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Articles by Sandra Olivetti Martin

Our flowering gardens are butterfly way-stations

     The butterflies nectaring around your garden took wing from the caterpillars nibbling there a few weeks back.
    Fewer black swallowtails are flashing their wings in my garden. Many summers, all the leaves are eaten down to the stalk by the hungry white, black and yellow-stripped caterpillars that pupate black swallowtails. This summer, I’ve seen only one such caterpillar.
    But I have hopes for other caterpillars, other butterflies.
    My yard is one of many in Chesapeake Country hosting monarch gardens, planted with butterfly weed, black-eyed-Susans, bee balm and boneset plus milkweed, ironweed and Joe Pye weed. Day by day, the plants have grown. The black-eyed-Susans are blooming; and all of us butterfly gardeners are hoping for monarchs.
    The plants will sustain the long-distance flyers with nectar. The caterpillars produced by those butterflies will eat the milkweed. Milkweed is their one and only food. I cheer their rise, for the caterpillars that eat this milkweed are like the generation that will fly all the way to Mexico to begin next year’s repetition of the ancient flight of the monarchs. The annual migration from Mexico to Canada and back takes four generations.
    Monarchs usually reach our latitude in September, when I’m hoping my spring plantings will be ready to welcome them with flowers. Together, we butterfly gardeners are hoping for big returns, a regular irruption.
    Once you see an irruption of monarchs you’ll never forget it. My thrill came in September, 1970, when a swarm — called a kaleidoscope in the colorful language of groupings — crashed a backyard picnic in Springfield, Illinois.
    Since then, lost habitat, less milkweed and climate change have pushed the species toward extinction. The current migrating monarch population is as low as two percent of original levels.
    If you see an irruption, let me know: editor@bayweekly.com.

Not your game if you’re a Bay Weekly reader

     Monopoly, Sorry! and Chutes and Ladders: The games we play are the similes writer Tom Hall uses to explain how the nation’s biggest energy debate is playing out in Chesapeake Country.
    Monopoly, Hall says, is what the game seems like when an energy giant like Dominion Resources plays out its next move in your back yard.
    For the third time in 14 years, the sleeping giant on the Chesapeake at Cove Point in Calvert County is stirring. The first tremors were reopening, as a series of energy companies sought and gained permission to put the Liquefied Natural Gas depot back in business. Next, from 2004 to 2008, came expansion as Dominion Resources doubled the old plant’s capacity to receive natural gas from around the world. Now, in an energy economy turned upside-down, Dominion Cove Point is seeking to switch its impressive machinery to exporting some of America’s suddenly abundant natural gas to India and Japan.
    Such big business makes many citizens of Calvert — and climate change opponents throughout the state — fear they’ll be playing the game of Sorry!
    But, says Hall, a story with so many forces at play may be better explained as the maze of Chutes and Ladders.
    For all 14 years, Bay Weekly has reported this story to keep us from playing another game: Blind Man’s Bluff. We’ve explained the stakes, introduced the players, walked pipeline right of ways through citizens’ yards, watched environmental impact studies and refreshed memories with updated chronologies.
    This chapter of the story — with export approval seeming around the corner — is told by Tom Hall. Hall has the standing, experience and balance it takes to explain a local story with national import. A Navy patrol plane mission commander turned journalist, he’s reported on business for the Pensacola News Journal, San Jose Business Journal and Washington Business Journal and worked as an editor at USA Today, Gannett News Service and McClatchy-Tribune News Service.
    How did we get so lucky to add Hall to our contributors? Wouldn’t you know he loves the water!
 



