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Articles by Sandra Olivetti Martin

Read on to find out

Seek and you shall find is the journalist’s creed.
     So I was anticipating a full mailbox after I asked in the paper of June 15 for your help in identifying my grandfather’s car.
    You came through.
    First, on the afternoon of the very day Bay Weekly was delivered throughout Anne Arundel and Calvert counties, was William Hopkins.
    REO Speedwagon, he wrote. Likely a ’27 Flying Cloud, he later added, specifying that 1927 was the first year for Flying Cloud. 1936 the last. Patterned after their fire truck.”
    That was the first of a litany of early auto makes.
    “I think it’s a 1927 Chevrolet Touring model,” wrote Barry Scher.
    Packard, Alice Dunlap called in, basing her supposition on pictures from her parents’ youth.
    John Overholser agreed. “It looks like a 1927 Packard Six touring car to me. Cool photo!” he added.
    Lois Noonan, a fellow Billiken from St. Louis University, also guessed, “A Packard?”
    Packard, a Detroit company, built luxury automobiles from 1899 to 1958. Look them up. Packard is definitely in the ballpark.
    Ford Model A was Kevin Moran’s vote.
    Mike Kress of Marlboro Tire & Automotive, Inc. had another opinion. “I believe your grandfather’s car was a 1924 Studebaker Big Six with a Rex-equipped all-season top,” he wrote. “Keep up the good work.”
    Well gosh! It was looking like I’d have to call in an expert.
    Then Mike Lechlitner got out his magnifying glass. Sherlock Holmes-style, he studied the car point by point.
    “I believe the auto pictured is a 1924 Hudson Super Series Six for the following reasons,” he wrote.
    “1. Most purchases in those days were regional. Hudson fits.
    “2. From the front of your picture to the back:
    “A. Side louvres do not surpass the height of the front wheel fender. This is uncommon with the exception of Hudson’s and Flint automobiles.
    “B. The side engine louvres end right at the cowl fairing, not before (a Hudson characteristic).
    “C. Cowl fairing is slightly scalloped, and reflective sheen shown in your picture matches.
    “D. Windscreen and front awning over front windshield match exactly (Hudson awnings were shorter than others).
    “E. The door handle for the driver’s door is located forward on the vehicle. Most other manufacturers had ‘suicide doors’ with the driver’s external handle behind driver’s left shoulder.
    “Now, continuing to the rear of the vehicle:
    “3. There are no roof pillars in your photo. However you’ll note two shiny spots along the roofline where the roof pillars would be mounted. These were removable and are close to where they should be for a Hudson. I’d guess the pillars were removed for this summer golf excursion.
    “4. Missing rear passenger door handle, the gap between driver and rear door matches a Hudson, but it may have not shown up due to sun angle.
    “5. Your photo has a sharp 90-degree turn at corner of the rear roof pillar to the body of the vehicle. Not quite similar to a more rounded and thicker back-end pillar on a Hudson.”
    Pretty convincing evidence. Is he right?
    My arbitrator appeared in the form of a motorhead we hadn’t seen since he was a high-schooler delivering papers for Bay Weekly one summer in the mid-1990s. Stopping by our office out of the blue, Russ Pellicot took on the challenge.
     “Could it be a Biddle?” Russ wondered, explaining his thinking.
    “Apparently Biddle was a small luxury auto maker out of Pennsylvania. At www.earlyamericanautomobiles.com/1916.htm, scroll about three-quarters of the way down and look in the right-hand column for the 1923 Biddle Sedan.
    “I’m looking at the size and shape of the vents in the side engine cover, the profile of the windshield, location of front door handle, contour of the cowl, and the lack of any vertical posts in the side window openings as my clues.”
    So the plot thickened.
    Pellicot dug a little deeper, finding his answer in an online conversation among car buffs.
    “It seems,” he wrote, “that Hudson was using bodies built by an outfit named Biddle and Smart up until about 1930, hence the confusion. It makes sense, because the other pictures of Biddle vehicles that I found didn’t look enough like this one for it to be the same manufacturer. All that being said, it is my belief that your grandfather’s car is a Hudson.”
    So I conclude I have two winners to take to lunch. Mike Lechlitner and Russ Pellicot, you’ll be hearing from me.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher
email editor@bayweekly.com, www.sandraolivettimartin.com

