribbean and New England, logging many miles under sail, in May, 1972, we sailed into the Chesapeake and haven’t found a good reason to leave.

We sailed from Grenada to the Virgin Islands, where we picked up our crew: Al Parmentier, dentist from California, Md.; Randy Englund, the skipper’s son, from San Diego; and my son, Dan Parker, student at the University of Rhode Island.

A Few Moments from My Sea Journal

We changed the watch 0800 7 May ‘72. Al went down the ladder of the salon. He stepped gingerly over Randy’s head, now looking like a mildewed haystack. He sat down, pulled off his socks, and studied feet that resembled white, wrinkled flounder. Then he lay belly flat on the deck, his feet on the bunk, his head in a yellow bucket.

Dan, eyes still shut, struggled to pull on his foul weather pants. Randy, roused, sat up on his bunk. Observing the prone doctor, the struggling shipmate, he shook with laughter. “This is insane,” he observed.

“No,” said I, surveying the scene from the cockpit. “It’s going to sea.”

We took a sea. A loose pocketbook flipped and struck Dan lightly on the forehead. He lost all the ground he’d been making with his pants.

Randy chuckled. “Nobody does things like this. At least more than once.”

Though all three crewmen were skilled Bay sailors, this was their first ocean passage.

“This is the tenth time your father and I’ve made this voyage. In the past year, we’ve sailed about six thousand miles. What with chartering, I’ve cooked about that many sea meals.”

“Insane,” Randy repeated.

I studied the rim of the horizon. The sun glazed the crest of the waves. “This is nature, kiddo.”

A wave slapped the hull. Dan lost his battle with his pants and fell backward on the bunk. “This is not nature,” he said. “Nature is babbling brooks, pine trees and squirrels …”

“It’s a nut house,” Randy interrupted.

Al sat, tailor fashion, with yellow bucket between his legs. He started to chuckle.

Randy studied the pallor on the dentist’s face. “You know, Dr. Parmentier, what is really insane is that your wife, your friends, your patients all think you’re out here having a good time.”

Al’s shoulders shook. Even his flounder-white feet shook with laughter. “I know, I know,” he kept repeating. If you knew what I went through to get this time …”

The salon jangled with pandemonium. The skipper yelled from the aft cabin, “What’s going on down there?”

Don got his foul weather pants on and took over the watch. The doctor said, “Chesapeake, here we come — just like the Ark and the Dove.”

After we sailed past St. Mary’s City, after we docked near the dogwoods in St. Indigos Creek, after we took hot baths and squared away the boat, Randy said, “Now, that wasn’t so bad.”

This is called seaman’s amnesia. The pain is not forgotten but overwhelmed by the impact of being involved with life.

What’s happened since 1972 to the crew that sailed into the Chesapeake:

Vi and Glen Englund found their land legs and opened a travel agency. They own a 16-foot sloop, a 14-foot wood Pen Yan built in 1958, and a canoe — of course with a sail. They admire the view from their home on the Potomac.

Al Parmentier is still a dentist in California, Md. He owns a 35-foot sailboat, cruises the Chesapeake and has made several ocean passages as captain.

Randy Englund, a paint contractor, races his 16-foot sailboat in the San Diego Bay.

Dan Parker worked in the Merchant Marine and holds a 300-ton captain’s license. He and his Frances run the family business, Carlson Travel Network/Traveltours of Maryland.

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The Thrills of Catch-and-Release Rock Fishing

Are Not So Cheap

… Once Hooked, Many Die

From many directions comes pressure on the Department of Natural Resources to allow the catch and release of rockfish in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries when neither the spring trophy season nor the fall regular season is underway.

One might get the impression that sentiment is unanimous for fishing for rock anytime — and almost anywhere in tidal waters — if all caught out of season are promptly released. But that impression is wrong. This writer is a skeptic, and thinks he is not alone.

Watch Out for Speeding Bandwagons

This is not to infer that I — or those who might also have reservations — are against year ‘round fishing and in-season keeping for rock. Instead, we’re reluctant to hop on the bandwagon before we know more about the subject, how it would be implemented and what its results might be.

We’re looking at just another dilemma of natural resources management where a program with one good effect — increasing recreational opportunities — could have a bad effect on the resource itself. Under such circumstances, we need some answers before we go forward.

Programs such as these cannot be designed by trial and error, especially with rockfish. If fisheries managers make a mistake in implementing a catch-and-release program, the resulting damages might not be obvious for several years. In the meantime, we have killed fish that could be needed to restore rockfish.