Still Puzzling
    Sudoku is here to stay. We wouldn’t dare omit it. Voices sounding like The Godfather crammed our answering machine after last week’s accidental interruption of the five-year flow of number puzzles in Bay Weekly’s pages.
    It won’t happen again.
    Word puzzles are not provoking such passion. Not since the retirement of Ben Tausig, which moved Bay Weekly puzzle-solver Katie Sabella to her definitive assessment of the value of crosswords in “any periodical worth its salt.”
    Crosswords bring people great happiness. For me, they are a little daily treat that allow me to escape and keep my mind sharp. Supposedly doing them staves off neurological diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s. … It’s a guilty pleasure, a little slice of bliss, but it’s important to me. I suspect many of your readers feel the same. Why not keep that element of joy as a part of Bay Weekly?
    Kris Kross is “okay,” according to puzzlers like Evelyn Newman and Bill Vance. Others hate it. I kind of like it, though it doesn’t give me the same thrill as wading through clues and puns to a good crossword’s multidirectional solution.
    Anagrams drive me crazy. I ought to be able to rearrange the letters — I claim to be a wordsmith — but I’m stuck in the rut of reading from left to right.
    With repeating letters, cryptograms are easier but not so rewarding if the revealed message is stale. The themed crosswords we’ve been running are frustratingly easy, making me miss my weekly struggles with the demonically minded Ben Tausig.
    What’s your say? Email me at editor@bayweekly.com

Where will summer take you?

School’s out for kids everywhere, including the kid in your heart who still thrills with possibility long after the 12-month work calendar has replaced the nine-month school calendar. What adventures lie ahead for you, your family — and your hosts of summer visitors eager to see the sights?
    By land and water, Chesapeake Country is full of wonders. Whichever way you turn you’ll find plenty to see and do, from ocean to Bay to mountains and lakes, from cities to the countryside, from farms to state parks and national wildlife refuges, from fairs and festivals to fun in your own back yard.
    To help you plan your travels, Bay Weekly writers share their favorite day trips and excursions.
    Starting off the journey are mother-daughter team Heather and Mackenzie Boughey, who’ve written a play to show us that No Place Is Far from Fun. Recalling last summer’s travels to the north and west, from Elk Neck State Park to the Garrett County Fair, they vow to do it all over again, this time on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
    If they — or you — need help in planning what to see after crossing the Bay Bridge, the Stories of the Chesapeake Heritage Area has developed heritage tours in Caroline, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties. Find them at www.storiesofthechesapeake.org under the Visit Us tab.
    Wherever you go, writer Leigh Glenn reminds us, the best journeys are planned to the taste of the travelers.
    Photographer-writer Emily Mitchell visits the National Wildlife Center at Patuxent Research Refuge. Blackwater, Eastern Neck and Susquehanna River National Wildlife Refuges give you more Maryland options. My family loves to cross the state line to Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.
    Elisavietta Ritchie takes another approach to Patuxent sightseeing, suggesting ways into the water of Maryland’s all in-state river. Make the most of your water destination, as does Dotty Doherty, paddling quietly, looking and listening.
    Turn up the volume at the ballpark, where baseball groupie Diana Beechener invites you to see dem O’s play major league baseball. For just as much fun at lower prices with easier parking, go out to one of Maryland’s five minor league ballparks to see Cal Ripken’s Aberdeen IronBirds, the Bowie Baysox, the Frederick Keys, Hagerstown Suns or Southern Maryland Bluecrabs, who play in Waldorf.
    Or make a Washington Nationals’ game part of a trip to D.C., where — as intern Madeline Hughes writes — every visitor expects to be taken to see the monumental sights.
    Back home in Chesapeake Country, many pleasures are cut to a smaller scale, as writer Sandy Anderson’s visitors know, for she’s sure to take them treasure hunting at Chesapeake Marketplace in Lusby.
    As you travel, make time fly playing the Bay Game, reviewed by junior reporter Storrie Kulynych-Irvin.
    Me? I want to do it all.
    The stories you’ll find in this issue go beyond splendid sights to amazing adventures and general good times. As wonderful as Chesapeake Country is, place is only part of the story. The other part is what you bring to the places you travel: your eyes, your history, your openness, your willingness to get in the spirit of adventure.
    Where will you find your Chesapeake adventures?

Puzzle Alert!