With the title comes accountability

As Gov. Larry Hogan revs up his reelection machine, he is burnishing his credentials. In the two weeks since Bay Weekly’s Father’s Day interview in his office, he’s been buddying up with fellow Republicans, “delivering on his promise to transform transit in Baltimore” and carefully styling himself an environmental, and particularly a Chesapeake, champion.
    Hogan’s well-timed ascension to leadership of the Chesapeake Executive Council  — the chairmanship rotates among the Council members, heads of the EPA Bay Program states — puts him in a catbird seat.
    The Executive Council coordinates the collaborative Bay restoration efforts of Delaware, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, as well as Maryland. As chair, Hogan extends his visibility throughout the region.
    In taking on that role, he promised to “remain passionately committed to this cause.”
    At home in Maryland, he says he has honored that commitment by funding, executive order, regulation and legislation.
    In funding, he calls himself the first governor in Maryland history to fully fund the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund. “We have invested the most ever — nearly $145 million — in the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund. Last year was the first time it has ever been fully funded in our state’s history, and we fully funded Bay restoration efforts again this year,” he said.
    In Program Open Space, he makes another case for following talk with money. “After years of raiding by the previous administration,” he says, “the Hogan administration has also fully funded the state’s premier land conservation and recreation program.”
    By executive order, Hogan this month created Project Green Classrooms, which he calls “innovative ways to engage our youth … by promoting outdoor experiential activities and environmental education through Maryland’s schools, communities and public lands.”    
    In legislation, this year he proposed a 2017 Environmental Package including increased dollar and technology incentives for electric vehicles. He also signed The Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act, requiring Maryland to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from 2006 levels by 2030.
    A year earlier, he gave coal-fueled power plants choices of ways to achieve mandatory reduction of their emission of smog-forming gasses in summer.
    Above all, Hogan seems proudest about negotiating a compromise phosphorous management solution. “We brought all the stakeholders together — farmers, community leaders, the poultry industry and environmental groups — in what has been called the most significant step to clean up the Bay in a generation,” he says.
    The governor told me in our Bay Weekly conversation that he uses that achievement as a model in working with watermen, who are so important to Maryland’s economy, history and culture that they appear together with farmers on our state seal.
    In planning for oyster restoration, “watermen have been ignored, demonized,” he said. “We don’t want to put watermen out of business. We want to do like we did with farmers. We want to bring everybody together and say watermen need to be a part of the solution as we work to help the business and industry while working together to restore oyster populations.”
    One step, watermen have told him, is to open sanctuaries to rotational harvesting.
    “Sanctuaries are just getting covered over with silt. There’s so much sediment coming down, mostly from the Susquehanna River and Conowingo Dam, that some of these sanctuaries no longer function and oysters are dying. It’s like harvesting a crop. They need to get in there and be harvested. There’s no question that the science works.”
    You might differ with that — and scientists have told me they do — just as you might with any of Hogan’s claims. You might, like Maryland Democrats from the rank and file to Congress, also wonder about his apparent indifference to the U.S. Climate Alliance of states in support of the standards set by the Paris Climate Accord repudiated by the president.
    If so, Hogan seems to have made himself accountable. By identifying himself as a champion of the Chesapeake, he’s asking, so it would seem, that advocates and researchers hold him to it.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher
email editor@bayweekly.com, www.sandraolivettimartin.com

How much — or how little — do we know about the man behind the role?

