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Be Careful

In Chesapeake Country we are not alone

A twist of current? A floating isle of seagrass?
    In the next instant, my speculation took form as a large turtle rising through the bottle-glass water. A cousin of Calypso, the rescued sea turtle star of the National Aquarium in Baltimore’s Blacktip Reef exhibit? The star, too, of Kathy Knotts’ story this issue in honor of the 25th anniversary of the Rescue Center, she was on my mind. But the hooked beak then poking at the meniscus of the water marked this apparition as a snapping turtle. No baby ducks paddled on the cove this year. Even the resident heron was absent. Perhaps I know why.
    One way and another, it’s getting to be the turtle time of year. Box turtles will soon be crossing our roads. Humans are as dangerous to them as snappers are to ducklings. Our cars squash them; abandoned crab pots imprison them. From the marsh edge of Bay Weekly’s former office between Rockhold Creek and Tracys Creek, production manager Betsy Kehne and I once pulled out a derelict crab pot containing the empty shells of three box turtles that had wandered in but could find no way out.
    Diamondback terrapins can also die in crab pots. In this week’s paper, Bob Melamud tells you how to buy or rig your traps to avoid drowning Maryland’s mascot reptile — thus being a law-abiding citizen.
    Both those stories remind us that we are not alone. Chesapeake Country is full of life — from turtles, who give us occasional glimpses … to foxes, no longer unusual … to commonplace deer, raccoons and opossums … to squirrels, our everyday neighbors … to the constant companionship of birds big as eagles and small as hummingbirds, bees, butterflies and beetles.
    Thus this issue continues our series on our riverkeepers. This week’s installment is written by South Riverkeeper Jesse Iliff, who describes his personal journey from legal eagle to water guardian. Day by day, our riverkeepers embody the responsibility we citizens of Chesapeake Country share: living carefully in our rich but vulnerable ecosystem.
    Perhaps America’s wilderness-taming spirit suspects the word careful as a synonym for cautious. That’s not the reality. English gives us full as a generous suffix, enabling us to take a host of words, and qualities, as our own. Just as awful is full of awe, careful is full of care. When we are careful, we put our full care to our thoughts and actions, giving care to whatever prepositional object follows that phrase.
    Thus buying,crab traps with turtle excluders — or installing them on your own — is a careful act. Watching for turtles on the road is careful. As knowledge is a step toward becoming careful, knowing the work of our riverkeeper helps make us careful. As does knowing about the National Aquarium Rescue Center.
    We can be careful without endangering our national character. The Blue Angels you’ll also read about in this issue — in preparation for their usually annual visit to Annapolis for the Naval Academy’s Commissioning Week — are anything but cautious. But you can bet those pilots are careful as their A/F 18 Hornets fly within 18 inches of another’s wingtips.
    Careful is a lovely word, adding values to our selves, recognizing value in the world around us.

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