    For brain-teasing mental vacations, Bay Weekly brings you puzzles. Throughout July, we’re auditioning new word puzzles to tease you in the wake of cruciverbalist Ben Tausig’s retirement. Send me your thoughts to help us choose a replacement: editor@bayweekly.com.

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

June into July is the Bay at its best

“It’s a beautiful day. Don’t let it get away,” my husband emails, quoting Bono.
    So I’m writing with urgency, eager to leave my computer for the Bay, the perfect rhyme to day and away.
    I’ll feel the same tomorrow. What day isn’t beautiful this time of year? Why let any of them get away?
    At the cusp of summer, light is long and weather moderate, mostly. Despite the leonine roars of a changing climate, June’s extremes tend to cool rather than heat. At night, you can still pull on a sweater or tuck under a blanket. Leave your hat on, and you won’t have to take off all your clothes to endure the sun. With luck, that extreme will wait until the sign of the crab yields to the sign of the lion.
    Right now, possibility seems endless.
    School’s finally out throughout Chesapeake Country, the Primary election is won and lost, you can watch baseball every night and many days, vacations are on countdown, calendars are written up with weddings, anniversaries and celebrations. And there’s not yet a jellyfish in sight.
    June, as my grandmother said, “is the month of the roses. The sweetest month and the shortest.” With my birthday falling on June’s last day, there was bittersweetness in that lesson — but not enough bitter to take away the sweetness.
    Anyway, the cup is half-full. We’ve got through Monday before June gets away.
    Then we’ll fling ourselves into the pleasures July brings, starting with Independence Day, which — falling on a Friday this year — gives us a long weekend.
    Bay Weekly is going with the flow. For the next two weeks, I guarantee you a pleasure-filled paper in keeping with the season.
    We’re focusing on fireworks early in this week’s paper, so you can plot a program to double your pleasure. Chesapeake Country fireworks extravaganzas spread over two days.
    On Thursday, July 3, Southern Anne Arundel County is the place to see the show. Anchor out at about 38° 42' or 43' by 76° 30' or 31', and you can see two nearly simultaneous shows, from Herrington Harbour South in the north and Chesapeake Beach in the south. By land, alas, you’ll have to choose one with the other as distant background.
    On Independence Day, Friday, July 4, you’ll find a second helping of fireworks north, south and west, with grand shows in Annapolis, Baltimore, Bowie, Solomons and Washington, D.C. The only pity is you’ll have to choose just one.
    Wherever you choose to see the show, you’ll see it with new insight and knowledge after reading our smart summer intern Madeline Hughes’ description of the choreography that goes into each show and catalogue of the big blasts. Read on to learn the names of the explosions: That one’s a peony … a crysantheum … a willow … a palm, you’ll say, and your friends and family will be impressed.
    There’s lots more to read in this week’s paper to seize this day, for it will never again come your way, from solving mysteries with the Bay Gardener to catching perch with Dennis Doyle to commuting by bicycle with ever-provocative Steve Carr, who returns to our pages this week. The night skies will never be just like this any other week from here to eternity. All of us June babies will read our last birth month horoscope of 2014. And with this week’s crossword puzzle, Bugs in the Program, Ben Tausig retires from weekly puzzling and Bay Weekly’s pages.
    Starting with Independence Day celebrations, you’ll find lots of ways to seize each day, week and month of summer in July 3’s paper, devoted to Travels in Chesapeake County. Bay Weekly writers have combed their memories like beaches in search of favorite day trips and excursions to help you plan many beautiful days ahead for yourself, your family and all your summer visitors.
    Next week, too, some puzzling surprises will come your way.

