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Winterizing on The Eastern Shore PDF Print E-mail
Written by Fran Severn   
Friday, 20 November 2009 22:15

It’s November. Nearly Thanksgiving. Ok, so nobody’s wearing shorts any more, but we’ve only had one frost warning so far, and the temps this weekend are going to be in the 60’s.

Not that I’m complaining. The mild weather of Delmarva is one of its charms. Far from it. But I’m now facing my annual autumn dilemma.

How do I get ready for winter?

I can probably be sure that we’ll only get an inch or two of snow during the entire season. One really cold snap that’ll last three or four days. The rest of the season will be parka cold during the day, parka and sweater cold overnight, with a few sweatshirt cold days tossed in to make us feel better.

But what if this isn’t a usual winter? What if this is the year we get hit with the blizzards and ice storms they get on the Western Shore every couple of years? What if this winter is the Deep Freeze that the Midwest got last winter?

Then what?

I’ve got this pile of catalogs overflowing from the recycle box next to my desk. Most of them I don’t even look through. But there are a few that give me pause. Do I need the undergarments from Winter Silks? What about the flannel shirts from L.L. Bean and Land’s End? I don’t order shoes from catalogs, but the boot catalogs sent me on a mission to The Shoe Department. I didn’t buy anything, but what if this is the year of snow up to your waist?

What about the dogs? Do I buy the shaker container of dog-safe, eco-friendly ice melter? Should I insulate my outside water faucets against sub-zero temps? Buy that solar-and-hand-crank powered emergency radio I saw at Staples? Why didn’t I can more tomatoes this year? I bought a half-cord of wood. The last half cord lasted three years. But is it still enough? How many jerry jugs of gasoline should I buy to power the generator if we lose power? Visiting Ace Hardware can be a very expensive venture these days. I go in to buy light bulbs, and spend another $60 on fire starters and an ergonomic snow shovel.

I’ll dither, just like I always do. I'll worry, but decide to wait and see what happens. Knowing that if 'it' happens, I'll kick myself for being too frugal to be prepared. And betting that 'it' won't happen this year, either. And then we’ll be into March, the half-inch of snow that shut down Salisbury for three days will have come and gone, and we’ll be checking the garden centers for the first spring flowers. And I’ll be relieved that I didn’t panic and go buy a lot of stuff I didn’t need. Until next November…

Last Updated on Monday, 23 November 2009 12:00
 
The Wild Tires of Assateague PDF Print E-mail
Written by Fran Severn   
Friday, 20 November 2009 21:52

Legend says that the Wild Ponies of Assateague and Chincoteague were washed ashore when a Spanish galleon wrecked off-shore during a storm.

Whether that’s true of not is a matter of great debate. But no one can doubt the origin of the thousands of tires washed ashore during Nor’Ida last weekend. They’re from a man-made reef out in the Atlantic off Ocean City.

There are a bunch of man-made reefs anywhere from three to thirteen miles off the coast. They were installed back in the 1970s as a way to create habitat for marine life. Back then, it was considered a pretty nifty way to get rid of old tires. Nowadays, not so much.

The staff at Assateague says they find washed up tires pretty regularly, but never more than a couple at a time. After this storm, though, they’re looking at dragging about 2,000 sand-filled, partially decomposed tires up the beach and into dumpsters. Volunteers are welcome. Very welcome.

Aside from the tires, Assateague survived the storm without much impact. The ponies found what high ground there is, turned their tails to the wind, hunkered down, and survived as they always do. The big wash of water was a plus for the marshes on the back side of the island, which usually escapes ocean impact. It created some new habitat for the piping plover, an endangered shore bird. The campground and Over Sand Vehicle Zones are still closed temporarily. But if you want to see what a barrier island is all about, this is the time to visit Assateague.

-0-

 

Last Updated on Sunday, 22 November 2009 09:34
 
O.C.Island Getaway PDF Print E-mail
Written by Fran Severn   
Friday, 20 November 2009 21:29

“De plane, Boss. De Plane!”

You, too, can soon have your own Fantasy Island. Right out in the middle of Assawoman Bay, within sight of the Ocean City skyline.

Thirty acres of wetlands, hummocks, and two small islands, known as South Hammocks, are up for auction this weekend. Look into Assawoman Bay from 120th Street. Those dark, low patches about a mile from shore? That’s it.

The only habitable structure is an aged trailer that the current owner uses as his hunting camp. No one is too sure how or when it got there. Aside from that and a couple of duck blinds, it’s as pristine and undisturbed as the whole barrier island complex was before the first tourist arrived.

The land is currently owned by Gary Frick, a West Ocean City electrician. It’s killing him to put it up for auction, but times are hard, and he needs the money to keep his business solvent. It’s appraised at $293,000. Auctioneer Doug Marshall says he thinks it’ll bring between $250,000-$400,000. In the boom years, it would have commanded twice that. He’s not tied to a minimum bid, so if you want to go bid just to say you almost brought an island once, but then decided against it, you won’t be lying.

If you do walk away with the deed, you’ll be limited to how grand an estate you can build. Any new structures have to fit the footprint of the existing one and will be subject to a whole slew of environmental regulations.

The auction is set for Sunday afternoon at 1 pm at the Lighthouse Sound Golf Club. If you want to check out the property before that, there will be boat tours every 30 minutes leaving on Saturday from Harpoon Hanna’s. For details, call 410-749-8092.

