view counter

All (All)

So far, it’s just a surmise

Could it be pilot whales?    
    What was Clara Gouin’s surmise as she made quick assessment of the marine pod swimming beneath the Chesapeake Bay Bridge just as she and Bay Gardener Dr. Francis Gouin crossed by truck above.
    “Driving over the Bay Bridge at 50 miles an hour, you don’t have a lot of time,” she said. “But looking straight down, I saw these large, dark shapes, at least 10 feet long, maybe more, with big blunt heads like whales, very dark, all under water. I saw their outlines, their shadows.”
    One was particularly well defined. “It was quite large and had huge pectoral flippers on each side, and it was paddling, using them in synchrony, at right angles.”
    Awed at a sight “I’ve never been privileged to see,” Gouin checked out the possibilities.
    Researching whales, she learned that pilots are a type of dolphin, thus cousins to the bottlenose dolphins that frequented the Chesapeake this year. Just this weekend — two days after Gouin’s sighting — two separate dolphin sightings were reported in the Rhode River, reports West-Rhode Riverkeeper Jeff Holland.
    Pilot whales leap like the now familiar bottlenose dolphins. But Gouin saw no leaping or dorsal fin showing.
    “I thought it could be dolphins,” Gouin said, but the silhouette was wrong, “too big and too dark.
    “I thought it could be manatees,” she said, but they, too, are smaller and usually solitary when they visit the Chesapeake.
    Whales seemed to fit the bill.
    Nonetheless, Gouin doubted herself. “I didn’t recall any visits by pilot whales,” she said, “but I noted online that they occasional do go into shallow bays as far north as Cape Cod.”
    Gouin also knew that humpbacks may be seen into the mouth of the Chesapeake
    Turning to experts at Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Marine Mammal Stranding Network got Gouin no closer to a reliable identification. But her report has passed up the ladder to the National Aquarium in Baltimore, which manages live sighting reports, as a possible sighting.
    Could there be pilot whales in the Chesapeake?
    “It could be,” said the Network’s Amanda Weschler, but no sightings had been reported.
    Tell us your experiences at ­editor@bayweekly.com.

Sightings up in warmer weather

Chesapeake Bay sees many migratory visitors, among them Canada geese, tundra swans and rockfish. The list occasionally includes Florida manatees. Colder waters generally keep the species south of us; most venture no farther than South Carolina or Georgia. But some males looking to expand their range can end up as far north as New England.
    “They start their migration in early spring and generally return to Florida in the fall when falling temperatures bring them back,” says Katie Tripp, director of Science and Conservation at the Save the Manatee Club in Florida.
    Many manatees have preferred habitats and will return to the same places year after year.
    In 1994, Chessie the wandering manatee called in many local ports. Newspapers and television recorded Chessie’s amblings. But cooling waters sent chills down the spines of manatee watchers who, fearing the object of their affections might succumb to hypothermia, set out on a Bay-wide chase. An elusive Chessie was at last caught, tranquilized and flown to the warmer Florida waters manatees are supposed to frequent. Apparently the grasses were greener in the Chesapeake. Chessie returned, visiting briefly in 1995 and reportedly again in 1996.
    “Since the early 1990s, there have been over 25 manatee sightings in Maryland,” reports Amanda Weschler, Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Stranding Coordinator for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Sightings are typically made by boaters or citizens on land near the water with photographic confirmation.
    Many more may have visited unseen.
    “They’re large, slow-moving animals, and they don’t breach the water like dolphins or whales, so a lot of the time they don’t get noticed,” says Cindy Driscoll, Maryland Department of Natural Resources State Fish & Wildlife Veterinarian.
    Most visiting manatees are behaving normally, feeding and swimming, and don’t need help returning to Florida. Occasionally, a manatee that is injured, sick or a little lost needs help.
    “The best thing to do if you spot a manatee in the Bay is to call 800-628-9944. That’s the Natural Resources Police number, and they will direct your call to the best responder, depending on the situation,” Driscoll advises.
    The National Aquarium in Baltimore responds when a live marine mammal, including a manatee, needs rescue. Maryland Department of Natural Resources responds to dead marine mammals and sea turtles.


