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Looking at a star map, the world really is turned upside-down

A reader asked what she was seeing from her northeast-facing window. “Would I see evening or morning stars in this direction?” And would the same be true for planets? “I did look at your column and thought I understood the paragraph about Venus, but now I'm not so sure. Help! Thanks a bunch.” Only after reading and re-reading did I realize her problem: I was flat-out wrong, falling victim to my own sky map, inverting east and west, thus greatly confusing this reader...

Week 15: The Lone Child

  The other morning, I looked out the window to see Olivia off the nest, sitting on a perch I had nailed to a nearby piling. She was busily preening her feathers. After seven weeks virtually glued to the nest, she had taken on a rumpled and ragged look. I guess she finally felt that the kid(s) could get along without her for a short time while she did some personal grooming without being bothered by her ever-hungry chick(s) clamoring for attention. But she was soon back on the job, trying...

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  Marylanders Kill Oysters  Dear Bay Weekly: Putting oysters in the Severn River [Creature Feature: June 10) amounts to little more than animal cruelty. Saving the Bay is not about putting the right number of oysters in the Bay; it is about improving water quality to a point that oysters can survive. The oysters that have been put in the Severn for more than two decades are dead. More than 50 percent of the oysters that Severn River Association planted this summer will be dead by next...

Fowler’s Followers wade in for the Patuxent

  Bernie Fowler’s Sneaker Index did not soar this year. He saw 341x2 inches of leg, for a water clarity index equal to that of 2004, but far below the goal of 57 inches last seen in 1960. The former state senator and Patuxent River champion needed many to the ninth power to describe the years it will take before the river is as clear, hence unpolluted, as in his youth.  “Bernie Fowler is never going to live long enough to see the river cleaned up,” he said, comparing...

Keep your eyes peeled for more Maryland plates this summer

  Just in time for the long, irritable driving hours to your summer vacation, license plate bingo gets more interesting. School’s end brought a new standard license plate to Maryland. Maryland War of 1812 plates, issued on Flag Day, June 14, are still rare enough that they should be worth double points on highway bingo. But they won’t be rare for long, as the new commemorative plate is standard issue and will gradually replace Maryland’s old black-and-white plate with the...

Mapmaker Dave Linthicum has dedicated 17 years
to mapping Maryland’s River

Chesapeake Country’s Skyline Drive — with boats, not cars. That’s how Dave Linthicum sees the Patuxent River, which runs by his front door. Ask him why, and off his tongue rolls a list of Patuxent River glories. It’s lovely, for one, he says, with a quiet beauty that creeps up on you like fog. The Patuxent is historic. Humans have lived on its shores for 10,000 years, leaving their relics and place markers. Native Americans wrote their chapters of history on the land,...

It makes no nitrogen to spare

  A few weeks back (June 3), we talked about how to grow a clover lawn. There are advantages to clover, but feeding the grass isn’t one of them. It’s true that clover is a legume, and it fixes its own nitrogen from Earth’s atmosphere. But clover won’t fertilize the lawn where it’s growing.  The nitrogen that clover fixes is totally utilized by the clover plant and is not released into the soil unless the clover plant is killed. Only after the nitrogen has...

The Patuxent is hungry for your love

  Do you love a river? We’ve all got good reason to. Rivers wrote the American story. This land was penetrated, mapped and settled on the backs of rivers. You crossed an ocean so full of peril that the old maps told no lies in populating the big waters with sea monsters. You bumped ashore on some care-worn ship and began scratching out a living in the hard dirt. When you were ready to pick up and move farther inland, seeking something better, you rode a river. The ride wasn’t...

The Patuxent is hungry for your love

  Do you love a river? We’ve all got good reason to. Rivers wrote the American story. This land was penetrated, mapped and settled on the backs of rivers. You crossed an ocean so full of peril that the old maps told no lies in populating the big waters with sea monsters. You bumped ashore on some care-worn ship and began scratching out a living in the hard dirt. When you were ready to pick up and move farther inland, seeking something better, you rode a river. The ride wasn’t...

Brown pelicans arrive after wintering on the Gulf Coast

  The brown pelican, Pelicanus occidentalis, is the state bird of Louisiana. Worldwide, there are six species of pelican. Two species, the white and the brown, are native to the U.S. The brown is the smallest of all; Atlantic browns are even smaller than the ones in the Pacific. Still they are large and with their huge bill, unmistakable. For years, brown pelicans were not to be seen on the Chesapeake — or anywhere. From the late 1950s until the mid 1980s, the brown pelican...