Last Updated on Monday, 23 November 2009 12:02
 
Where's Duke PDF Print E-mail
Written by Fran Severn   
Friday, 20 November 2009 19:12

Brooke Mulford is a tough little girl. Last Christmas day, when she was four, she seemed to have a sinus infection. Then maybe an infection in her hip. By New Year’s Day, she was in great pain and could barely move.

The docs in Philadelphia did not have good news. Brooke has neuroblastoma. Wikipedia says it’s an ‘extracranial solid cancer,’ and gives a lot of technical details. Bottom line: it’s an ugly bastard of a cancer, and it’s only target is very young children.

But if community support counts for anything, Brooke has an ace in the hole. Since her diagnosis, the regulars at The Market Street Inn, which her parents own, community groups, and businesses have held fundraisers to cover the things insurance doesn’t.

Friday was one of those nights. Gordy’s Tiger Marts sponsored buy-a-sub-and-help-Brooke day. There are three Tiger Marts (Exxon stations), and two of them have Subway stores. Local characters were invited to be ‘celebrity chefs.’ They, of course, called all of their friends to stop by, take advantage of 2-for-1 sub deals, enter a drawing to win Ravens tickets, and give them a hard time. Since one of the chefs was Duke Marshall, a Smith Islander and one of the most character-y of the Eastern Shore characters, I made it a point to schedule my sub-buying at the time and place where I would find him.

I headed out to Tiger Mart #1 about 5 pm. This one is on Autumn Grove on Rt. 50, just before the bypass. From Duke’s Facebook page, I thought that’s where he’d be. The parking area was full, and while the line stretched across the length of the store, Duke wasn’t there. Oh, he’s at the Tiger Mart up by the Salisbury Mall. Ok, I’d head there. In the meantime, who can resist a two-for-one sale? In the firm belief that God does not count calories if they are consumed for charitable purposes, I left with a cheese steak and a chicken Cordon Bleu sub. If I hurried, I’d reach Tiger Mart #2 before Duke’s shift ended at six. I wolfed down the cheese steak on the way.

The Tiger Mart at the mall has a Hardee’s not a Subway. And it didn’t have Duke, either. Oh, he’s at the Tiger Mart on Isabella Street on Rt. 50, where Isabella turns into Nanticoke Road. Did I know where that was?

Yeah, kinda. I live just off Nanticoke. That intersection is almost within walking distance of my house. I zip down Rt. 50, pieces of the chicken Cordon Bleu tumbling onto my lap as I rattle off the metal plates from the construction by the railroad overpass. I’m not going to make it. Marketplace is airing the music selection that tells how the stock market fared that day, the last piece of the show. It’s just six when I pull into the gravel lot behind the Tiger Mart. Cars, trucks, a couple of police vehicles and fire department cars fill the spaces. All of them are there to buy subs. I burp as I climb out of my truck. Duke is standing near the door, getting ready to leave. Made it!

“Frannie! How ya doin’? Are you here to buy a sub?”

(If you want to learn more about Brooke and the Brooke Mulford Foundation, visit www.brookemulford.com. Thank you.)

Last Updated on Monday, 23 November 2009 12:12
 
Shooting Stars Aimed Elsewhere PDF Print E-mail
Written by Fran Severn   
Tuesday, 17 November 2009 12:32

Last night was perfect for watching the Leonid meteor shower – clear, moonless. In Tyaskin, there are no lights to speak of. The little park is totally unlit and the non-vista across the Chesapeake Bay is perfect – an inky black backdrop to the star-spangled sky. But I was meeting a friend who has a farm nearby, so I drove down there before midnight and took a nap in the back of my truck, ready to get up at 2:30 and stare upward. SImilar neck-stretching exercises were planned across Delmarva.

 

It’s freaking cold at 2:30 a.m. in Tyaskin. I wrapped up in my quilt and parked on a bench by the barn. And I stared. And stared. Occasionally, a star would skim across the sky, leaving a trail of fairy dust in its wake. But only occasionally. Where were the ‘potentially 100 meteors an hour’ that the celestial prognosticators were promising? I’d’ve settled for 10. Meanwhile, my nose was numb, and the bench was hard against my back and butt, even with a pillow and the quilt for cushioning. I knew there was a group planning to kayak around Assateague at 4:00 am. I hoped the paddling was good, because the light show might disappoint.

 

Not that the night was without some magic. The farm is home to donkeys, horses, pigs, chickens, cats, one goat, a sheep, several domestic turkeys, and an orphaned steer. Even in the deepest dark, it is not quiet. It’s kind of nice to listen to the generally quiet sounds of a farm at rest. I learned that pigs grunt softly in their sleep, horses pass gas at an amazing rate, donkeys like to bray loudly and long in the middle of the night, and roosters don’t wait until daybreak to greet the dawn.

 

A little after 5, there was one super spray of light. Yellow, white, and red-gold, it looked as though one of the meteors split up and two arcs of sparks traced the path of the debris. That was the finale for me. The shower’s scheduled to repeat tonight. Part of me is pathological enough to want to try it again. A spectacular meteor shower is, well, spectacular. And rare. And worth the effort to see.

 

Maybe. Check back tomorrow…

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 November 2009 12:36
 
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