Tony Hiss has a Plan for the Delmarva

It should be said up front that Tony Hiss’s family has long been familiar with the Eastern Shore well before he was born. With his famous and controversial father, Alger, and mother, Priscilla, frequently staying in Kent County to visit friends and their older son at camp in Quaker Neck, or, with his uncle, Don, a partner at Covington and Burling, having a second home in Talbot County, the roots to this area and its landscape are deeply felt. But his desire to ecologically and culturally protect the Shore is much more tied to his professional life as a writer, first with the New Yorker and now as an independent author.

With such well received books such as The Experience of Place and In Motion: The Experience of Travel, Tony has a impressive history of being intrigued by humans interacting in the city, the countryside, and in the wilderness. And that includes new ways of planning and managing these immediate and often overlooked places.

All of this has made a perfect background to support Tony’s new quest to refine the entire Delmarva Peninsula by designating it by the federal government as a national reserve, very similar to the New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve with its 1.1 million acres. Hiss believes that by  re-identifying the region as such will lead to the kind of thoughtful planning seen with the Pinelands as it protects landscapes, manages growth and ecologically protects enageranged species from unnecessary extinction.

The Spy sat down with Tony in the White Swan Tavern’s living room to chat about what the Delmarva could really be in the future.

This video is approximately eight minutes in length

The Day of the Iguana by George Merrill

I’m sitting again on a beach on the east coast of Puerto Rico. Hurricane Maria struck with full force only five months ago just south of here.

The damage is apparent everywhere. The resort where we have stayed for years has less than a third of the native residents including its regular Yankee snowbirds. Many of the units have suffered significant destruction, some completely boarded up. Many palm trees were felled; others look shorn of their fronds, standing like tall skinny kids with brush cuts. The mountain sides, once hiding homes amidst luxuriant foliage, now reveal the small cement structures that their greenery once embraced.

People with means can get workers to rebuild. They pay in cash. People with little cannot find workers. Local contractors, although desperate for work, know that insurance claims drag on and that if they do a job dependent on insurance they stand a good chance of being stiffed. Many have no insurance. Puerto Rico is in turmoil both for the damage it sustained and the complex economic and infrastructure problems that have plagued the island for years. In a very real sense, Maria was the perfect storm when all the destructive elements converged in one event. The people are remarkably sanguine given the circumstances. They survive. They go on, many still without electricity. Like people familiar with deprivations, when you ask them how it’s going, they smile wanly, shrug, and extending empty hands palms up in resignation, say “you know.” I really don’t.

Where we stay has electricity most of the time. We have water, and access to markets. Even as the island and its inhabitants suffer the ravages of nature’s caprices, and years of political corruption with congressional complicity, the island continues to be exquisitely beautiful, and properly called, “The isle of enchantment.”

I feel uneasy being among people whose lives have been upended, while I’m living at a resort. I am insulated from the deprivations that the people endure daily. In the large markets, lots of locals are milling about shopping as we do at home at a Walmart or Sam’s. They are not dressed in the way I’m accustomed to seeing at home in malls and marketplaces. No one is dressed up. It’s the dress of perpetual summer and limited means.

This is not to say Puerto Ricans take no pride in appearance – there’s a dignity in the way people carry themselves – but there is no mistaking the poverty that limits the choice of luxuries or even amenities available to them. The money is just not there and when it is, it’s in short supply.

I am always surprised when in various encounters with local residents, that they seem easy and friendly. Why shouldn’t they, I guess is the question? I’m projecting my own anger, here. If I were a native Puerto Rican, and saw privileged Yankees where I was shopping and I had to squeeze every penny I had, I would feel resentful of the good fortunes these mainland vacationers enjoy. I would imagine their image of the mainland was not helped when Trump contemptuously threw Scott Towels to a large crowd of people, like tossing bones to dogs. Puerto Ricans were demonstrating for more stateside assistance, not paper towels. They needed power and water, basics. The people were frightened and felt vulnerable.