Your part is to vote

     “How many were wearing aluminum foil hats and Mickey Mouse ears?” my husband, a veteran ­political reporter, wondered.
    “Maybe only a couple,” I joked about the candidates at a forum that had lasted until nearly 11pm.
    Primary election campaigns like the one to be decided in Maryland on June 24 do indeed bring out all kinds. Barriers are low and stakes high. Fees are low; you can run for governor for only $100. You have to run as a Republican or a Democrat to get your name on a Primary ballot. But if you can swallow that, nobody is going to say you can’t. The gatekeepers are off duty. Paperwork is minimal unless you’re raising a lot of money. Outside the big high-office, televised debates, you’ll have your say with plenty of time, place and listeners. Best of all, somebody is sure to win. It might well be you. Stranger things have happened.
    Still, to run for office, you’ve got to have something driving — even obsessing — you. Campaigning is all about putting yourself out in front of people. All but the most reclusive candidates — and there are some — are out among us, knocking on doors, waving signs on busy roads, visiting churches, showing up at festivals, speaking at forums, answering questions, inviting detractors, enduring ridicule. It’s like making your life a YouTube feed.
    At the least, campaigning makes huge demands on a candidate’s time. Most likely it’s going to take money, too, and practicing the odd art of asking people to give you theirs. Certainly it requires inuring yourself to rejection, for many of the people you ask for their money and their vote are sure to say no, during the campaign or on election day.
    To open yourself to all that, you’ve got to want something very much. Or believe something very deeply.
    Richard Ben Cramer, a Chesapeake Bay author who died last year, wrote a political classic called What It Takes that examined motivations of a crop of White House hopefuls. Ego may be the driver, pushing you to believe you’re not just the right person for the job but the only person. Ambition is another driver. Election brings you power. Win and you’re part of a government telling us what we can and cannot do — which has the downside of backlash. But that’s a sting you’re unlikely to feel until it’s time to campaign all over again.
    Meanwhile, you get to enjoy perks. Once politicians get elected, they take themselves pretty seriously, building monumental work environments and giving themselves titles and privileges, often including fancy license plates and convenient parking places. And you can be pretty sure you won’t lose your job until the next election.
    Ego and ambition are very good drivers for candidates, at least in some measure, because campaigning is an act of faith in yourself. Governing requires other skills, including listening to people, knowing how government works, digesting vast quantities of information, remembering what you’ve learned, devoting hours to meetings, working with people, adjusting your balance on the scale of compromise and conviction and many others.
    Most of those forces are driving first-time candidate Matthew Pugh, a Bay Weekly contributor in years past.
    “Maryland is a great state,” he told me, “but sadly, its greatness has been diminished by the irresponsible policies of the current administration; they’ve crippled our economy with more than 40 new taxes, and their spending is out of control — and no one is being held accountable. I’m running for Central Committee because I’d like to help restore responsible Republican leadership in Maryland. I decided I could no longer sit on the sidelines.”
    Pugh is running for a starter office, Anne Arundel County Republican State Central Committeeman in District 33. Only Republicans will see his name on the ballot. The job is unsalaried. But eight candidates are running for three seats. No matter how good a job Pugh does campaigning, loss is a possibility. Driven by conviction, he’s putting himself on the line to make government work.
    Pugh and all the others whose names we find on our ballots — and in this week’s Bay Weekly pages — are citizen heroes. Win or lose, they’re trying to make government work. It would be a shame if we didn’t keep up our end of the bargain by going out to vote.