Send your questions to chesapeakecuriosities@gmail.com.

Meet the World’s Most Admired Woman in her formative years

When Eleanor Roosevelt died in 1962, the widow of the 26th President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was called by the New York Times The World’s Most Admired Woman. The longest-serving first lady, she was also the tallest until Michelle Obama, at 5'11", met her mark. At a time when political wives were expected to be seen and not heard, she was an outspoken humanitarian, feminist, unionist and champion of racial reform. In an election year focused on another famously civic-minded first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt: Her Secret Journey, is a dynamic opener for Compass Rose Studio Theater’s sixth season.
    Based on a 1979 novel author Rhoda Lerman referred to as a fictional autobiography of Eleanor’s life from 1918 to 1922, this one-woman-show debuted in 1998 with Jean Stapleton. Composed of memories sparked by a phone call from President Truman asking her to speak at the newly formed United Nations, the script covers Eleanor’s formative years at home and in Paris during her husband’s tenure as assistant secretary of the Navy. An instructive and intimate peek at her privileged and turbulent life after the war to end all wars, this production is animated with great sensitivity by local favorites Sue Struve and director Rick Wade. Introspective and poetic, it examines her transition from naïveté to insight as she struggles with both worldview and marriage fraying at the seams.
    Here we see a dutiful woman manipulated by a domineering mother-in-law, a depressed wife betrayed by her unfaithful husband, a blushing mother of six as object of a GI’s flirtation, a sympathetic observer of desperate working women, war widows and soldiers haunted by PTSD.
    Now we see her engaged in political dialogue with the greatest minds of her time: Uncle Teddy Roosevelt, General Blackjack Pershing, Dorothy Strait and historian Henry Adams (of that other old presidential dynasty), who likens her to lead that turns to silver under pressure.
    We also meet Bernard Baruch (Woodrow Wilson’s confidante) who sends her roses and whom her husband refers to as a Hebrew and NOKD — not of our kind, dear. Quotes such as this, sprinkled throughout, convey the surprising notion that Franklin was not only an anti-Semite but also a ­chauvinistic jerk.
    Altogether we have a modern take on a pedigreed woman of a different time, as seen through the filter of a century’s progress and skewed to lionize her.
    For all that this monologue addressed, there is much that it does not: namely FDR’s 1921 polio affliction and Eleanor’s subsequent role as guardian of his vital image — and her conjectured bisexuality (which was addressed in a different drama following the publication of her personal letters in the year this play debuted.)
    Struve commands the stage, navigating a dozen speech patterns and physical postures as she segues through a parade of characters. Slender as the young Eleanor and dressed in a burgundy floral silk dress, Struve nevertheless conveys the matriarchal solidity of the elder’s patrician speech patterns and aristocratic mannerisms. Yet when she inhabits Teddy Roosevelt, you can see and hear his sportsman’s swagger.
    The set is simple: four pieces representing different times and locations, a phone and photo of Franklin and a slide show of personalities and headlines projected above the stage. Indeed, there is no place for Struve to hide, but she does not have to. These 70 minutes (without intermission) feels like a fascinating 50.
    I recommend this show to feminists, history buffs and social optimists of all stripes. This encore production, which debuted last summer at Compass Rose’s Play Festival, appears for a limited engagement only through October 9.


Director: Rick Wade. Stage manager and costumer: Beth Terranova. Lights: Frank Florentine. Sound: Kit Boidy and Ruth Cowgill.
 
Playing thru Oct. 9, FSa8pm, Su 2pm, Compass Rose Theater Company, 49 Spa Rd., Annapolis. $38 with discounts, rsvp: www.compassrosetheater.org.