Sure it sound nice to think of fishing for and catching rockfish at any time while keeping them only within season. Ah, only if it was that simple. Catch a rockfish, enjoy both the challenge and the fight, then let it go, and try to catch it another day.

In theory, great. In practice, I’m not sure.

Those who promote the plan — and in front of the pack are my outdoor writer colleagues Angus Phillips of the Washington Post and Gene Mueller of the Washington Times — make it appear that catching and releasing has no impact on the individual fish. You let it go, it swims away, rests up and will once again be available to participate in future spawning missions and to bite the hooks of fishermen along the coast.

Fighting for Life

This contradicts scientific reality. Hooked fish fight for their lives. They endure not only physical injuries from the hook, injuries from flopping on a deck, sometimes rough handling by well-intentioned anglers, and such, but they also suffer stress. Stress is that part of the fight we oftentimes can’t visually detect.

The fish we put back into the water — whether we drop it several feet or ease it back into the drink tenderly and caringly — might immediately dart for the deep seemingly none the worse for its encounter with the hook. But countless studies here and elsewhere offer solid information that some of these fish so frisky when set free eventually die from problems associated with the fight.

A fish such as the rock fights vigorously to avoid being caught. Its instincts tell it that it is big trouble. What happens within that fish during the fight for its life is too complicated to go into here in depth, so let us just say it drains its energy reserves. It becomes vulnerable to a multitude of things.

Not infrequently the consequences of stress linger more than the few moments many fishermen think. In addition, other factors are at work within that fish. Weakened, it is more vulnerable to predators until its body regains full health and energy; and equally or more important is vulnerable to disease, water temperatures, oxygen content and salinity. Let’s take a look.

DNR hook-and-release rockfish studies of several years ago revealed salinity has much to do with hooking-survival rates among the species. The farther down the Bay you go, the better the survival rate — and who needs be reminded that the farther down the Bay you go the higher the salinity?

The higher the salt content of the water, the better the healing process. In tests in the fresher Susquehanna area, little more than half the fish released survived over the long haul although released properly and apparently in fair shape.

Oxygen content, of course, has much to do with survival. Fish need oxygen. Generally, the warmer the water, the less oxygen content. Shallow waters warm more quickly, which can mean less oxygen. However, deep waters can also have less oxygen. Water is a fragile environment in which temperatures are just one oxygen-associated problem. The algae blooms responsible for many of our fish-kills deplete oxygen, as do pollutants.

Warm water also makes many species of fish, among them rockfish, lethargic and more vulnerable to many maladies. What’s more, “hot” water affects them somewhat like us in being discomforting. All of this is just part of the problem in rushing into catch-and-release programs.

Let us not forget that hooks can hurt fish. They don’t always just snag jaw tissue. Some fish are hungrier or otherwise more aggressive than others and swallow lures and baits deeper. Barbs can be set in the upper parts of the mouth, but they can also go deeper into the throat or be swallowed.

Deep or solid hooking involves not only the primary injury but also the damage done in freeing the hook. Yanking on a hook broadens the wound; fish are handled while the hook’s being removed. Jaws can be damaged, too much pressure can be exerted on the body and vital organs while being grasping, scales can be torn free, increasing the risk of infection.

A Fish Out of Water

Let’s not forget that while all of this is going on, the fish is out of water. Its gill functions are shut down, creating incredible stress.

Landing a big fish and plopping it on the deck has many dangers. It doesn’t usually just lie there and wait for the hook to be removed. It vigorously pounds the deck, which makes its body, scales and organs vulnerable — and can also complicate hook wounds as the lure flies this way and that. The hook, line and fish can become entangled in a net (fortunately gaffing would be illegal), which requires more time and handling during which the fish is out of water.

So, you see, there’s more involved than just hooking and releasing even if all is done with the best of intentions. Which brings up still another aspect of this put-’em-back philosophy.

Macho Sportsmen

Some fishermen are afraid of big fish; others are, shall we say, reluctant to handle them. I am continually remind of this by fishermen who are disinclined to place their hands inside a rockfish’s mouth. Some are apprehensive about teeth (no need to worry about them with rock); others are concerned the jaws can hurt their hands (they can’t if handled properly); and still others realize that the sharp spines of fins can inflict momentarily painful punctures.

In short, many fishermen handle fish improperly. Many more want to prolong the release part of catch-and-release to get a picture or two — and that means getting out the camera, holding the fish, focusing, clicking, and “hey, wait, just one more shot …” All the while the fish is out of water and probably with a holding hand inserted into its gillplate, inflicting damage to the fish’s oxygen-processing system.

