Get out­side, but slow down

Maryland Independent - - Sports -

Have you been en­joy­ing the cooler turn of our weather?

Novem­ber is a fa­vorite month for me. I re­ally en­joy the mild tem­per­a­tures and the low hu­mid­ity lev­els. Every­thing seems to look so crisp and clear. Speak­ing of things look­ing clear, did you get a chance to check out the su­per­moon on Mon­day night?

Since the skies get dark so much ear­lier now, it was easy to get even the lit­tlest mem­bers of our fam­ily out­side to en­joy the bright glow of the moon when the heavy cloud cover co­op­er­ated.

It was a bit dif­fi­cult for us novices to dis­cern that the moon ap­peared 14 per­cent big­ger than it nor­mally does, but it sure was a lot brighter to the naked eye and every­one thought that was pretty neat.

The bad news is if you missed this astro­nom­i­cal phe­nom­e­non, you’re go­ing to have to wait an­other 18 years to see the moon this close again.

The good news is an­other su­per­moon will grace our skies on Dec. 14. It won’t be quite as large, but you prob­a­bly won’t be able to tell the dif­fer­ence any­way. The im­por­tant thing is to get out­side and take a look at our near­est neigh­bor in the so­lar sys­tem and mar­vel at the amaz­ing work­ings of our uni­verse.

When I was a lit­tle girl, my dad would sit out in the front yard at night in the mid­dle of win­ter with a Ther­mos of hot cof­fee and his tele­scope. Some­times he would call my sis­ter and I out­side to take a look and we’d join him in our pa­ja­mas and win­ter coats for a few min­utes of gaz­ing up at the night sky to­gether.

He would in­struct us in the finer points of stargaz­ing and pro­vide valu­able lessons in astron­omy, telling us sto­ries about the con­stel­la­tions and teach­ing us how to iden­tify the stars. How­ever, now that I think back, it seems like he re­ally wouldn’t let us stay out in the cold with him too long. Now that I’m a par­ent my­self, I can un­der­stand how en­joy­able those rare mo­ments of si­lence and soli­tude must have been for him, with just his cof­fee and the stars.

Slow down

There sure have been a lot of car ac­ci­dents in South­ern Mary­land lately. I’ve seen some pretty hor­ren­dous look­ing wrecks both in per­son and in pho­tos on­line. Just this week I passed by a crash in­volv­ing some cars and two school buses in Leonard­town.

I was be­hind a bus that was drop­ping off kids ev­ery cou­ple streets along Route 5, mo­sey­ing along at a snail’s pace and watch­ing the clock be­cause I was en­route to pick up my kids from school. Then a red pickup truck passed me and got di­rectly be­hind the bus. Sev­eral times he veered over into the other lane, pre­sum­ably to try to pass, and he even drove in

the shoul­der for quite a ways, like it was an­other lane of Route 5.

We ended up stopped next to each other in the turn­ing lanes to Great Mills Road. All those an­tics for miles and miles, and they didn’t get him to his des­ti­na­tion any faster. As we were turn­ing, I looked over and I bet you can guess what he was do­ing while he was driv­ing. Yep, something on his phone.

Folks, don’t take un­nec­es­sary risks on the road. Slow down, not just for deer and other wildlife but for our fel­low hu­man be­ings as well. What­ever you are in a rush to get to, it will still be there when you ar­rive. And, for heaven’s sake, put down your phone and pay at­ten­tion to the road. Some of us are driv­ing around with our most pre­cious trea­sures buck­led in be­side us.

Fish­ing up­date

Perch are hit­ting blood­worms hard on the bot­toms of the river right now. Ken Lamb of The Tackle Box in Lex­ing­ton Park (301-863-8151) said they are wall to wall and catch­ing hun­dreds of perch from 8 to 12 inches, two at a time on dou­ble hook bot­tom rigs is the norm.

Lamb also said cat­fish are in the up­per reaches of the Po­tomac and

Patux­ent rivers and are “big and plenty.” Cut alewives is great bait. There are so many cat­fish that bass fish­er­men are even catch­ing them on bass lures in the up­per Po­tomac.

See some rap­tors in per­son

Car­di­nals, blue jays and chick­adees are all fine and dandy birds, but those birds of prey — like the owl, hawk, and ea­gle — are truly mag­nif­i­cent crea­tures.

Some of us are lucky enough to see them fly­ing over­head as they scout out a meal or perched up high on a tree branch, but rarely are we able to ob­serve these crea­tures from an arm’s length away.

On Nov. 19, there is an op­por­tu­nity to view a few of these rap­tors in per­son. Ea­gle Pines Fal­conry and Rap­tor Res­cue, lo­cated near Rich­mond, Va., will be at Wild Birds Un­lim­ited in Lex­ing­ton Park from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with an as­sort­ment of their winged won­ders, in­clud­ing a bald ea­gle.

The goal of re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion is al­ways first and fore­most to re­turn a res­cued an­i­mal to the wild. Un­for­tu­nately for some birds, in­jury or ill­ness can make that goal im­pos­si­ble. These an­i­mals can still serve a no­ble pur­pose, ed­u­cat­ing the pub­lic. And, for a small do­na­tion, you can even hold one of their smaller

winged charges.

And while you’re there to see the hawks and fal­cons, take a few min­utes to look around the shop. I was there just a day ago, and it’s al­ready splen­didly dec­o­rated for Christ­mas with plenty of gift ideas for the bird lover on your list.

The folks at Wild Birds Un­lim­ited are some of the friendli­est and most help­ful peo­ple. They even carry your pur­chases out to the car for you, which

is much ap­pre­ci­ated when you’re hustling four kids out the door.

And they sure know their game. A few times I’ve been lucky to be there when there’s a pro­mo­tion and I’ve left with a free feeder. Of course, I’m go­ing to need even more of their deluxe bird­seed to keep them all filled. But the num­ber and va­ri­ety of birds that flock to the feed­ers in my back­yard is cer­tainly worth it.

Jamie Drake jamiedrake­out­doors @out­


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