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And the Winners Are ...

We’ve saved the best for last.     That’s Best of the Bay, Bay Weekly’s 16th annual report on what, and who, gives you the most satisfaction in Chesapeake Country.     I love this issue because of its scope.     First, Bay Weekly’s Best of the Bay encompasses more than 200 categories ranging from Best Crab Soup, Best Overall Restaurant, Best Gift Shop, Best View and many more.

Organize the coming year with one of these Bay calendars

Want to know where you’re headed before the clock strikes midnight on December 31? Buy your calendar now, and you’ll kick off 2014 with map in hand for your new year.     To guide you in a decision that will hang over you for the next 12 months, we reviewed 11 calendars with ties to Maryland and Chesapeake Country, plus the Farmers Almanac calendar, indispensible for Bay gardeners of all skill levels.

Calvert Marine Museum closing for three months of renovation

Now’s the time to pack up family and holiday visitors for a trip to Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons. Come January 1, the family-friendly, 43-year-old museum closes for three months for renovation. When it opens again, it won’t be the old familiar place.

A tottering old soul

King Coal’s crown seems to be teetering.     The second fuel of America’s prosperity may be losing the race to the future, just as wood did before it. Scarcity is not the problem; many of America’s coalfields continue producing high yields. At issue are the consequences of the fossil fuel’s combustion: carbon pollution clogging air and lungs.

The lessons at Anne Arundel Community ­College’s Culinary Institute will last well after the new yearBob Melamud

Food eaten between November 1 and New Year’s Day contains no calories. I suspect I’m not alone in honoring this conviction. Yet a lifetime of stepping on the scale January 2 has convinced me that our cherished belief is a cruel urban legend.     This year I faced an additional challenge. Our editor assigned me to take and report on an Anne Arundel Community College Culinary Institute holiday class. Biscotti, cookies, Scandinavian baking and truffles tempted me — and promised an overabundance of extra calories.

Courthouse Square now looks a lot like Christmas

On December 3, the Parish Hall At Christ’s Church in Port Republic bustles with four dozen Calvert Garden Clubbers preparing to decorate the county courthouse with evergreens harvested a day earlier at four local farms.     “We call it the Greening,” says cochair Mary Berkley.     Wearing monogrammed aprons, they work likes elves trimming magnolia, grapevine and boxwood for wreaths, fragrant sprays and evergreen ropes.

The trip starts with Maryland’s Bike and Foot Master Plan

Hey, car … van … SUV … RV … bus … truck, can you give walkers and bikers a little room?     If that’s your plea, you’ll find fascinating reading in Maryland’s Draft Twenty-Year Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan.     Developed by transportation planners and interested walkers and bikers throughout the state, the plan aims at “making walking and bicycling an integral part of Maryland’s transportation system.”

Our many reasons for thanks amount to many reasons for giving

As much a part of Thanksgiving as the feast is its sharing.         Like turkey, gratitude is a dish best taken in company. It’s just too big to manage on your own. Alongside the dressing, potatoes and cranberries, tales of blessings make the rounds.     With full hearts and bellies, we’re primed to encompass the community in our circle of grace.

Michael Ryan’s baton and mighty voice bring the Messiah home to St. James Parish

Late afternoon on Thanksgiving Sunday, singers file into the 1765-church. Some carry their well-thumbed scores of Handel’s Messiah; others will borrow or buy a score, $10 at the door.     As 4pm approaches, some 200 wait for director Michael S. Ryan to lower his baton.      For the 27th year, annual Advent Messiah Sing-Along opens the Christmas season at historic St. James Parish with joyful impromptu song.

Foresee this year’s inch total and Laura Neuman will buy you lunch

Is it ever going to snow in Maryland? Probably, out there in our mountainous west. But how about closer to home? Will Anne Arundelians see snow in 2013-2014?     Nobody knows when — or if — it will snow.     But that shouldn’t stop you from guessing. Especially when the right guess can win you lunch — as well as bragging rights.