Keep in mind while all this is going on, the warmer the weather and the less salinity in the water, the more damage will eventually result.

Undoubtedly many fishermen will dispute some of the handling problems raised here. To them, I say observe your colleagues when fishing. Hats off to those who do it right, but I’ll wager not half of them do. And most would be reluctant to admit they don’t — or worse, don’t know how to.

Among fishermen and hunters, there are macho associations. Participants like to be considered experts and/or authorities. Who dare think they’re not doing what’s right, morally and practically? Let’s refer to the past deer season.

In several special hunts, DNR and others involved (including the Smithsonian at its West River facility) asked that hunters show proficiency with rifled slug-loaded shotguns before gaining their permits. Sounds reasonable.

Yet at the Smithsonian, more than one-half of the 218 applicants failed the test. They had five shots but couldn’t put a slug into a pie plate at 40 yards. Basically the same results were repeated elsewhere under the new permit program that spares deer painful wounds and possible agonizing death later.

Who would have thought so many licensed hunters could be so deficient in a vital part of their sport? Who dares think that licensed fishermen could be so deficient in releasing fish? Pointing a gun doesn’t make a hunter; knowing which end of the rod a reel goes on doesn’t make a fisherman.

A massive educational program would be needed to make catch-and-release rockfishing sound recreation. Easier said than done. Also to be considered:

1. The importance of the time of year: certainly not in warmed waters of midsummer.

2. Areas where allowed: the upper Bay complex, upper reaches of tributaries and areas where waters get well above 80 degrees in summer could pose problems galore.

3. Lure and bait restrictions: should barbless hooks be required so they can be easily removed? How about damaging treble or other multiple hooks? Live or real baits that fish tend more to swallow deep?

4. Is hook-and-release needed? Charterboat skippers have emphatically said it wouldn’t help their business because their parties want fish they can take home. Fortunately, most fishermen are as satisfied with fishing as they are with catching, so that argument (if valid, which I doubt) can’t be considered the final word on interest in the catch and release concept.

Currently, we have regulations that prohibit intentionally fishing for rock out of season. There have been many warnings, both verbal and written, and several citations, including at least two convictions for violating this regulation. But judges are hard to convince that this or that fisherman was intentionally fishing for rock even though he hooked and released one after another in a particular spot while under surveillance. Can’t argue with that too much because a fisherman can target a certain species with his lure selection, but he can’t guarantee that species will take the hook.

Of course, many fishermen intentionally violate current regulations by targeting rock out of season. They brag about it in tackle shops and among themselves, but weeding them out is virtually impossible.

Present fisheries management guidelines that grant catch quotas to each state also weigh overall species mortality from fish kept in season. Hooking mortalities are among them. The more non-keeping mortality figured into quotas, the less the keeping quota. That’s as it should be when a system is based on overall mortality.

So we open a season to hook-and-release. The existence of such a season will attract more fishing pressure on rock, more fishermen will participate, more deaths will result from hooking — and eventually the less the keeping quota will drop. It doesn’t take a fishing scientist to understand that.

Yet catch-and-release does offer a valuable recreational opportunity: no one can deny that. But it isn’t a season we can rush into. There’s much to be studied and evaluated, restrictions to be considered, and fishermen to be educated. Like many things, this is not as simple as it seems. Enough said.


Don’t Open Your Umbrella

It’s official after a year of conflicting interpretation; DNR’s chief Frank Wood said the so-called multiple hook umbrella rig is illegal when fishing for rockfish. Don’t, as many do, confuse the umbrella rig — which contains four or more small surgical hoses with hooks and one or more others as hookless teasers — with the new parachute bucktail, which is a single lure with single hook. It’s also more effective in white or luminous green shades for trollers than any other rockfish bait, including the banned umbrella.

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Earth Journal

Togetherness is the theme these warm sunny days.

From kitchen’s winter window, I’ve often watched a lone waterman at work on his land-locked crab boat. Now with the sun, other crabbers have arrived. The men stand in twos and threes drinking from styrofoam cups — gesturing, laughing, getting in gear for the hard work of the coming season. Getting ready to return to the water.

In the yard, birds gather — pairs of bright cardinals, flocks of handsome aggressive grackles, sparrows as interested in dried grasses for nesting as in fattening with seed. Out along the Bay, kingfishers whir and click like small mechanical machines, wings flailing whirly-gig fashion, to draw me away from their nesting hole high up in the clay cliff wall.