Who was this man I know as my father?
His coincidence with that term is a big deal to me.
    To him, fatherhood was one of a long life’s many roles.
    In the 36 years before I was born, he was son, grandson, nephew, brother, student, rail-rider, card player, bartender, shore patrolman in the Navy, husband and, as I am now discovering, many things it was not my business to know.
    I shared my half-century with him with people dearer and occupations more pressing.
    Yet there’s nobody left to know him better. Nor anybody more curious to know the man who was more than my father.
    History is a story surmised by survivors. The last living witness, I have set out to summon ghosts.
    Prodded out of its Rip Van Winkle sleep, my memory has lots to tell. Starting with the anthology of semi-tall tales my father told when I was a little girl full of the same questions I’m asking now.
    When I was a little girl, he’d say. When I was a fireman … When I carried my crippled brother on my back … When I rode the rails and rods … When I slept riding a Greyhound bus to my father’s funeral and woke to find my shoes gone.
    In those pre-transgender days, my father had ­probably not been a little girl. How, from all the wisps of memory thinned and tossed by time, am I to sort out the probably true from the probably false?
    With glee, like Sherlock Holmes with the game afoot, I’m turning the craft I’ve learned in four decades as a reporter, telling thousands of people’s stories, to telling my own.
    The fact that all my sources are dead is less trouble now than it would have been at any other point in history. The World Wide Web puts the answer to almost every question at my fingertips. Genealogical references including Ancestry.com and Find A Grave pinpoint who was where when.
    Every inkling is a question that can be confirmed or denied and set in context. Was it the Chicago Field Museum or the Museum of Science and Industry the boy who was my father watched rising?
    In minutes I know that the Field Museum, though on Lake Michigan, was too far north of my father’s Hyde Park neighborhood. The Museum of Science and Industry, in the right place, opened too late, in 1933. Except that the great structure was repurposed from 1893’s Columbian Exposition. With a trip to Chicago, I rank my father’s awed watching of its reconstruction very likely true.
    My best source in my quest are the words of the dead, preserved as fresh as the moment they were written in the correspondence received by my saving cousin Cora Smith over her long life. 
    That’s where my father’s story begins.
        Arrived 7:30pm
        this 26th day of November 1907
        Albro Jean Martin
        Weight 11.
    An engraved card is a reliable source. Especially one that bears the Official Seal of the Stork. This stork-certified notice is small, 33⁄4 by 21⁄2 inches, but it reports all pertinent information.
    Mailed to maternal first cousin Cora Smith on November 29, from 5452 Calumet Ave., Chicago, Illinois, the birth announcement confirms both facts — as I believe them — and legend.
    My father was reputed to have been a big baby. Eleven pounds is a very big baby.
    Nearly 110 years after Elmer Martin mailed his first son’s birth announcement, the tangibility of his little card and its return address make it a talisman. Anchored on that certainty, my wisps of memory are taking shape as stories.
    To be continued …

Your Help Wanted

    What’s this car? In about 1927, grandfather Elmer Martin and four friends went golfing in southside ­Chicago — perhaps Jackson Park — or Flossmore. What were they driving?
    Identify the car positively (and first), and I’ll take you out to lunch: editor@bayweekly.com.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher
email editor@bayweekly.com, www.sandraolivettimartin.com