Farewell, Joe Browder: 1938-2016

“Most of what became our woods in 1981 was a farm family’s pasture 40 years ago. We didn’t have the decades to wait for honey-scented flowers to appear again on their own timetable. We also wanted to be able to smell the wild azaleas of the Smokies and Blue Ridge, of the north Florida river forests and the Carolinas,” Joe Browder wrote in the third issue of New Bay Times, which would become Bay Weekly.
    On May 20, 1993, as the native azaleas bloomed, the gardener — Joe — had been at work a decade reshaping the “cut and regrown woods” surrounding the hilltop home he shared with his wife, Louise Dunlap. As well as those Hammocksweets — named, he noted, by “the word once used in the deepest South to describe a patch of woods in otherwise grassy, marshy low country” — he planted “14 other native American azalea species and hybrids.”
    Over 35 years, Joe’s woods matured into an encyclopedia of beloved species, diverse magnolias sharing place of pride with native azaleas, making “the air more fragrant, the woods
brighter, the hummingbirds’ and butterflies’ menus more diverse, our lives on the Bay richer.”
    In an era when “genetic genies are out of the bottle — with millions of non-native, nursery-bred azaleas planted in Bay country — Joe was not an advocate of punctilious correctness. He believed in making the best of the world in which we find ourselves and preserving what we have left. He not only planted but also lived and worked by that philosophy.
    Joe and Louise lived in Fairhaven, in Southern Anne Arundel County, overlooking Herring Bay. But they worked as environmental lobbyists in Washington. Political animals, we called them, for their intensity and ability to speak to all sides on an issue. Not all of Joe’s clients were perfect; some were genies well out of the bottle, interests that Browder could nudge into earth-friendlier directions.
    Joe balanced what must be by devoting himself, pro bono, to causes that, if lost, would make our world a far poorer place. In the Florida Everglades, Joe is being recalled as legendary for his success in holding back development.
    A former TV reporter in Florida turned advocate, Joe helped secure protections for the threatened Big Cypress Swamp, and he helped add vast swaths of sensitive lands and waters to the National Park system. He was a key player in stopping construction — already under way — of a destructive commercial airport in the Everglades.
    In a Miami Herald obituary this week, Nathaniel Reed, a former top Interior Department official, cited Joe’s “incredible energy and determination” that helped bring about an order from then President Richard Nixon to stop funding for the jetport.
    Closer to home, in the mid-1990s Joe negotiated between citizen advocates of SACReD — South County Citizens for Responsible Development — and then County Executive John Gary to broker the deal that preserved Franklin Point, Shady Side’s largest tract of undeveloped waterfront land. Franklin Point is now a 477-acre state park, supported by the West/Rhode Riverkeeper so it can be open daily from dawn to dusk.
    “We really do need to be careful,” Joe wrote in that reflection for old New Bay Times. “The air in these Fairhaven woods will be as sweet for the people who live here 40 years from now, if the families and communities of the Chesapeake are lucky, and vigilant.”
    Joe was vigilant, and we have been lucky — through, in no small part, the work he did to make it so.
    Joe and Louise had decades. They lived among azaleas and magnolias, in sight of Chesapeake waters for 35 years. But they did not have decades to lose. Joe Browder died, at home with Louise, in Fairhaven, Sunday, September 18, 2016.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher; editor@bayweekly.com

For my youngest’s 24th, a hard-fighting false ­albacore

It has been quite a while since I heard a reel drag shriek. I had to go to Florida to hear it — not once but three times in minutes.
    My youngest son, Rob, was holding the protesting rig as a powerful fish departed at speed. Harrison, my next oldest at 27, was live-lining a small pilchard farther down the pier when his reel also began to wail as line ripped off the spool.
    Their friend Matt then joined in the cacophony. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw his rod jerk down and the reel spool turn into a blur accompanied by another high-pitched drag howl.
    False albacore (average weight eight pounds) are one of the fastest fish in the sea at 40 knots. The boys were getting first-hand knowledge of just how speedy and powerful they can be. A first run in excess of 100 yards is about average on light tackle for this most numerous member of the tuna family.
    At the end of that run they’ve broken off, slipped the hook or paused, momentarily, to wonder where the rest of the school has gotten. That’s not the end of the fight, merely the beginning.
    The fact that all three of my party had hooked up, almost simultaneously, on that Florida fishing pier had nothing to do with my guidance, unless you count selecting the right mentor.
    The most convenient location to fish saltwater around Delray Beach, Florida — where my youngest is living and Harrison and I were visiting — was a long public fishing pier projecting into the ocean along the sandy eastern Florida shoreline.
    I had little firsthand knowledge of the local fishing. That was supplied by Vinny Keitt, a dedicated Florida pier angler who has been teaching the intricacies of that form for almost 30 years. Vinny is a giant of a man. Six and a half feet tall and broad, he presented an imposing figure strolling onto the pier, pulling a custom flatbed with rods, reels, gear and coolers.
    Greeting him was every person on the fairly crowded pier, from 12-year-olds fishing worn family spin tackle to everyday anglers to knowing sports wielding custom-made graphite rods rigged with Van Staals and high-end Shimanos. A well-dressed middle-aged woman proffered a sizeable king mackerel by its tail and exclaimed, “Look, Vinny, just like you taught me!”
    Soft-spoken and with a seasoned teacher’s manner, Vinny, selected a light spin rod rigged with a sabiki — six tiny hooks dressed with white feathers and a one-ounce sinker. Within a few seconds, he reeled back up the rig now wriggling with three or four small pilchard baitfish that had latched on below.
    He then placed a pilchard, nose-hooked and weightless, onto each of our medium spin rods, tossed the baits out and handed us the outfits with a few concise instructions. Within a very short time, each angler was struggling with a two- to three-pound blue runner, a hard-fighting fish of the jack family.
    The bite escalated from there, culminating an hour later in our hookups with the false albacore plus an awesome jump from a 60-pound tarpon before it spit Harrison’s hook.