Farther along the cliff’s edge, a trio of girls, expecting the day to be as warm as its brilliant sun, shiver together under a stray plastic sheet. Finally they run giggling home for the more certain warmth of jackets and long pants.

Out across the water, sailboats run in pairs crossing turquoise sails with white for a long moment’s vision.

On Friday, along the edge of the salt marsh, we note that tundra swans have flown with the latest full moon. With their departure, a pair of mute swans takes possession of the marsh lake. Now, our attention is caught by movement in the water just off the road. Mute swans are mating, he on she. Then, quick as looking, they’re side by side, rubbing arched neck against arched neck. As quickly, they’re now back to scouring the watery brine for food.

Sunday, on the verge of the sun-warmed road, hundreds of beetles frolic. A closer look makes us laugh. This mating is not like any we’ve seen before. Two red-marked black beetles seem attached, end to end. The larger one runs onward through grass and branch seemingly oblivious to the other running as fast backwards. This is not an isolated case. Pairs of beetles are everywhere — one running forward, the other backward. From time to time, a third beetle jumps on top in a spring riot of togetherness.

Farther down the road, tadpoles flourish in rust-colored water scummed with auto oils. A muskrat swims hurriedly up the ditch, running into his hole panic-stricken as we step up our pace. His companion splashes out of a deeper puddle into the next hole.

Neighbors wave and visit, wondering who’s had a glimpse of the two newest neighborhood babies. Horses nuzzle. Is it the new foal in the next pasture they’re nickering over?

Dogs linger over scents of others’ passing: a walk is a slow event in this season when even scents mingle.

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Diversions and Excursions

Bed, Breakfast and Birds:

What More Could You Want in a Romantic Getaway?

by Farley Peters

Fowl are flocking. Where I live on the Western Shore, we are graced by several dozen swans, occasional ducks and periodic waves of geese flying above. They are the companions of my early morning walks. But I am now bedeviled by the sights I saw from that “other shore” — the Eastern one — when I visited around Chestertown.

My friend and I wanted to get away — not too far, but far enough. The Chestertown area, under an hour from Annapolis, offers abundant accommodations for Bed & Breakfast lovers. It has the added feature of the nearby Eastern Neck Wildlife Refuge — 2285 acres where the Chester River meets the Bay. The refuge is a major feeding and nesting ground for migratory and wintering waterfowl.

Where to stay was a difficult decision. Chestertown is filled with charming stores and many fine establishments. The White Swan Tavern and the Imperial Inn are fairly renowned and attractive, but we opted for the space and wilds of the country. Plus a working fireplace.

Despite its Chestertown address, the Inn at Mitchell House stood far outside the town, closer to another area attraction, the town of Rock Hall, which is a small working harbor on the Bay.

We chose well. Beyond the brick and mortar, this three-story 17th century inn offered a friendly, informal atmosphere, country seclusion and a charming openness. It also had great flair and humor. Inside was a spacious, formal living room and an informal parlor for sitting and other leisurely pursuits.

The kitchen is almost worth the price of admission. Not only does it have its own fireplace but also a huge elk head overseeing preparations. You might also run into Barley, the big lovable dog who calls this inn his home.

In our ample yet cozy second-floor room was our own personal fireplace, a couch, wooden floors and a view to remember. And never fear: there is no television to distract you from the many important things hereabouts

You didn’t need to be a detective to know a little about the proprietors, Jim and Tracy Stone. From the Christmas cards on the wall from former presidents, you discover that Tracy once worked at the White House. (When you see the Inn at Mitchell House, you’ll understand that she probably doesn’t miss it.) Jim, meanwhile, is a licensed boat captain.

Outside, we observed that this is a place to visit year-round. But wintertime here is just spectacular. When we walked out to get our luggage, we were flanked left and right by geese. Over and above, beyond us and everywhere! Dusk had fallen, and in the nearby cornfield, many hundreds of geese, maybe thousands of them, were preparing to take flight.

We gawked at the flying fowl so perfectly posed before a full and brilliant moon, just broken from the clouds. Our hostess assured us, as we peered up toward the sky, that we could gawk all we like, for geese do not poop in flight.

Beyond the sight was the sound. Their honking and squawking, clatter and banter rarely ceased except for grazing and sleep. When they slept, we let the magic of the Bay, the charm of the inn and our perfect fire seep in.

