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Stories that need to be told

Agricultural program grows at Phoenix Academy

They’re out to trap cast-off ­monofilament line

Since plastic leaf bags aren’t biodegradable, their residue will remain in the soil for eternity

Use wet-strength paper bags in place of plastic bags for curbside yard debris collection: That’s the plea of the Anne Arundel County Department of Public Works.     I wish the county would make that mandatory, as it has been for residents of Montgomery County since the yard-waste composting program started in the early 1980s. Paper bags compost, while plastic bags have to be ruptured and emptied before composting can begin. Furthermore, the emptied plastic bags...

There’s a lot to see before dawn

Venus, Jupiter and Mars command the pre-dawn sky, strung out in a nearly straight line above the east horizon. The first-magnitude star Spica crests the horizon a little before sunrise, adding a fourth point in the string of lights.     Of the three planets, Jupiter is highest, rising around 1:30am. Venus is more than 20 degrees below Old Jove and rises almost two hours later. But once over the horizon there should be no mistaking the Morning Star. About halfway between Venus...

Fine dog work, great company and challenging birds make for a ­memorable hunt

A double layer of warm technical clothing, heavy brush chaps and a stout hunting coat were barely holding the elements at bay.     Out front a wild pheasant had just broken from cover, speeding low over dense treetops and right at me. Backlit by the sun, I couldn’t tell if it was a rooster or a protected hen, so I held my fire, waiting for the bird to display its colors. Fingering the safety, I tried to warn my partner of its approach but doubted that he heard me over the...

In this historical biopic, women become warriors for the right to vote

A London laundry worker since she was seven, Maud Watts (Carey Mulligan: Far from the Madding Crowd) works long hours as harsh chemicals corrode her lungs. She’s paid less by the hour than male co-workers, who get to spend their days outside the factory making deliveries.     It’s abominable. It’s unfair. It’s life in early 20th century England.     A coworker who believes in the suffragette movement, which demands the vote for women as...

Ships’ graveyard possible National Marine Sanctuary site

The Potomac River continues to bear the legacy of World War I — which ended 97 years ago this week — in one of the Chesapeake watershed’s secret places, Mallows Bay.     Tucked into the coastline of Charles County, Mallows Bay is the final resting place for 88 World War I wooden steamships of the U.S. Emergency Fleet. Built between 1917 and 1919, these ships were to supply European and American troops with much-needed supplies.     “It was...

Reflecting on Annapolis Library’s half-century at West Street

Words that are sure to kill my children’s enthusiasm for an outing: exhibit, collection, display. Thus my two sons did not approach our trip to the Annapolis Library display on library technology with much vigor and vim.     Technology saved the evening. Once inside the 50-year-old West Street library, Jonah, 11, slunk away to work on homework. Jordan, 7, ­headed straight for the children’s area. There he eagerly attacked the scavenger hunt honoring the library...

Start building for the Severna Park Lego Open

Break out the bricks for the second Severna Park Lego Open. This year’s competition, sponsored by Speight Studio Architects, is to build a holiday-themed design using Lego bricks, but no assembled kits.     What you choose to build with the Lego bricks you use are limited only by your imagination — and the 16-by-16-by-16-inch size restriction. Set your creation on a base plate.     Who can compete is a tighter fit. You must be between the ages of...

Follow the Capitol Christmas Tree

In a 45-year-old tradition, the Christmas tree that shines throughout December on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol is cut in a national forest in a different state each year.     This year’s Capitol Christmas Tree, a towering 74-foot Lutz spruce, was cut in Alaska’s Chugach National Forest on October 27. Two cranes were needed to lift the 7,500-pound tree from its 90-year home.     It is the first national tree from Alaska, and it will be quite a trip....

It’s Maryland’s first propane-fueled school bus

The Blue Bird school bus that picked up Glen Burnie public school students on November 3 was an innovation, though its riders may not have noticed. What makes it different from any other Type C school bus is what goes in the tank: propane auto gas. Bus No. 789, the newest in contractor Randall Jubb’s Bus Service, Inc.’s fleet, is Maryland’s first school bus fueled by propane.     Commonly used as a home energy source for heating and...

Canada geese are here, ducks arriving, swans not far behind

Back when people were fewer in the Chesapeake watershed, skies used to blacken with waterfowl.     You can get a glimpse of how abundant waterfowl can be, starting with Canada geese.     Big Vs of Canadas are as common as school buses. You hear them coming by their honking.     Our kayak path on Herring Bay puts us under big landings and takeoffs. When you’re flat on the water, even a flock of big birds — and a ­Canada goose can...