You’ll enjoy the best flavor and pound out your aggression

The best sauerkraut is made from freshly harvested cabbage grown during the fall months. I make about 20 pounds of sauerkraut every two to three years and store it in canning jars.
    Choose cabbages that form tight dense heads and can be uniformly shredded into pieces approximately one-eighth of an inch thin. I prefer Flat Head Dutch be­cause the tight, dense heads can easily be shredded. Heads can weigh five pounds or more.
    For best flavor, pack and shred cabbage the day it’s harvested from your garden or at your farmers market.
    I make my sauerkraut in a stone crock because it can withstand the heavy pounding required to crush the cells of the shredded cabbage. Alternatives are stainless steel pails or food-grade five-gallon plastic buckets. For the latter, place a wooden disc the diameter of the bucket under it to prevent bouncing.
    A shredding board is a good tool because it has at least three cutting blades that shred the cabbage. For many years I shredded the cabbage with a very sharp chef’s knife, but I did not have the uniformity that I get from a shredding board.
    Peel away all loose leaves until the outer leaves are firmly attached to the head. Wash the cabbage under cold water and pat dry with a clean towel. Shred a three-inch layer of cabbage into the container and sprinkle with a tablespoon of salt. For every five pounds of shredded cabbage, add three tablespoon of canning salt. Kosher salt is ideal.
    With a clean sauerkraut pounder or a wooden dowel two to three inches in diameter, pound cabbage and salt until you start hearing a squishing sound. Add another layer of cabbage and salt and repeat the pounding. By the time you have pounded half of the shredded cabbage, you should have cabbage juice surfacing. If not, keep pounding until juice becomes visible.
    Continue until you have used all of the cabbage or your container is within four inches from the rim. Cabbage juice should cover the top layer of shredded cabbage.
    Place a dinner plate on the shredded cabbage and juice to direct the fermentation gasses to the outside edge of the container. Cover the dinner plate with a water lock made from a two- or three-gallon plastic zipper bag half filled with water. Seal the bag and place it over the plate; this will allow the fermenting gasses to escape but keep air out.
    Store in a cool dry place for six to eight weeks. The longer you allow it to ferment, the whiter the sauerkraut.
    On removing the water lock and plate, you will find a discolored surface layer. Using a large serving spoon, skim and discard this layer, rinsing the spoon in clean water after each scraping.
    Freeze your sauerkraut in plastic zipper bags or can it in in sterilized glass jars submerged in boiling water for 10 minutes.


Ask The Bay Gardener your questions at DR.FRGouin@gmail.com. Please include your name and address.