I am my father’s daughter

My father didn’t come to all my games. I had none, and for the weekly ritual of horseback riding — first ring, then trail — my grandmother Florence, his mother, was my chauffeur and companion. If there had been victories, she and my mother would have been my cheering squad. They, too, were my comfortors and sometime confidants.
    About how to relate to a daughter, Gene Martin, was clueless.
    I was pretty clueless, too, when it came to relating to my father. I seemed to disappoint him every chance I got. He was a sportsman but no athlete. I was neither. He tried to teach me to catch a baseball, and I cringed at stubbed fingers. I told him — and the young pro in attendance — that golf was hot and too much walking. Certain life basics — from telephone books to addressing envelopes — were at least for a time beyond me. I was especially bad at figures, while Dad knew the odds. A gambler and card player, he could crunch and keep numbers in his brain. He must have thought — though never said — he’d sired an alien.
    Indeed, we did live in alien universes. His was the male world of gaming and sports, bars and cigars, business and reckoning, news and facts.
    I was the little girl of a hive of women, mother, grandmother and a swarm of surrogate aunts, the oddly daughterless waitresses at our family’s restaurant, where I did my growing up. Emotions and stories were the language they spoke and I learned.
    I knew men drawn to the hive by these beautiful, competent, hearts-on-their-sleeves women. I fell for those young men — often professional athletes, football players and golfers — with junior crushes they were kind enough to nourish. Romance I could understand, and that’s how the ice between my father and me was broken.
    Do things with her, my mother urged, a confession she made to me years later.
    For Dad, doing things meant going out on dates.
    I’d dress up the way women did, and we’d go see the St. Louis Cardinals play baseball or on his boat on the Mississippi River by day. By night, we’d go to nightclubs or the horseraces. Often, it would be a party of people, and I’d be the only kid in the bunch. I watched the grown-ups as if they were playing parts in a complex play I was learning to understudy.
    The surface lessons also sunk in: Overcoming my clumsiness, I learned to waterski. I learned how baseball was played and scored. I learned the excitement of horseracing and something of the game of numbers, breeding and performance. I read the Sporting News and learned how to interpret a racing form. I heard Nancy Wilson in the flesh and learned the rhythms of jazz.
    Our dates went so well that Dad took me on trips. In Lexington, Kentucky, for the Derby trials at Keeneland, I fell in love with bluegrass, horse farms and champions, memorized the roll of Kentucky Derby winners up till then and met the great Citation. In Chicago, I felt the pulse of the city and saw the landmarks of my father’s growing up.
    Dad was a great date. He dressed for the occasion, drove a Cadillac, booked good seats at exciting places, ordered well, knew everybody, told compelling stories, made you feel like you were somebody going someplace — and never left you by the wayside.
    Years of increasing independence layered new strata of experience over my dates with Dad. My life evolved along other lines, and the things we did together are not things I do now.
    Or are they?
    I still love baseball, and almost every year I pin my hopes on the Cardinals. The former St. Louis Browns, for years now the Orioles, are a hot second. I’m still mate on a motorboat. I still know the lyrics of jazz standards. I’m fascinated with near human history and where people come from. And, as I prepared a lead-up story to the Preakness, I learned I can still interpret a horse race. I also have very picky standards for cars, entertainment and restaurants, and I took a while to find a husband who was as good a date as my father.
    Gene Martin’s photographically sharp memory set the standard I’ve tried to live up to. From him I learned how to watch and listen and to craft a good story, though his art was telling and mine writing. I suspect I learned, by inference, that people like us — at least the four generations I know — do better with our own business than working for somebody else, as long as we have good partners. I learned that love is a willful creature that leads your heart and laughs at your head.
    I learned the truth my mother never doubted: I am my father’s daughter.
    Read on for more fathers, daughters, sons and lessons.

Ouch! That’s uncomfortable!