There’s an old spiritual charge given to those who would seek to love their neighbors: in the Buddhist tradition, we’re encouraged to look for the Buddha in every stranger we meet. In Christian lore, it’s to find the Christ in everyone.

In the town of Humacao, there is a big box supermarket. It reopened shortly after the storm. My wife, Jo and I went shopping there. The market was mobbed.

With a full cart, my wife and I looked for a checkout line. The lines, impossibly long, snaked all over the store. We eventually located the end of one and took our place.

A couple settled in behind us. I would not have noticed except the man and his wife stood so close that one step back and I’d be stepping on the man’s toe. Irritated, I tolerated the intrusion. Finally, when we arrived at checkout I began putting our goods on the conveyer belt. As I was doing this I figured that if I placed one of those metal bars down that separate one party’s purchases from another, he’d give me some space. This way I thought I could get some distance from the couple.

Then I had a good look at the couple. He was short, bald, disheveled. His sweatshirt was riven with holes. He hadn’t shaved recently. His wife was taller, but gaunt, with a tooth missing and gray hair that appeared wild and untended. I felt mild disdain, the kind you have when you’re feeling superior. I didn’t like the feeling I was having. I tried to disown it and then something happened. I was about to meet the Christ and the Buddha.

As I put down the metal bar on the belt, the man looked at me with the kindest smile and thanked me profusely. What I had intended as a distancing maneuver – basically a hostile act – he took as a gesture of kindness. He interpreted my actions as a way of helping him to facilitate his check out while I was going through mine. His wife quickly joined in with thanks and then asked us where we were from, how long we’d be there. She reached out to us with a good heart.

You might say that the couple not only broke the arrow of my snobbery, but detoxified the poison in its tip. It was through the grace of that couple, in that moment, that I was redeemed.

My first reaction was shame. I felt an irrational weepiness then relief as if a burden had been lifted from me and finally a surge of deep gratitude emerged. We went our way.

On a walk one day in Palmas del Mar, I passed under a Cieba tree. On one branch, I saw a large iguana, close to five-foot long. They are common here, harmless, like squirrels are to the states. If your unaccustomed to seeing one, they look scary and can frighten you. This one, comfortably hunkered down on a branch had these words that someone had written boldly on its side with a magic marker.

It read “Dios es amor.”

Columnist George Merrill is an Episcopal Church priest and pastoral psychotherapist. A writer and photographer, he’s authored two books on spirituality: Reflections: Psychological and Spiritual Images of the Heart and The Bay of the Mother of God: A Yankee Discovers the Chesapeake Bay. He is a native New Yorker, previously directing counseling services in Hartford, Connecticut, and in Baltimore. George’s essays, some award winning, have appeared in regional magazines and are broadcast twice monthly on Delmarva Public Radio.

Mid-Shore Arts: Cid Collins Walker

One of the safest things to say about Cid Collins Walker is the remarkable scope of work in her professional life fitting so well with her passion for the visual arts and film. From her early work at the Whitney Museum, then CBS, and eventually with her tenure at Voice of America, Cid has done a remarkable job infusing these two worlds with her ongoing life as a filmmaker, designer, and artist.

This passion for art continues as she and her husband, journalist Richard Walker, decided to relocate to Oxford a few years ago as she continues with her volunteer support of the Chesapeake Film Festival, teaching art and film classes in both Easton and Chestertown, while at the same time pursuing her new series of artwork from her studio behind the Oxford Volunteer Fire Department building.

The Spy caught up with Sid for a brief chat about her art and photography as she enters into a mature phase of her creativity.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information about Cid Collins Walker please go here

Food Friday: Homemade Ravioli

It is just as well that spring appears to be coming early, because we have started to mess with the new pasta machine. You must remember that we have baked pizza almost every Friday night for at least 25 years, and consistently roll out (and devour) parabola-shaped pizza pies. Precision is not our métier or our skill set. So what were we thinking when we unboxed two Christmas presents,the new ravioli maker, and an electric meat smoker on a rainy Sunday? We really need to get outside more, and fast.