With morning, the geese returned. We heard several waves fly over. Then came more and more in search of feeding grounds for the day. We began our day slowly, exploring the Inn's secluded grounds — complete with a pond, gardens, and woods, hoping our luck would carry us to more adventure in the wilds of the refuge.

Welcoming us there were swans reminiscent of my home waters. We followed a boardwalk over the wetlands to a magnificent observatory. From our perch we could look over 180 degrees of waterways, flush with fowl in numbers I have never seen before.

Aided by binoculars, we were able to capture some detail. But mostly we were awed by sight, sound and sense of mingled flocks of tundra swans, Canada geese and over a dozen species of ducks.

On our way out of the ranger station, we found our chance to get closer. In a cornfield right off the road, geese grazed unsuspectingly and quietly. Creeping up to get as close as we could, we startled hundreds of birds into squawking flight before us. In moments, they took flight in one field and then yet another.

Our wildlife hunger fed, we continued with our journey. We had been counseled that St. Paul's Episcopal Church, founded in 1693, was right along our route and worth a visit. Besides history, it claims the burial site of Tallulah Bankhead. Several hundred tombstones later, we were still in search of Tallulah’s resting place. Though we never found it, we enjoyed visiting the quaint old church and its lovely, historic grounds.

The region offers a bounty of other fine attractions — Mt. Harmon Plantation, Remington Farms (both closed in winter). The once-thriving beach resort of Betterton is undergoing a revival. Here, locals claim, is the only jellyfish-free beach on the Eastern Shore. Perhaps we will return for more of these adventures, and maybe ride the passenger catamaran that I hear tell runs from Rock Hall to Baltimore and Annapolis.

Meanwhile I keep wondering how to could attract more of these waterfowl closer to home. Here we are, under one of the world’s great flyways Maybe if we just plant less tobacco and more corn, winter wheat and rye — the grains these birds like — we could win some birds to our side of the Bay.

For reservations, call Jim or Tracy Stone, proprietors of the Inn at Mitchell House: 410/778-6500.

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Laughing Gourmet

Love is Like Chocolate

Ah February! The year’s second month brings Groundhog Day to remind us that winter is a temporary chill. Now Valentine’s Day invites us to rekindle the flames of inner warmth.

I would like

to fall in love with you

one more time

and you with me

because the sky here

is so grey this February:

the sun’s gone in and

the fire’s gone out —

maybe I don’t even have a fireplace


But I remember days

the sparks were so hot

the roof burned

I did burn too —

maybe once more?

Dumb old winter weather.

Every year in kids and people old enough to know better, St. Valentine’s awakens anticipation of something special coming. No doubt the combination of winter’s waning and sweet memories of the exchange of chocolates, cards and flowers explain those heightened expectations.

There’s a better reason for that little flutter.

“Love brings a giddy response similar to an amphetamine high,” says researcher Michael R. Leibowitz of the New York State Psychiatric Institute.

Phenylethylamine is our bodies’ chemical code for the experience of love. It’s a drug — in fact, the “model compound for both the amphetamines and psychoactive drugs” — that stimulates the sense of euphoric well-being, the acute longing, the aching of the chest (in the region of the heart) that everybody recognizes as love.

Love is such a powerful stimulant that, says Leibowitz, “breakup is much like amphetamine withdrawal.” That all-too-familiar condition of frustration and depression is acutely painful as being in love was pleasurable.

A broken heart can’t be quickly mended, but love’s withdrawal can be palliated. And you knew the cure all along. Want to guess?

Give up?


In their throes, love junkies — those among us who, possibly for reasons of an “unstable control mechanism or an acquired or inherited defect” crave the phenylethylamine high as urgently as any addict does a fix — found relief in chocolate binges, Leibowitz observed. “Chocolate is loaded with phenylethylamine.”

At least chemically, one “love object” is as good as another so long as the phenylethylamine runneth over.

And that, folks, is why we give and get chocolates on Valentine’s Day. For the current lover, chocolates keep the intensity high. For the absent lover, chocolates say “Remember me.” For the straying lover, chocolates fill in the gap. And for the long-time lover, chocolates say “Remember when.”

Come on, Valentine’s Day. Bring on the phenylethylamine!

Chocolate is Laughing Gourmet’s Valentine’s currency. Enjoy your lovely high.


4 large ripe bananas

1/3 C cocoa powder (unsweetened)

3T honey

2T water, coffee or tea

1T liqueur

1/2t vanilla

Peel bananas and cut into chunks about 1/2” long. Freezer solid (2 hours or overnight). Remove from freezer and let thaw for about 15 minutes, until partially softened.