With your help

Has the world ever looked more beautiful? Probably, in some pristine past, but in the eye of this beholder, these late days of spring sparkle with perfection — and when the sun doesn’t come out they give us moody skies reflected in shady green.
    Who doesn’t want to be out in times like this?
    Somebody who does is the Eastern box turtle. That beloved little fellow with the high domed shell crawls out of the leafy cover of the forest floor this time of year to see the world. There’s a lot to see and do after months of hibernation. Like all of us, turtles have their ranges, within 250 yards of the nests where they were born, according to the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore. That’s home, where they forage, mate and lay their eggs. If a road cuts through it, turtles take it in stride.
    Unless we have the luck of a turtle visitor, a road is where we’re most likely to see them, carrying their camouflage-patterned shell on little clawed feet. Stop to check one out, and you’ll see how it got its name, for it snaps its shell closed like a box. Inside is a safe place to be, so box turtles have little to fear from predators — except us.
    Taking a box turtle home for a pet is a bad idea. You cannot manage for them so well as they can for themselves. Unless you do careful research into what to feed them and how to keep them, they’re likely to starve. Certainly they won’t be making any more baby turtles.
    The loss of just one adult box turtle from a local population each year could wipe out that population, for box turtle reproduction is a lengthy, tenuous and oftentimes inefficient process.
Females typically produce small clutches of only three or four eggs a year, and temperature extremes, heavy rainfall, fungus and predators frequently destroy the eggs.
    Even when an egg does hatch, the hatchling — again having to struggle against weather, predators and other hazards — has a slim chance of reaching adulthood.
It takes years to fully develop the stronger, protective adult shell and years of habitat familiarity to attain some degree of relative safety.
    A female who is able to survive her first several years, reaching reproductive maturity, can produce a few hundred eggs during her lifetime, which can be 75 to 100 years. From this lifetime of egg production, only two or three hatchlings may reach adulthood to sustain the population.
    When you see a turtle crossing the road, the right thing to do is help her or him across in the direction it was traveling. (You’ll know it’s a him if you get a glimpse of his eyes, as males have red eyes.)
    The other day, a woman driving in front of me stopped her SUV, hazards flashing, on Rt. 2 approaching Aris T. Allen Parkway and ran, arms flapping, to save a box turtle.
    If the turtle you hope to rescue does not snap into a box shell but remains exposed, pointy bill snarling at you, it’s likely an aptly named snapping turtle. Cautiously — very cautiously — pick it up by the shell, not the tail, but well back so it can’t turn its long flexible neck to bite the hand that rescues it.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher
email editor@bayweekly.com, www.sandraolivettimartin.com

Honor the holy day. Then celebrate the holiday.

Memorial Day is both a holiday and a holy day.
    On the far side of war, it’s the holiday beginning summer’s season of outdoor living, welcomed with barbecues, crab feasts and pool openings. I’m eager to plunge into that season this week or next, weather permitting. Imagining you are too, all of us here are preparing Bay Weekly’s indispensible Summer Guide to tuck inside your June 8 paper.
    On the near side of war, Memorial Day is a holy day. Dating back to the Civil War, it began as Decoration Day, when a mourning nation decorated the graves of its lost sons with the flowers of spring.
    World War I gave Memorial Day a great boost. America entered the Great War, its working title, 100 years ago, calling 4.7 million into service and sending four million men to fight along war-weary French and British soldiers.
    All must have feared what American poet Alan Seeger predicted:

I have a rendezvous with Death
At some disputed barricade,
When Spring comes back with rustling shade
And apple-blossoms fill the air —
I have a rendezvous with Death
When Spring brings back blue days and fair.

     The feelings of one of the 4.7 million, Illinoisan
A.L. Dixon, survived the century. I read in his own hand ­lonely, newsy letters he sent to my grandmother’s first cousin, Miss Cora Smith, during his 18 months of ­service. Safe from the German barrage, spared by spinal meningitis and influenza, Dix served an easy war as a quartermaster sergeant in Camp Taylor, Kentucky. But of course he did not know that going in.

December 13, 1917
    Me thinks we will soon see France and I hope so, just to get this over with. I have taken out $500 insurance and Mother may find herself rich some day soon …

April 19, 1918
    There are three stars in the home service flag now and I am some what proud of it — there will be a chance of some of us boys in the Dixon family getting shot I think. I can’t say that Mother is proud of her best soldier sons, but they are all insured for $40,000 and she had better wish us good luck in this scrap.

November 4, 1918    
    The flu was sure bad here and some few of our boys “kicked off.” It failed to land me this time so you and others will still have to keep on sending letters to Camp Taylor and trust the Huns to get me when I go across.

    Then the war was over. Dix and his brothers were lucky. Others were not. America suffered 306,000 casualties.

December 31, 1918
    There are lots of the oversea boys here in camp all wounded and all quartered at the base hospital, they must make me bawl every time I see them for some are in bad shape and one can see just what war means.

