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Lightening the Load

The lifting’s easier when we love it

TDML is a leaden initialism, as the experts opined at Smithsonian Environmental Research Center’s confab last week on how we can help restore the Bay by reducing our Total Daily Maximum Load.
    The job is heavy lifting, too, as we’ve written in these pages more times than once, most recently in the September 29 story Sharing the Load (
    Yet I’m uplifted day by day in the many ways I see people changing — as Steve Kullen said in that story — “our evil ways.” We’re reforming as individuals and as collaborators, as thinkers and as doers, as buyers and as sellers. That we’re reforming joyfully is good news, because unless the reward we get is as big as the effort we give, we’re likely to revert.
    A couple of those transformations — a word I like better than reformations — appear as stories in this week’s paper.
    Its spooky name lured Margaret Tearman into investigating Spider Hall Farm. What she found when she visited inspired her story.
    “It’s much more than a farm or a farm stand,” she told me. “They’ve got this whole idea about agricultural education.”
    Yes, I know that the words agricultural education don’t spark thrills in most of us. But the concept behind it, as Tearman explains and as I’ve seen for myself, is more entertaining. It means you can wander from the farm market into the farm fields. That’s the heading of this Buy Local tide so many of us are riding.
    The apple or pumpkin we seek in its terroir (there’s that French word again; if I write place instead, will you know what I mean?) is the point of contact. But when you go to all the trouble to track down a food in its place, you get a longing to know more about it. You want to talk to the farmer, and you want some first-hand experience. You want to see the tree or the patch. Even to get out among pumpkins and apples in their natural habitat.
    That’s why we visit pumpkin patches and corn mazes and Christmas tree farms and wineries. A farm like Spider Hall, where teaching is built into the visit, brings us closer still and lengthens the season past Halloween or Christmas.
    What does place have to do with restoring our Bay?
    Our local connection reduces the transported distance of the food we eat and the pollution arising from the fossil fuel that crosses the distance. As more of us make the connection, we sustain a movement. Pretty soon, we make a big difference rather than a little one. The TDML is lighter when we’re all lifting.
    The U.S. Boat Shows are the source of another story about transformations you’ll read in this week’s paper, Greening the U.S. Boat Shows. That’s a story about a big first step, taken by the show operators in conjunction with a couple of Annapolis-based partners, to making the Boat Shows a model of recycling.
    Like ripples from a pebble in a pond, the uplifting news radiates from there. In writing this story, I learned that a half-dozen other favorite Annapolis parties and festivals have already walked a distance toward full-tilt recycling. The Eastport Tug of War upcoming the first Saturday in November will be one more.
    Isn’t that good news? It should be if seeing trash pile up with perfectly good recyclables clouds your good time.
    The soon-to-be released results of the Boat Show waste study will be all the more interesting because Boat Show trash tends to be invisible. Food and drink aren’t served on premises. So we’ll be learning a secret story, about how we produce trash without even knowing it.
    The Boat Show waste study is but one aspect of good environmental news I saw at this year’s Boat Shows. The Sail Boat Show, of course, is an elaborate and enticing marketplace for wind, and you can’t get much greener than that. But even at the Power Boat Show, we’re seeing more options.
    Canoes and kayaks and paddle boats are there. The range of bigger options is increasing, too. As well as motor-sailors, I checked out electric boats this year. In truth, I’m edging on the brink of trouble. Last week, after writing that the Boat Shows are dangerous places, did I avoid the occasion of sin?
    After hours aboard the Green Line, a hybrid electric-diesel, I’m imagining all the places I could go, slowly and soundlessly, on solar power. It’s a lovely boat, and all its teak is sustainably farmed.
    Will I ever get those places on a Green Line? I don’t know. But I’m gleefully counting that boat as one more way we’re learning to lift bigger shares of our TDML, sometimes even loving the lifting.