While bananas soften, combine cocoa, honey, liquid and liqueur in a small saucepan and whisk until lumps disappear. Over medium heat, stir until blended and hot. Add vanilla. If sauce is too thick, add more of the liquid of your choice.

Put the bananas in your steel blade processor and pulse until smooth and fluffy, about 30 seconds total.

Divide puree between four dishes and top with chocolate sauce, cherry and nuts.

Chocolate “Almost” Truffles

1C semi-sweet chocolate chips

3T sour cream

1-1/2t coffee powder

1T coffee-flavored liqueur

cocoa powder

Combine sour cream and liqueur, then coffee powder; stir until smooth. In a double boiler over hot water, melt chocolate chips and sour cream mixture. Set aside about a cup of cocoa powder in a shallow bowl. Stir chocolate until melted, remove from water, and set on counter until it cools partially.

With a teaspoon, scrape off enough chocolate to form a small 1” ball. Working quickly, roll it very briefly between your palms and drop into the cocoa powder. Your truffles shouldn’t be perfectly smooth but rough and uneven. Roll balls in powder.

Put your truffles in candy cups or on a waxed paper-covered tray. They’ll keep for about a week refrigerated. Remove about 20 minutes before serving.

Makes about 24.


For each serving:

1/3C dark rum

1T hot chocolate mix

1C water, heated to boiling

1 pat butter

1 cinnamon stick

Add chocolate to boiling water. Lace with rum. Top with butter. Swirl with cinnamon.


Crepe Batter:

2 eggs

1/2C sugar

3T unsweetened cocoa powder

1C milk (not skim)

1C flour (whole wheat pastry flour is good)

1/4t salt

3T melted butter

1/4C chocolate liqueur

Crepes can be made a long time ahead and stored, with waxed paper between, in the freezer. For same day use, make the batter in the morning; a long rest in the fridge won’t hurt.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs until frothy. Stir in sugar, cocoa, flour and salt. Gradually stir in milk, then butter and liqueur. Let rest for 1 hour before using. (If mixture isn’t thin enough to pour, gently stir in another few tablespoons of milk.)

Wipe a 6” frying pan or iron crepe pan with a paper towel moistened with vegetable oil (or use a spray). Heat over medium high heat and pour in just enough batter to cover the pan with a thin layer (a 1/4C measure is an easy guide). The batter should be thin enough to spread quickly and cook within 45 seconds.

Bubbles will form on the surface of the crepe. Using either a spatula or your fingertips if you want to be a show-off, turn the crepe and cook another 30 seconds. Slide out of the pan onto a flat plate. Repeat until all the batter is used up.

Fruit Filling:

4 pears, peeled, cored and sliced lengthwise

1 qt water with 2t lemon juice, in a bowl

1/2 stick of butter (or frying spray)

1/2C brown sugar

1/3C raisins

1/2t cinnamon

1/4C rum or fruit juice

juice of two oranges

Put peeled pears in acidulated water until ready to use. Melt butter in large skillet; drain pears, pat dry on paper towels, and add to butter in hot skillet. Sprinkle with brown sugar, add raisins and cook, stirring, until sugar melts. Add orange juice, cinnamon and liquid, stirring constantly. Cook for about 2 minutes until sugar and juice form a sauce. Remove from heat. Can be made in advance and heated up.

Garnish with powdered sugar and strawberries

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Politics ‘94

Maryland’s elections this year promise to be as confusing and turbulent as any in recent memory. We’ve got a gaggle of unknowns (women among them) running for governor.

The population has shifted southward out of Baltimore. Will the power go with it?

What’s more, folks are still mad at politicians and convinced that government doesn’t work for them.

People have been wanting to know what role we will be playing. Is New Bay Times a Democratic paper? they ask.


Then you must be Republican, they say.


Well, what the heck are you?

When it comes to electoral politics, we will be nothing like you see elsewhere. We will be looking hard at issues and what they mean to people; at the character and past performance of candidates.

We don’t think party affiliations mean much any more. Nor will we turn over our pages for the usual name-calling and confusion. You won’t need hip boots reading New Bay Times.

We believe that many politicians have fed us false solutions.

Not here. We will tell you just where they stand on the Chesapeake Bay and on matters that affect the lives of Baysiders. We will hold their feet to the fire when it comes to our civil liberties and making government work.

So stay tuned. And let us know what you’re thinking and how we can represent you in the Campaign of ‘94.

Sen. Fowler — Adios or So Long?