    Of the 306,000, 53,402 died in action. Among them was the poet Alan Seeger. An early volunteer with the French Foreign Legion, he kept his rendezvous with death on July 4, 1916, nine months before America entered the war.
    Disease, including the war years’ terrible flu, and other causes took 63,114 more lives.
    The War to End All Wars did not live up to its billing. Since 2001, 6,886 American warriors have died according to http://thefallen.militarytimes.com. The ­Religious Society of Friends’ count is higher.
    Memorial Day seems to serve a lasting purpose.
    In this week’s paper, we continue our remembrance of World War I, introducing storyteller Elloise Schoettler, who you can hear in person Saturday, May 27 as she recounts Unknown Stories of 64 World War I Nurses from Maryland at Chesapeake Beach’s annual Stars and Stripes Festival.
    You’ll also learn what Dix meant by three stars in the home service flag. For that, turn to Crofton Library’s Blue Star Memorial: One of an All-American Chain of Monuments to Peace, also by Diana Dinsick.
    Honor this holy day. Then celebrate the holiday.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher
email editor@bayweekly.com, www.sandraolivettimartin.com

On these, you did your part

A couple of recent stories have given us just the response we like to hear: You loved them.
    Every Wednesday afternoon, we wash our hands of the next day’s paper, just as I’m doing today on the paper of May 18, 2017 — which happens to be one of which we’re all proud.
    When our work is done, yours begins. For newspapering is a partnership among those who make it — writers, editors, photographers, designers, ad reps, advertisers — and those who read it. We and You.
    A newspaper without readers isn’t even fish wrap.
    Our interdependence is just as real on a personal level. Each of us sends our weekly contributions out into the world as foundlings. What will happen to the story we’ve spent so much time on, which belongs to people about whom we’ve grown to care? Will you take it into your heart as we did? We depend on you to finish the story.
    Ask Diana Beechener, Mick Blackistone, Audrey Broomfield, Jackie Graves, Sarah Jablon and Kathy Knotts, all writers in this week’s paper. That’s what they’ll tell you. (Dennis Doyle we granted a rare week off.) Even Bay Gardener Francis Gouin thrives on your interest and questions.
    Or how about that page Alex Knoll or Betsy Kehne wrestled with to make it call out to you?
    One of those pages is why I’m smiling as I write. That’s our May 5 two-page spread of people and their dogs promenading with SPCA of Anne Arundel County.
    Appealing as that page looks, bringing it to you is no walk in the park. Just on our side — for I’m not even going to try to imagine all SPCA puts into this annual event — four Bay Weekly humans and one Bay Weekly dog, turned out for the Walk for the Animals. Audrey Broomfield and her husky Misty took the early shift, starting at 7:30am. She and Alex Knoll and son Jack engaged walkers, while Karen Lambert shot photos. From camera to page, Betsy Kehne took over, straining to arrange the montage that had us all wishing we’d been there to see the fun in person.
    By 5pm Wednesday, May 3 we’d put that particularly challenging paper to bed, emailing it to our printer in Virginia, which is a high-tech story of its own. Early Thursday, May 4, 20,000 copies were trucked to us and waiting for their delivery drivers.
    What happened then?
    Did all those people and their dogs put a smile on your face? I’d still be wondering — except that Lou Carter, a woman with her heart in SPCA, phoned to say she was thrilled. What she had to say, you’ll read down the page in Your Say. Because of talking with Lou, I’m smiling, too.
    Our May 11 story, The Magic of Song, reaped another kind of reward. All week, emails from fans of that story’s hero, Jeanne Kelly of Encore Chorale, have been flooding my inbox. Clearly, the impresario of elder song has built quite the network, for each one sang her praises.
    Standing on the wings of appreciation is writer Diana Dinsick, without whom that story would never have been.
    Encore Chorale had been a faint blip on my editorial radar screen for quite some time. For years, we’d reported in 8 Days a Week the Chorale’s regular releases reaching out to singers and announcing concerts. Fans had encouraged us to do a story.
    The spark that turned a good idea into a story came early this spring, in the Chorale’s announcement of its May 13 concert at DAR Constitution Hall. Ah-ha! I said, and opened the line to writer Dinsick, herself a Daughter of the American Revolution. The story that pleased all those readers came to be because Dinsick made the calls, did the interviews, listened to performances, researched the science, wrote the story and endured my editing. Now she’s smiling, too.
    That satisfied smile is usually what happens when we hear from you (unless we’ve made a mistake!).
    The advertisers who bring you Bay Weekly want to hear from you, too. Remember to say, I saw your ad in Bay Weekly!