     There’s more I didn’t tell you about Bernie Fowler in this week’s feature interview leading up the 27th Annual Patuxent River Wade-In.
    A cross and a flag mark the entrance to the Prince Frederick home of the 90-year-old champion of the Patuxent and retired Maryland state senator. “God and country,” he says, are his mottoes.
    In his heart, Bernie Fowler is a conservative — in the old-fashioned meaning of that oft-preempted word.
    Conserving the bounty we’ve been blessed with is that old-fashioned meaning and what Fowler is all about. Even if conservation demands going to extremes of change. Extremes like paying taxes. Extremes like acknowledging our hand in changing ecosystems — from his beloved river to the global climate — and taking responsibility for fixing problems that won’t fix themselves.
    Conserving the bounty we’ve been blessed with takes getting more innovative every day.
    Life is too fast, we complain nowadays, and it’s true. We live in a vortex of speed, twirled by trying to keep up with the speed of our machines. In 1914, people were just hopping into automobiles. In 1814, the fastest thing on wheels was a horse cart; bicycles weren’t invented until 1817.
    In 1714, the typewriter was a far-fetched idea. In 2014, the Internet moves ideas digitally at the speed of thought.
    While we’re hustling to keep up with the future, the past is catching up with us. Yes, we’re the children faced with paying the environmental bills wracked up by at least six generations of our ancestors, back 200 years.
    In that perspective, our pittance of a flush tax or stormwater tax barely pays the interest, and the principal keeps mounting. The edifice towering over us is pretty scary. No wonder we don’t want to acknowledge it.
    Yet unless we want that mountain of environmental debt to come avalanching down on us, we’ll have to be willing to pay our share. And to think — as Fowler
advises — outside the box.
    Much of the problem comes down to cleaning up after ourselves. We pay the flush tax to clean up our toilet water, whether in our septic systems or wastewater treatment plants. The stormwater tax — plus our rain barrels and French gutters, rain gardens and pervious pavements — captures the rain that flows off roofs, parking lots, driveways and roads — not only in our homes but throughout our counties.
    The bigger the problem, the bigger the change and outcry, as every change means loss for people invested in what came before.
    As Bernie asked me, “have you got a magic wand?”
    Realistic solutions are going to cost us all, not only our money but also our cherished beliefs. Natural gas burns 30 percent cleaner than coal — but we’d have to swallow fracking or work fast to find better ways of getting the gas out of shale. Sustainable solutions — solar, wind, water and geothermal — each bring their own problems. Will we have to make peace with nukes, as scientist Burt Drake suggested in our Bay Weekly conversation back in April?
    Conserving the bounty we’ve been blessed with means that one way or another, each of us is going to have to think the unthinkable. I fear that’s what’s meant by thinking outside the box.

You can get (most) anything you want — even a good book

If the medium is the message, then there’s more to be learned from Calvert Library’s huge festival of local authors than you’ll read in this week’s feature story, The Writers Next Door.
    Your neighbor may have written just the one for you, I say, introducing 33 authors and their latest (or favorite) books. These are quick introductions, the literary equivalent of speed dating, with a life compressed into one sentence and a plot into another. At the May 31 festival, you’ll meet even more authors from 9:30 am to 4pm.
    All that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
    The submerged message is that Calvert County’s ­public library system is ambitious in a big way to be a place where people connect with ideas and each other.
    You see it in the Prince Frederick library building, built in 2006 to change the way people use their libraries. Twenty-first century libraries will trend that way, using architecture and location to draw people in and interior design to make them feel comfortable, welcome and ready to stay a while.
    Libraries of the future will be community centers — with the visual appeal of bookstores — according to Anne Arundel Public Library director Skip Auld, who’s thinking toward a new Annapolis Public Library that will be state-of-the-art.
    Sending the message that your library is the center of your community is more than putting it in a place people are likely to go. It’s more than a light-filled building with maritime and local allusions, human-sized spaces and comfortable chairs.
    The medium of that message has to be that here, as in Alice’s Restaurant of Arlo Guthrie’s song, you can get anything you want.
    That’s just about true of our 19 libraries, in Anne Arundel as well as in Calvert.
    They’re open when you want to go. This year, Anne Arundel libraries regained the county funding to open every branch from 9am to 9pm four days a week, and until 5pm Fridays and Saturdays, with some Sunday hours in regional centers. Calvert’s libraries have always opened 9am to 9pm four days, with shorter hours Friday (noon-5pm) and Saturday (9am-5pm).
    Along with longer hours, the Anne Arundel library system added 31 new staffers.
    Many of Anne Arundel’s new service are devoted to kids. The libraries’ Early Literacy Initiative runs 144 programs a year for infants through five-year-olds, as well as reaching out to schools and Head Start centers.
    Bay Weekly’s Kids Time at the Libraries lists as many as 50 kids programs each week. Of course kids programs involve grown-ups as well, and often stuffed animals.
    That’s another part of the message: programs for people of all ages. Stories, songs, fingerplays and stuffed-animal sleepovers for kiddies … Legos, homework help and tutors on call for kids … pizza parties and games, both board and electronic, for teens … and for all ages, computers, shelves and shelves of books in print (large and small) and on recording, collections of databases, movies, music and games — and all for free.