Yes, we do kick politicians in the seats of their pants. But we also congratulate them when they serve us.

So we note with regret the decision by Maryland State Sen. C. Bernard Fowler to forego re-election. Fowler, 69, a Democrat, has represented Southern Maryland since 1983, doing extra duty on behalf of the Bay and the Patuxent River.

Fowler’s announcement comes on the heels of the announced departure of another Bay advocate, Sen. Gerald Winegrad.

Fowler is widely known for wading with his allies shoulder-deep into the Patuxent every year to gauge the water quality. The goal? Seeing his toes, like he did as a child.

He’s been a catalyst for cleaning up the Bay and its rivers since the 1970s, when he was a Calvert County commissioner. Recently, he’s been a watchdog over landfill siting and a voice for wise development policies.

Fowler hinted during an interview that he’d be interested in the nomination for lieutenant governor. His strength, he points out, is carrying water for the Bay without alienating people.

Is he worried that the Bay has fewer and fewer voices in the General Assembly? You bet. He observes that few members grew up along the Bay, as he did.

“They didn’t make their living from the water,” he says. “I don’t see the kind of people who will really dig in and look for solutions. There may be someone in the Senate who will take over. But right now, I don’t see any angel emerging.”

Fowler says he will remain active on behalf of the Bay. Let’s hope he has the platform to make it worthwhile — so that soon, we can all see our toes.

A Confederacy of Snitches?

We noticed a little box in the daily paper that reaches us advertising the Underage Drinking Hotline. Suspect a teen of taking a nip? Grab the phone and a police cruiser will blaze out to investigate.

First off, we don’t think kids can make it in this competitive world if they’re mush-headed from alcohol. We spend a lot of time here at New Bay Times preaching healthful living and the value of exercise and outdoor activities.

We also talk about values, community and personal responsibility. And we wonder whether it’s healthy becoming an informant or getting informed on — unless there’s an awfully good reason. We wonder, too, if our police have the time to check out that kid at the third video game in the arcade when there’s real crime afoot.

The “X” generation — 18-24 year-olds — has it tough enough in a world where the best jobs they can find are flipping each other’s hamburgers. Are we teaching them that the way to solve problems is with secret phone calls?

Why not a jobs hotline? Just maybe, young folks should have a number of their own to ring up when they see adults misbehave. Dial: 1-800/BACK-OFF.

Retiring Friends

Chesapeake environmentalists are getting too much bad new these days. First came the announcement that Anne Arundel County State Sen. Jerry Winegrad wouldn’t seek reelection. Sen. Fred Malkus of Dorchester County came next, and now Calvert County’s Sen. Bernie Fowler’s followed. Add to that Idamae Garrott of Montgomery County, and the Senate’s core of Bay defenders is decimated. Malkus was best known for some questionable environmental thinking — which at time upset some green groups — but the bottom line is he is a staunch and effective Bay defender. We won’t have many left after this session.


Political Maneuvering

Maybe you can’t fight City Hall, but you can fight County Council. Just ask the residents of Anne Arundel, who did just that recently.

Their battle: a new zoning law that’s been in the works for a year and a half. Just when council members thought it was safe to finally take a vote and clear it off their calendar, residents made one more push. And won. Instead of passing the law, the politicians killed it by abstaining and voting no.

The persuasion came during a public hearing held just before the council meeting. Residents (and voters, an important point) representing 12 community organizations pleaded for more time to study the controversial law. Their beefs included how much to set back property and how to restrict medical and recycling facilities in residential neighborhoods. Michael Bridgland of St. Stephens Area Civic Association explained, “We want a voice in how neighborhoods are shaped.”

Bridgland and his neighbors will have a chance to be heard again, and soon. Council members promised this issue is gone but not forgotten. The battle will be over just who gets the last word.

Calvert Crusaders

Those Calvert County voters are turning up the heat this winter. They’re warming up for a busy political season and getting their members and issues organized and prioritized.

Calvert Future Vision is continuing to grow. Now with over 100 members, they’re focusing on controlling and managing growth in the county. Pleased that Calvert is one of the first counties in the state to pass “mandatory clustering” a strategy to preserve farm and forestland while developing. They want to make sure the trend continues.

To assure that, they’re drawing up a voter education “scorecard” to evaluate candidates running for the County Commission this year. Vision’s mission is to “protect the natural, social and economic environments of Calvert County through political action.” Although only a few months old, the group meets each month to first educate, then motivate their neighbors to get involved by writing letters and attending more meetings.