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher
email editor@bayweekly.com, www.sandraolivettimartin.com

Or, if it’s too late, about her (in which case you can skip the flowers and candy, or enjoy them yourself)

In due to Anna Jarvis, who lobbied for a day to thank our mothers and give women a share of the limelight trained on men, I can think of a couple of good things to say about Mother’s Day.
    First, it’s broad enough to include us all, for while all of us are not mothers, we all do have mothers.
    Second, all of us children expect our mothers to do for us — or wish they would. Indoctrinated in being the center of interest, we tend to give mother short due. Thus it may, as Jarvis believed, take a designated day to refocus our attention from ourselves onto her. We’d be following in the spirit of Jarvis, who decried her invention’s latter commercialization, to use this day to say nice things to mother. Or about her.
    If I have to choose between nice words and candy or flowers, I’ll take nice, and ideally sincere, words. But if I don’t have to choose, I’ll take it all, especially if the candy is dark chocolate and the flowers gardenias.
    When it comes to nice words, almost every mother I know, or knew, would prefer they be said to her rather than about her. But some of us have missed the boat on that, and Mother sailed to that far-off distant shore before we either had anything nice to say … or imagined that she might have found such expressions lacking, at least after we entered our teens.
    So as Mother’s Day approaches, Bay Weekly opens its pages to words and stories about mothers. Some years it’s poems about mothers. Other years it’s stories about how she made us the women and men we are, often against our wills. A couple of years back, lots of writers joined together to tell their stories of how, with your mother on your side, you felt you had muscle, if not invincibility.
    Each of those stories made us feel pretty good about our mother and she — if she got to read them — pretty good about herself and the job of mothering she did.
    This year Anne Sundermann, who you may know as director of Calvert Nature Society, one-ups us all a bit, for her story is about not just one mother but two. Anne promises me that Joan Sundermann, who stands in the background of this story, heard plenty of good things from her children in her lifetime. Birth mother Mary Hayes is hearing her long-lost daughter’s encomiums only recently, including in this story.
    As each one of us has a Mother’s Day story to tell, I’d like to lubricate the telling with a few suggested questions. My questions are frank because mother does long for a true and valid review of how you, who has standing in the matter, think she did her job. In telling the truth you, of course, will be charitable and merciful, for nobody, certainly not mother, wants the whole truth.
    • How does she look in your mind’s eye?
    • When did you feel best loved?
    • What special thing she did pleased you the most?
    • How, gently now, did she get under your skin?
    • What could you have done with more of?
    • Less of?
    • If you knew then what you know now, what would you have asked for?
    • How have you taken after her?
    • What’s a lesson, or habit, you’d have never thought would stick — but did?
    • What do you forgive her for?
    • What would you ask her to forgive you for?
    Well, that’s pretty heavy duty. Maybe you should skip the story and settle for candy and flowers.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher
email editor@bayweekly.com, www.sandraolivettimartin.com