I can credit Mr. Friday for this adventure. Give the man a decent gas range and suddenly he has a yen for cooking. I applaud that impulse, I just wish it did not include machines with sharp moving parts, and multi-step productions that require more than the four hands available. Luke, the 70-pound ankle bracelet was willing as always to help us in any way, but he was transparently hoping for falling gifts and could not advise us, let alone assist.

We have only tried making homemade pasta twice since Christmas. The first time resulted in some very tasty(though frankly, irregularly-shaped) fettucine noodles. The second time we leapt out of the frying pan into the roiling ravioli water. We do not have a lot of experience with pasta and neither of us had Italian grandmothers who patiently turned out dozens of perfect tortellini for admiring crowds. We did read Strega Nona aloud to our children a few dozen times, but no spaghetti magic did she impart. We grew up in households where Wednesday night was indeed Prince Spaghetti night: the pasta was store-bought and in a box, although the sauce was homemade. Neither of us has ever taken a pasta making class at Sur la Table. I did work in an Italian restaurant once. It specialized in Chicago-style pan pizza, which does not give me any street cred.

We follow recipes. But not always to the letter. And sometimes we make substitutions, or take shortcuts, or feel we have gut instincts worth following. We are often foolish. Which could explain our history of parabola pizzas, sunken brownies, and overdone smoked briskets…

Bon Appétit knows their stuff:

And who would argue with Martha?

Apparently we need to practice more, so it is a good thing we are heading into another weekend.

Back to Bon Appétit for the ravioli lesson.

For building the ravioli we followed the instructions on the back of the ravioli maker, which drew me back to my Play-Doh days; lots of squeezing and molding. We had some sticking issues, but I think it was the combination of wet weather, and the experiment with 00 flour. It was super fine and prone to making itself adhere to all the surfaces we were using: countertop, rolling pin, ravioli mold, and even the pizza cutter,

For the filling Mr. Friday experimented and improvised. So you might want to go back to Bon Appétit or Martha for something predictable and orthodox. But ours was pretty yummy. I am guessing at exact measurements, so you might have to go with your own gut feelings.

4 ounces bulk Italian sausage
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon fresh basil, finely chopped
1/8 teaspoon grated whole nutmeg

Mr. Friday frizzled up the sausage, over a medium heat, on the nifty new gas range, and then drained it on paper towels. Then he mixed the cooled meat with the beaten egg, cheese, basil and nutmeg. Then he filled the ravioli bottoms, and then applied the top sheet. He used a pizza cutter to cut the ravioli apart, and then refrigerated them until Monday night, because, multi-takers that we are, we still had to figure out if we had smoked the brisket for the proper amount of time. The new smoker was smoking away out in the back yard, where we had to occasionally run to protect it from the irregular rain showers. Lots of experimenting went on that day!

Monday night Mr. Friday waltzed in the door, poured two glasses of wine and started an easy peasy pasta sauce – and three cloves of garlic, lightly heated in olive oil until fragrant and then smothered with a 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes. I was assigned Parmesan cheese grating and topping up the wine glasses.

Mr. Friday popped the 12 ravioli into a boiling vat of water for about 4 minutes, and artfully plated them, and swhooshed a light lashing of aromatic sauce over the ravioli, dusted them with cheese and another sprig of fresh basil, and put them on the table. Where we fell on the plates like starving dogs, and gobbled the food all up. Deelish. Poor Luke. Gravity failed him this time. He did not appreciate the heel of bread, even though it was schmeared with the best Irish butter.

The next time you want to fill up a weekend, consider homemade ravioli. Personally, I am hoping it is going to be warmer this weekend, and we might have to occupy ourselves outside. Otherwise I might start thinking about perfecting my bread baking. My loaves have been likened to medicine balls and loads of bricks. Yummy!