Member Nita Sylvester explains, “We want to make sure things on the books get enforced.” She adds that members will be out in force this spring, when the group holds its big Environmental Forum in April.

Political Ethics

Political ethics. No, it’s not a contradiction in terms. It’s a part of Anne Arundel County government. When Jim Jones recently dropped in to the County Council meeting to introduce himself as the new Ethics Commission Director, he was met with a warm reception. Big surprise. What politician wouldn’t want to cozy up to Mr. Jones?

At the County Council meeting, Jones said howdy and asked if the members had any questions for him. Councilman David Boschert joked, no, but “I hope we don’t have to answer too many questions in front of you!” Jones smiled and reminded the public stewards the ethics law will be revised this year. He’ll be back.

Green Games

In the dead of Norway’s winter, there will be some green at this year’s Olympic Games. The country is trying to be environmentally correct as it hosts the world’s athletes and fans.

Folks will be using plates, knives and forks made of potato starch instead of plastic. Ski trails will be on slopes in cultivated forests, not virgin timber. Coca-Cola is using wooden signs instead of neon.

Norway’s efforts are voluntary, but when Sydney, Australia hosts the games in the year 2000, such measures will be mandatory. The Olympic committee will impose environmental guidelines to ring in the new century.

Meanwhile, our future hosts to the south in Atlanta say they’ll take some environmental measures, but don’t have a formal plan just yet.

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Sky Talk - In the Sky

Sunrise, backing up toward 7AM this time of year, projects a parfait on the eastern sky, layering apricot atop blue-black darkness. Above the apricot, a layer the color of moon beams eases into a thin morning blue.

‘Round about 6PM, the parfait reappears in the western sky.

From Sky to Field

No matter what the groundhog says, the noonday sun feels spring-is-coming warm some days. Above Davidsonville, that warm sky was abuzz with birds: maybe one of those flights of grackles we’ve been noticing. No, says the other watcher, they’re too big, and soon I agree. Next, about as skillfully as a kindergartner, they seem to be drawing a “V.” With the third clue — white bellies — the big birds reveal themselves as Canada geese.

The fields must be warming, too. Down Muddy Creek road an hour or so later, all those geese are lunching. Like the Snow geese I’ve been seeing on the Sudley Road, they’re gleaning the leftover grain, regardless of the mud.

At the Feeder:

After two months of no visitors, we took our thistle feeder in for the winter. Immediately a goldfinch showed up at our big bird feeder, so out went the more delicate thistle again. Now as many as seven or eight goldfinches are regular thistle eaters.

As the snow melted, a flock of 15 mourning doves landed on the asphalt shingles of the small flat roof of our basement entry. They scratched and cooed, so we threw out some millet. They fled, but the cardinals seemed to like millet. Perhaps like chickens and geese, the doves just need some grit in their diet.

An unfamiliar sight: Grackles flocking, as they do spring and fall. The whole flock seems to have landed on neighbor Lee’s deck, where she’s begun feeding now that bad weather has diminished the threat of her big pussycat — Murf doesn’t like to go out in bad weather. Corn is what draws those grackles, along with starlings and cowbirds. She says she’s glad to have them.

Good, because we’d rather the grackles, starlings and cowbirds in their Franciscan habits weren’t visiting our feeder. But the new mix adds some corn to the millet and oily sunflower seed, and there that hungry trio is in the coldest weather, gobbling up corn and seed, while the cardinals, chickadees and tits look on. But grackles, starlings and cowbirds visit our house only in the coldest weather, doing their regular feeding, I suppose, at our neighbor’s corn patch.

The icy morning we were bringing that new feed home will stay in memory. That’s the morning a startlingly blue bluebird darted in plain sight along the side of the same country road we were traveling.

Broadcast on the frozen ground under the Blue Atlas Cedar, instead of on asphalt roofing shingles, our new seed lured a rufous-sided tohee, whose gleefully “rufous” chestnut sides are quite the dashing contrast to this big bird’s black hood and white belly.

In Your Mind’s Eye

Radishes and green onions are outgrowing their seeds, stretching their long limbs, ready to pop out of bed. In your mind’s eye, at least. But it won’t be long till your dream can go aground.

“Radishes and green onions don’t mind the cold,” advises Dr. Aref Abdul-Baki, the Beltsville Agricultural Center’s “alternative” vegetable scientist. “Put them in as soon as the ground thaws.” Sweet peas and lettuce should follow.

Buy your seeds now so what you’re imagining can happen in Mother Nature’s warming womb. Any day now, spring planting will begin.

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