We’re all drawn into the Chesapeake’s force field

The Chesapeake runs through us. If we knew rivers better, how they twist and turn and emerge from many places, I could call the inundated bed of the Susquehanna what it is, our river of life. Easier to understand are trees, which stand in one place and let you see them in their enormity, from their great trunks to their spreading limbs branching irrepressibly into twigs and leaves. (Their roots, for the most part, you have to imagine.)
    The grandest of all trees, mythologically speaking, is Yggdrasil, the Norse tree of life. In centrality and vitality, that tree compares to our Chesapeake.
    For Chesapeake Bay is much more than a nice expanse of water. A medium rich as earth in spawning and sheltering life, it’s a living force whose branches, twigs and leaves run all among us. Get close enough, and you’re in its force field.
    That premise — come close and it has you — brings school children from throughout the watershed to the Bay and its tributary limbs to feel the water and plant oysters, fish fingerlings and grasses they’ve grown in their classrooms. You’ll read about a couple such groups in this week’s Creature Feature by Bay Weekly staffer Audrey Broomfield, who is one of the (adult) students. You’ll also read about a teen whose enchantment with the Chesapeake has earned him recognition as an expert on an epoch that’s history to him (though perhaps still vivid in your memory, as in mine), the rockfish moratorium of 1985 to 1990. Staff writer Kathy Knotts tells his story.
    The kids feel the pull, and so do we.
    You’re reading this paper, which makes it very likely that force has drawn you to Chesapeake Country, as it has so many of us. Since 1950 — the old days — our watershed population has grown from 8.4 million people to 18.1 million. Many of us have entwined our lives with these waters, enjoying them, making a living from them, protecting them. For the many among us who come to the water in pleasure — anglers, cruisers, paddlers, sailors — this is the season of return. That excitement we’re feeling is proof of the power Chesapeake Bay has over us.
    Back to the water is our theme this issue. So we’re giving you information to help you know the Bay better in mind and in person — plus telling you stories of the different ways people relate to the pull of the Chesapeake.
    One is Norman Gross, who makes model boats to record the people of his life and the boats that took them to the water. New to Chesapeake Country and Bay Weekly, writer Jackie Graves got to know where she’s landed better by telling his story.
    Upcoming is one of those weekends when there’s so much to do in Chesapeake Country that you’ll wish you could divide yourself into enough pieces to do it all. If we both manage that division, I’ll see you at the 39th annual Celtic Festival and Highland Games … Craft Beer Festival … Huntingtown Volunteer Fire Department parade … Muddy Creek Artist Guild’s spring show and sale … Pigs and Pearls … South River on the Half Shell … SPCA Walk for the Animals … Speaking of Love — and more than one plant sale. Find directions to all that and more in 8 Days a Week.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher
email editor@bayweekly.com, www.sandraolivettimartin.com

Just how different is now from then?

When you take time to count, thoughts start tickling your brain.
    That sequence — 22-23-24 — which I hadn’t noticed until I wrote it down, could start its own numerological train of thought.
    Here’s another number: 1,219. That’s how many editions of Bay Weekly we will have made in the 24 years since we published Vol. 1 No. 1 on Earth Day 23, April 22, 1993.
    What do all those issue amount to? Where did all those years go? How is now different from then?
    I was coming up with more questions than answers until I bumped into Victoria Coles’ research into changing Chesapeake times.
    We are in the midst of change, Coles told me from her at Horn Point Laboratory in Cambridge, part of the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science.
    Coles and a couple of other researchers, Ralph Hood and Kari St. Laurent, have been “thinking about what people and organisms actually feel: daily weather, 10 or 15 warm days and their cumulative stress on people and environment,” she said.
    They found plenty of answers. But they had to look further than a mere 24 years.
    “In shorter times like 25 or 50 years, you start to see natural climate variability that overshadows long trends,” Coles told me.
    Coles’ team went back 114 years, to the beginning of the 20th century.
    From that perspective, they documented patterns that may feel familiar.
    Summers really are hotter.
    We suffer through 30 more “tropical summer nights” each year now than our ancestors did 100 years ago. On tropical nights, temperatures stay above 68 degrees.
    Maryland is feeling the heat more than Virginia, whose increase was only 20 days, while ours was 40, Coles explained. Since Bay Weekly went into business, we’ve added 10 of those insufferable nights when, without air-conditioning, you never cool off. Your clothes stick to you, your skin feels clammy and you toss and turn.
    That’s only one way we feel the difference.
    “It impacts human health,” Coles said. “When nights are not cooling, impaired immune systems really struggle.”
    Implications extend beyond human health to energy use and crop yields.
    Meanwhile, cold is lessening.
    “Since 1917,” Coles said, “frost days per year have dropped by a full month.”
    “This longterm trend,” she noted, “could be quite different for any given 25-year period because of natural climate variability.” But it could also have given our last quarter-century a week or eight fewer frost days. How does that accord with your experience? Maybe you even kept records.
    Chesapeake Country has grown wetter as well as hotter. As a region, we get about 41⁄2 more inches of rain per year than fell a century ago. Again, Maryland got the lion’s share, a full six inches. Intensity is increasing, too, rising by 10 inches per year (and six in Maryland) in “heavy precipitation events,” Coles said.
    All these changes amount to a longer growing season, 17 days more in Maryland over the past century.
    With all this change comes — no big surprise “lots of variability.” Like this year, Coles noted, “when we saw magnolia blooms get frost killed.”
    Each of those changes has huge consequences that can make the future ever more different and, by our old habits, more difficult to manage. “Agriculturally,” she says — and in so many other ways — “it makes it hard to plan.”
    I’m planning Bay Weekly’s 1,220th issue for April 27, nonetheless.
    Coles and her colleagues hope we will do more.
    “Our point here,” she wrote, “was to talk more about what we’ve been seeing in a way that might convince people to take actions that would increase their own personal and community resilience.”
    That’s what Bay Weekly is about. Every week, I try to take that message home, just as you do.
    Learn more: https://tinyurl.com/changingchesapeake.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher
email editor@bayweekly.com, www.sandraolivettimartin.com

