We’ve Saved the Best for Last

For a few moments this time of year, it’s possible to escape into weightless time. The Christmas Express has arrived and gone, so you no longer need to keep up to speed. 2010, that admirably round year, has nearly run its course. But not quite.

Now’s the time to wrap up old projects. Now’s the time to call the roll of the past year, look at what we’ve achieved — and conceive our hopes for the new year.

In that reflective spirit, Bay Weekly’s last issue of the year brings you the Best of the Bay.

In the prime of 2010, we asked you to vote for the people, places and occasions that make your life in Chesapeake Country most rewarding. You cast your votes, we counted them — make that intern Aries Matheos counted them, and count she did, for days on end. And at year’s end, we complete the cycle with publication and celebration of the winners. 

For the winners — as top Best of the Bay vote-getter John Kozick of Skipper’s Pier in Deale told me — your approval is the culmination of a year of working every day to do and be your best. That’s worth celebrating.

Read on to find all the winners. Like Kozick, many accepted our invitation to explain what they do to make your experience the best. In their words, you’ll learn their secrets of success.

As well as a reflection on achievement in 2010, the Best of the Bay is a guide for the new year. I hope you’ll use it to expand your knowledge of Chesapeake Country, to compare readers’ 2010 judgments with your own and to spend your money and time wisely.

This last Bay Weekly of the year — Vol. xviii, no 52 — is also my occasion to look back over a year of stories and to look ahead.

There’s Katie Dodd in the first issue of the heavy volume book that now encompasses 51 issues, doing hot yoga. Back for a Christmas visit from Sweden, her home for the next two years, Katie tells me she’s still doing hot yoga — and still running to improve on her 10-mile performance she also wrote about in Bay Weekly.

There in the second issue is my tribute to Mr. Boy, my household cat from the first year of Bay Weekly to the 18th. A new kitty — Jungle Bob, aka Pinky — has moved in. He has promise, but it’s way too soon to know how he’ll compare to our Boy.

There in No. 3 is Tom Wisner, Bard of the Bay, who made us a model for living in his death as mindfully as he did in life.

And in No. 4 our Dining Guide, toward whose 2011 reprise our wheels are already turning.

On Valentine’s Day, newlywed Mark Burn’s engagement story, “The Smell of Love.” For making black history, Margaret Tearman’s profile of ‘Hawk’ Hawkings, second in command in Maryland Natural Resources Police.

Come March, Amy Russell began her serial journey in the Vegetable Kingdom, learning to eat — and cook — her veggies by hooking up with Community Supported Agriculture.

In April, we began a serial exploration of individual efforts to restore oysters to the Bay by saving shell and growing oyster gardens.

May’s issues brought the Blue Angles, the season of music festivals and our annual Summer Guide, 101 Ways to Have Fun on the Bay.

In June, mapmaker Dave Linthicum guided us to fun and history paddling the Patuxent River. 

July’s book issue still has us reading; and we learned how Marylander Nolan Smith was spending his summer vacation after helping Duke win the NCAA championship.

In August, you sent us your best pet photos, and a cat took best of show in the dog days of summer.

September introduced you to Chesapeake neighbors at work and explained how wind can be your best energy buy nowadays.

November brought recipes for Chesapeake chefs’ favorite side dishes to accompany the uniquely Maryland thanksgiving dish, Southern Maryland stuffed ham.

Now it’s December … and I look forward to filling 2011 just as densely with good stories — or as a proper Southern Maryland stuffed ham is packed with kale, cabbage, onions and spices. 

I’ll serve that ham on New Year’s Eve — and return to you in 2011.