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Tips on giving thanks by giving to charity

If all the layered meanings of America’s national feast day could be packed into a verb, to have seems to me the right one. We give thanks because we have, rather than have not. So it’s no wonder that the great feast got its impetus in times when having not was such a real alternative that it might be only a step away. The Pilgrims were Europeans with no local knowledge to help them survive this land so arduously far from home. What would winter bring? How did you ward against it?...

Big rockfish make foul-weather fishing worth while

Getting in on the early-winter rockfish bite can be quite unpleasant. Except for the lucky anglers with big, enclosed boats that can safely and comfortably ply our cold, windswept Bay, most anglers this time of year must simply deal with November’s increasingly nasty weather.    Fish Are Biting Good fishing for stripers is occurring throughout the main Bay, with fish to seven pounds being taken by trolling, fishing cut bait, chumming and casting to breakers. Farther south,...

Composting returns all those nutrients to the garden

The soil in my first garden at Upakrik Farm in 1991 was mostly hard clods of silt. Because I have added liberal amounts of compost over the past 19 years, my soil is now loose, friable and highly productive. I attribute the change entirely to the use of compost. Ninety percent of the leaves that I rake become mulch under my shrubs and in the flower gardens. The remaining leaves go to the compost pile. To hasten their composting, I run the lawn mower through the pile of leaves, grinding them...

What do we save and what do we sacrifice?

Saving the Last Farm on the Magothy, my November 4 column, brought lots of interesting mail that sent me down a broader path through the Preservation Woods. Lucy Illif, who owns one of the few remaining farms in Arnold, reminded me that the Jordan Property next to Ritchie Highway has just been rezoned commercial and that the whole area is being swallowed up by houses and shopping malls. “Will our farm now be the last one in Arnold?” she wondered. This opened up an old wound for me....

See if you can spot the five naked-eye planets

Sunset reveals Jupiter high in the south, shining far brighter than any other object. The king of planets is truly massive — more than twice as large as all the other planets combined. That’s a lot of reflective surface, which makes up for its distance from the sun. While more than three times as far from the sun as its inner neighbor Mars, Jupiter is second in brightness only to Venus. And despite its huge girth, Jupiter spins faster than any other planet, so that one Jovian day is...

Meet the Farmer, Green Grocer and Buy-Local Restaurant of the Year

Wilderness, farmland, paved land: That’s the trajectory Maryland has followed since its founding as Lord Baltimore’s colony 376 years ago. So a county that can keep its farm traditions alive does so with pride. Thus Calvert County, where 55,000 acres of land are zoned as Farm and Forest Districts, made its First Annual Sustainable Agriculture Awards this year.  Citizens voted awards in three categories: Sustainable Farmer, Green Grocer and Buy-Local Restaurant of the year....

Sign up for Bird School and you’ll think like a bird

As cold weather sets in and you fill your bird feeders, you’ll find hours of entertainment — and bafflement — in their behavior. What are they up to with all the strutting, head-bobbing, feather-fluffing and wing flapping? Get the answers from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, now enrolling backyard birders in the online bird-behavior course Investigating Behavior: Courtship and Rivalry in Birds. Over five weeks, you’ll learn how to observe and interpret bird behavior in...

A veteran engineer and novice conductor race to subdue a rampaging locomotive in this fun chase.

Frank (Denzel Washington: The Book of Eli) is a veteran railroad engineer trying to train up a distracted rookie, Will (Chris Pine: Star Trek). They’ve just hit the main line when they find out a fully loaded runaway train with tankers full of highly explosive cargo — “a missile the size of the Chrysler Building” — is roaring through southern Pennsylvania towns at speeds over 70 miles per hour toward a dangerous S-curve. If somebody doesn’t stop it, the train...

The brightest stars of two seasons outshine the full moon’s glare

Sunday’s full moon shines amid the stars of Taurus the bull. Ten degrees east of the moon you’ll find the red-giant Aldebaran. Half that distance to the moon’s west look for a small, fuzzy patch of light. So close to the moon’s glare, you may need binoculars to discern the stars of the Pleiades cluster. While this full moon looks much like any other, it has the distinction of being a true blue moon. You may think of a blue moon as the second in a single month, and that...

Season’s Bounty, this week’s special supplement, will keep you busy into 2011

Your key to unlock the season of good will, good times and good eating is in your hand. Or upon your lap. Or waiting for you, like a present to be opened, in that special place you keep Bay Weekly. The key is Season’s Bounty, stuffed inside this week’s paper. This annual special is our gift to you, delivered early to guide you through the long winter holiday season.  Since October, Bay Weekly has been a miniature of Santa’s workshop, with every one of our elves laboring...