Commemoration …   

Tuesday and Wednesday, the Blue Angels awe us with fearless acrobatics, then streak into the wild blue yonder, our imaginations trailing.
    Friday, the midshipmen of the U.S. Naval Academy class of 2014 receive their commissions.
    Monday completes the cycle.
    All the warriors we honor on Memorial Day were once young as those midshipmen, younger even, entrusting themselves to a future beyond their imagining.
    They were as confident as those Angels, prepared to soar beyond ordinary mortals.
    Then came the doing. In war and in peace, each man devoted himself, each woman herself, to a cause larger than the making of an individual life. In that service, many gave their lives or lost who they had been in limbs and peace of mind.
    On Memorial Day, as we honor the legions of dead warriors, their stories want to rise from the graves and columbariums to the ears of the living. It’s their quiet call that takes us to the cemeteries, to the memorial spaces and ceremonies. We make these journeys on the last Monday in May, when flowers — peonies, iris, spirea — are blooming. Decoration Day, the old name of a commemoration begun after the Civil War, filled cemeteries with flowers and witnesses, and the stories rose from all the graves, visited and lonely.
    Speaking the names of the dead warriors, recalling their stories, is a duty veterans hold sacred. Speaking for them in this Memorial Day issue of Bay Weekly is … Korean War veteran Bill Alli, of Bowie, whose book, Too Young for a Forgettable War, we recommend to you in The Reader. As well as Barb Robbins, Sara Russell and Donna Kurrle, interviewed at the Maryland World War II Memorial on the Severn River.

… And Celebration
    The only certain lesson taught by the dead is the fullness of life. Thus the flip side of Memorial Day is our celebration of summer’s beginning.
    You’ll step out of this Bay Weekly into the season.
    Start with These Shining Lives, Colonial Players’ memorial play to, writes Bay Weekly reviewer Jane Elkin, “remind us that precious time is ticking and we should never take a moment of our shining lives for granted.”
    Next? Chesapeake Country is your oyster.    
    Planning a visit to Eastern Shore? Ocean bound? You’ll be among 333,000 travelers in crossing the Bay Bridge. If that figure doesn’t deter you, neither should gephyrophobia. Folks who, like me, are afraid to make that crossing behind the wheel of their own car will find relief (and transportation) in Josh Powell’s story on the Kent Island Shuttle Service.
    If your Memorial Day and summer plans have you getting onto the water rather than over it, we remind you of another timely seasonal commemoration: Safe Boating Week. Bob Melamud’s story will guide you to your own safe boating season.
    Every summer taste will find its satisfaction in the 2014 Summer Fun Guide, Bay Weekly’s annual supplement tucked into this week’s paper. In its 44 pages, you’ll find ways to celebrate the 101 days of summer from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
    To make the most of summer 2014, keep this guide by your side. Do not recycle until September 2.

How Do You Have Summer Fun?
    Here at Bay Weekly, we know a lot of ways to have summer fun. What we don’t know is your favorite summer adventure. Do tell!
    I’m seeking stories for our upcoming issue, Making the Best of Summer in Chesapeake Country. Send me your stories (up to 250 words) and pictures of adventures good, great, calamitous and redeemed: editor@bayweekly.com, subject line Summer Adventures, please.

Plus Two Last Words
    In a broader memorial sense, we say two farewells in 2014’s Memorial Day paper. Puzzler Ben Tausig alerts us to his departure. Puzzles this week through June 26 play out his long good-bye.
    We also salute Dignity Players, which ended its nine-year run as the Theatre for Change on May 17, with the closing of The 39 Steps. Memorably honoring the company for its achievement is Bay Weekly theater reviewer Jim Reiter, who directed the curtain closer.