Perpetual disaster Bridget Jones grows up a bit in this comedy

Alone on her 40th birthday Bridget Jones (Renée Zellweger: The Whole Truth) fears that her fate is to become the pitied spinster aunt.
    She makes a birthday vow to embrace spinsterhood rather than fear it, becoming an interesting older woman who cultivates an air of mystery and takes lovers when she chooses.
    Her first attempt leads her to Jack (Patrick Dempsey: Grey’s Anatomy), founder of an internet dating site that boasts making love matches. One night of passion is all Bridget plans.
    A week later, she runs into the love of her life, Mark Darcy (Colin Firth: Genius), who loved his job more than he loved her. After a few drinks and a lot of reminiscing, Bridget decides that ancient history could be a current event. When she wakes up in Mark’s bed, however, she decides that she can’t endure rejection again.
    Bridget’s pride in her new life as a sexually liberated woman of a certain age falters when she realizes she’s pregnant. Worse still, she’s not sure if the father is Jack or Mark.
    Goofy, heartfelt and genuinely funny, Bridget Jones’s Baby reinvigorates the flagging franchise. Co-written by Oscar-winning writer Emma Thompson (who also co-stars), the script adds wit, classic physical comedy and charm. Thompson focuses the film on Bridget, showing that the perpetual screw-up can also be competent. Awkward on dates, Bridget excels in her work as a TV producer.
    It also helps that original director Sharon Maguire (Incendiary) returns. Maguire’s excellent sense of comedic editing makes the most of every laugh. She’s also able to coax loose and charming performances from her three leads, especially Firth, who can seem stiff in comedies.
    As Bridget, Zellweger shines. A gifted physical comedian and mugger, she makes Bridget endearing in her messes. Though Zellweger famously gained over 30 pounds for her first two outings as Bridget, she remains svelte for this film.
    Another surprise: Both romantic options are charming.
    Still, it’s all a bit predictable. It takes only a basic understanding of romantic plots to figure who Bridget will pick. Thus the question that frames the movie is largely moot.
    Even ending with a foregone conclusion, this romantic comedy offers pluck and humor.

Good Romantic Comedy • R • 122 mins.

Read this week’s paper with caution; it could lead you astray

Summer did its job on me.    
    It gave me plenty of time outdoors, much of it on the water, by the water and in the water, which is my favorite form of renewal.
    Lots of summer I spent boating on the Chesapeake, bathing in the ocean at Chincoteague, paddling on the Missouri River beneath the White Cliffs described by Meriwether Lewis as worn by water trickling down “into a thousand grotesque figures” so that “we see the remains or ruins of elegant buildings; some columns standing and almost entire with their pedestals and capitals.” But not so much as to eliminate precious reading hours friend Farley calls “news and snooze.” When it was just too darned hot, I news-ed and snoozed inside.
    Vacation helped too, with the wild and rugged terrain of Montana, where rivers always seem to run through it, giving me new perspective.
    So I tied up the season buzzing with ideas. Husband Bill Lambrecht and I came up with so many new projects that I had to use all 10 fingers to count them. I’ve gone so far as to put them in an accounting book, enumerating their step-by-step realization.
    On the domestic front, there’s not a curtain safe from me, and when I’ve changed them (and washed the windows underneath), I start moving pictures and furniture. Though I had to stop that this weekend to can a couple dozen pints of tomatoes while Bill was slicing jalapenos, poblanos and banana chiles for this year’s pickled peppers.
    Effectiveness is a great thing. But I may be courting too much of it, Bill suggested, when I turned down an invitation to a boating party in favor of cleaning the kitchen.
    This week’s paper is the antidote.
    Whether you’re mourning your summer or energized out of all proportion by it, this year’s Fall Fun Guide, 50 Ways to Leave Your Summer, will set you right.
    To bring it to you, calendar editor Kathy Knotts has skimmed the cream from her bulging inbox. From September 22’s autumnal equinox to Thanksgiving, she’s collected 50 ways for you to use this season as playfully as (I hope) you used Bay Weekly’s Summer Fun Guide over summer’s 101 days. You’ll find fun in festivals, field, farm and water.
    Through October you can time-travel at the Renaissance Festival … hob-nob with dream boats … run like the wind … celebrate Oktoberfest … wander through labyrinths of corn … seek the great pumpkin … share in the local harvest, including beer, wine and oysters … dress up your self, your kids and your dog for Halloween … enjoy ghostly company … trick or treat … walk on the wild and the dark side … explore local history and trace your family to kings and knaves. Into November, you can prepare for Thanksgiving by running for fun and fitness and for Christmas by building in gingerbread.
    We know so many ways to leave your summer that you’ll have to pace yourself — for one, lest your good intentions of high achievement go by the wayside. And for two, because come November 17, we’ll be guiding you into the great holiday celebrations with Seasons Bounty.
    So proceed carefully into 50 Ways to Leave Your Summer. You don’t want to have too much fun.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher; editor@bayweekly.com