Balancing valid interests — without falling off the tightrope

In 90 days of deliberations since Jan. 11, the 2017 Maryland General Assembly told us a lot about the state we’re in. It’s a message bigger than the sum — and subtraction — of the parts of the hundreds of laws passed or the 2,000-plus bills bypassed this year.
    By their actions, our lawmakers defined Maryland as a sovereign state vis-a-vis the federal government, balancing independence with the interdependence of the union. One place you see that message is the Maryland Defense Act, a Joint Resolution enabling the Maryland Attorney General to sue the federal government for illegal or unconstitutional actions.
    This is a smart step given harm that could come our way from a host of new administration initiatives, from ending long-settled programs to clean up Chesapeake Bay to forcing states and localities to assist with rounding up undocumented immigrants.
    At the same time, our General Assembly defined Maryland as a state that balances commercial interests with human and environmental interests. Keeping both those interests in play is, like tightrope walking, a feat of many tiny acts of adjustment.
    Looking at just a couple of new laws, we see that balancing act play out.
    One starts with oysters, though it’s a lot bigger than oysters or one law alone.
    Everybody wants oysters: They’re good in themselves, they’re good for the Bay, they underwrite Chesapeake culture, they support oystermen and their industry all the way to the table, where they’re good eating.
    How do you get enough oysters to go around, when — as every Marylander knows — we’ve loved them almost to death?
    Oyster sanctuaries are a big part of the current plan, and they’re where the story takes us. If oysters are growing so well in sanctuaries, shouldn’t oystermen — also an endangered species — get some of the bounty? Wouldn’t a harvest every couple of years be a good and fair thing?
    We have competing interests, and each has value and allies.
    Gov. Larry Hogan has sworn to make Maryland a business-friendly state, helping people, oystermen included, make a good living. At the same time, Maryland is committed to the Chesapeake, and that means giving oysters every chance.    
    How do you balance the interests?
    Back and forth, in increments of adjustment.
    This year’s compromise keeps oyster sanctuaries closed to harvest for two more years — until lawmakers and regulators have a sustainable management plan to guide and coordinate every oyster decision.
    That’s good: it takes Maryland a step down the road to planfulness, meaning we try to see choices in their full circle of consequences.
    It’s not so good for the oystermen. If I’m right about the kind of state we Marylanders are in, the balance should be tipped in their favor. Maybe we should encourage Gov. Hogan and our lawmakers to treat oystermen like farmers, who are so well incentivized to balance their livelihood with the good of the Bay — and the economy.
    The same kind of balancing act plays out with wider consequences in Maryland’s new law requiring businesses to give paid sick leave to workers. Lawmakers set the threshold at 15 employees, while the governor says 50. With rhetorical pyrotechnics, he’s promised to veto the lawmaker’s bill, which is still likely to become law.
    Still, the bigger point is that both sides — Republican governor and Democratic-controlled General Assembly — want to balance human needs with corporate interests.
    A state that balances both interests — with give and take on both sides — is a pretty good place to live.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher
email editor@bayweekly.com, www.sandraolivettimartin.com