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

Time to hook our wagons to energy unlimited

Formidable is the fecundity of the vegetable kingdom.    
    Over just a couple of weeks, Chesapeake County has been conquered by green. So quickly that you have to be looking to notice the creeping change, as leaves, seeds and flowers shoot forth. Trunks, branches and limbs of apparently dead trees have burst into green life.
    Seemingly overnight, leaves have grown from miniscule hands to palms so big they could belong to giants. From the bare earth, flowers rise, expanding while your back was turned from frail sprouts to aggressive life forms. Food is growing in our gardens.
    Not just us in this well-watered, sun-kissed, mostly temperate earthly paradise. The vegetative drive for life is universal. Even in arid climates like the Sonora Desert down Phoenix way, cactus and wildflowers burst into spring bloom.
    All this from seeds often no bigger than specks.
    By comparison, humanity is a 90-pound weakling. Like our babies, our inventions have long gestations. Our planet-wide search for energy, the dominant quest of the last two centuries, has yielded nothing to compare with the force that through the green fuse drives the flower. (Poet Dylan Thomas came up with that phrase.)
    I am riding the boom.
    These are our salad days, when we eat greens from our little well-composted garden rather than from cello-bags. Sweet lettuces and peppery arugula are filling our bowls. Spinach lasagna is in delicious season. Forget dried herbs; parsley, oregano, sage and thyme are fat bushes. Mint and lemon balm are already trying to take over. Even sun-loving basil is forgiving its early planting. Catnip is thriving for naught, for the cat for whom it was planted seems nearing the end of his too-short life. Like poor Jungle Bob, my brown turkey fig tree may be a goner — but the life force is strong, so I’m prepared to be surprised.
    Had I planted asparagus, I’d be cutting my own spears rather than making regular stops at Dick and Jane’s Farm Stand and occasional forays to the grower’s tailgate market on Route 4 below the Route 258 exchange. But as Dr. Frank Gouin writes in this week’s Bay
Gardener, “asparagus is a long-term crop.”
    It also, he says, “requires advance preparations.”
    Either I’m heedless, or I’ve never dared make the commitment. With this column, I’ll no longer have the easy excuse of ignorance. The Bay Gardener tells us how, when and to what depth to dig those asparagus trenches, offering alternatives according to how we wish to cut our spears, above ground (shallower) or below (deeper).
    Asparagus is not the half of it. The wise doctor’s columns not infrequently force me to examine my character, if not my conscience. The clueless gardener of April 24’s Know Your Plants Before You Buy could have been me. I’m cursed with the results of planting things that seemed good ideas at the time. Christmas trees are aspiring to Washington Monument size. Cute bushes have turned into hungry hydras. Innocent-seeming ground-covers have revealed themselves as Sorcerer’s Apprentices. Some time in the history of all those mistakes, could I not have planted asparagus?
    Apparently not.
    Perhaps this is the year, when I’ve vowed to turn over a new leaf.
    My newly drawn landscape plan is my guide on all visits to plant sales and garden centers. So far, it’s working. Flowers, shrubs and trees reach out to tempt me, but I resist. Unless they’re on the plan, herbs or essential annuals, they find no room in my cart, car or garden. I’ve yielded only once, to native bleeding heart touted irresistibly by a garden saleswoman at last weekend’s William Paca Garden plant sale. Three pots of that old-fashioned perennial, one I’ve always loved, took me over my Mother’s Day budget. But the other dozen were all approved on my plan.
    Asparagus wants sun, so my advance preparations begin with watching the hour-spread of light on my little piece of earth. If the light is right, there’s a ready-drawn place in my plan for an asparagus trench. There’ll be no instant gratification should I make this planting. “Do not harvest asparagus spears until the beginning of the third growing season,” the Bay Gardener warns. On this end, that seems so long. In retrospect, three years will be no time.

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