An old-school hero flick, but not for nervous fliers

You know the story: Catastrophic engine failure gives Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger only 208 seconds to recover U.S. Airways flight 1549 — and save or end the lives of 155 people.
    The question is how director Clint Eastwood (American Sniper) and Tom Hanks (A Hologram for the King) will tell the story.
    They don’t start at the beginning. You have to wait to see his daring water landing on the Hudson River, in the midst of densely populated New York City. Your eventual reward for the wait is seeing, in detail, both the harrowing recreation of the bird strike that killed the engines and the exacting decisions made by the pilots of the plunging plane.
    Eastwood gives you a second drama, as well: the National Transportation Safety Board inquiry, supported by data recovered from the plane, claiming that instead of a dangerous water landing, Sully could have safely returned and landed at LaGuardia.
    Though hailed as a hero by press and public, Sully begins to doubt himself. Is he the Hero of the Hudson? Or a reclkess pilot who risked the lives of his passengers?
    As a director, Eastwood is a classicist, focusing on tone, performance and character. At its best, these choices help the movie thrive.
    Hanks stays true to his role, portraying a seemingly steel-nerved man — a pilot for 42 years, including war experience — who would have gladly have lived out his days in anonymity. The scrutiny combines with post-traumatic stress to wear on Sully’s calm exterior. Hanks, who was born to play stalwart hero types, imbues Sully with quiet dignity — and emotional turmoil just behind his eyes.
    At worst, Eastwood overstates your point. Bits of dialog that overwork the theme are a bit hard to swallow even with Tom Hanks’ considerable charm. Flashbacks feel obligatory, and the family back home only confuses the issue.
    This old-school hero tale has lots to recommend it — unless you’re a nervous flier.

Good Drama • PG-13 • 96 mins.

And how did it come to be?

And how did it come to be?
The Appalachian Trail, a 2,190-mile route that stretches from Georgia to Maine, was proposed in 1920 by Brenton MacKaye. Acquiring and protecting the land took decades of cooperation and political and private negotiations. The trail was mostly completed by 1937, but not federally protected until 1968. Only in 2014 was the last part of the route protected.
    The trail is part of the National Parks System and travels through many tracts of federal and state-controlled land, but many parts of the corridor cross over or near privately owned lands.
    “The process of completing the trail has relied on many factors, particularly when it comes to land usage rights,” explains Jordan Bowman of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.
    Care of the Appalachian Trail falls under the National Parks System, but the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, located in Harpers Ferry, WV, oversees and coordinates maintenance, protection and promotion of the trail. Much of the day-to-day maintenance and construction is done by the 31 Appalachian Trail Communities. In addition to the trail itself, regional groups also maintain and rent the cabins and shelters that line the route.
    The Potomac Appalachian Trail Community oversees a portion of the trail that begins in central Pennsylvania at Pine Grove Furnace, continues through Maryland and West Virginia to Harpers Ferry and extends into the mid-point of Virginia, including Shenandoah National Park.
    The trail is visited by approximately three million people a year
    “In 2015, 916 individuals reported that they had completed the entire trail, including 158 who completed their hikes over multiple years,” Bowman says.
    The most popular parts of the trail coincide with the beginning, Springer Mountain in Georgia, and end, Katahdin in Maine, and portions that go through national or state parks.
    “The vast majority of visitors are not thru-hikers, but those who instead spend anywhere from an afternoon to a few weeks on the trail. That’s one of the great things about the trail,” Bowman says. “Since it crosses over or near many roads and connects with many other trails, it is easy to find a hike that is as short — or as long — as you want it to be.”


Send your questions to chesapeakecuriosities@gmail.com.