“Life is a combination of magic and pasta.”
― Federico Fellini

Grants in Action: For All Seasons and Women & Girls Fund Comfort Victims of Sexual Assault

It seems like a simple enough project. Upon notification that there is a victim of sexual assault in one of the Mid-Shore’s hospitals, For All Seasons, Inc, the region’s outpatient mental health services agency, quickly provides a “comfort kit” to the victim with clothes, shoes and other personal items to replace those that will be used as state’s evidence against the offender.

And yet, this essential outreach program, which may take place up to 16 times a month throughout the For All Seasons service region, has been one of the more difficult initiatives for staff to fundraise for given the nature of the work and its relatively modest budget demands.

That is when the Women & Girls Fund stepped in.

As WGF board member Judi Loscomb noted in her interview with the Spy a few weeks ago, the philanthropic foundation’s ability to pool resources to address these unique community needs is just one of the reasons the Women & Girls Fund has been so successful with its mission and serving the region.

The Spy also talked to For All Seasons executive director, Beth Anne Langrell and the organization’s new director of development, Monika Mraz, to understand more fully how critical the “comfort kit” program is for victims, their families, and for the Mid-Shore in general.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about For All  Seasons please go here.

 This is the fifth in a series of stories focused on the work of the Women & Girls Fund of the Mid-Shore. Since 2002, the Fund has channeled its pooled resources to organizations that serve the needs and quality of life for women and girls in Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot Counties. The Spy, in partnership with the Women & Girls Fund, are working collaboratively to put the spotlight on twelve of these remarkable agencies to promote their success and inspire other women and men to support the Fund’s critical role in the future.

The 1st District: Introducing Candidate Allison Galbraith

Allison Galbraith has a straightforward answer when asked why she is running for the United States Congress from the 1st Congressional — it’s personal.

Not too long ago, Allison made arrangements to meet with Representative Andy Harris to discuss her own experience with, and advocacy for, the Affordable Care Act. She found herself rebuffed by the Congressman not only on policy but was stung by his comment during their exchange that he would have no problem with women paying more for health insurance than men.

That’s all it took forGalbraith to plunge yourself into the 1st district Democratic primary. And she has launched a campaign that addresses not only her grievances against Dr. Harris and his desire to repeal Obamacare but offers her unique perspective as a single mother struggling with keeping afloat while also having served as a caregiver for her mother.

The University of Maryland graduate, with a degree in philosophy, has spent most of her career working on federal government contracts which she believes will give her a unique advantage on how to save money in Washington. She also feels it could be one of the more striking differentials between her and her Democratic opponents as the candidates face the primary day election in June.

The Spy met up with Allison at the Bullitt House last Saturday for a quick introductory chat.

This video is approximately six minutes in length. For more information about Allison Galbraith’s campaign please go here

The Art of Becoming One: Qlarant’s Ron Forsythe on Corporate Consolidation

Unbeknownst to many on the Mid-Shore, there will be a remarkable corporate transition taking place this week. Within a rather undistinguished office building located next to Target and Harris Teeter on Marlboro Street, a consolidation of three major businesses into one will officially commence with the potential to fundamentally change the Eastern Shore’s corporate profile for years to come.

We are talking about Quality Health Strategies, with its national reputation for its Health Integrity wing for reducing medical fraud, merging with its siblings, the Delmarva Foundation, with leadership and consulting services to make healthcare effective and safe, and their philanthropic arm, the Quality Healthcare Foundation, a significant contributor to Eastern Shore health needs, into one national corporation named Qlarant with over 400 employees.

The art of merging three highly successful organizations into one is a difficult task for any leader, but, as we learn from our recent Spy interview with Ron Forsythe, the former CEO of QHS, and now CEO of Qlarant, the opportunity from this kind of merger far outweighed the disadvantages as Ron and his board came to realize that their collective tools for health management and accountability could be applied to a host of other fields, from higher education to banking.

Born on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, raised in Salisbury, armed with a doctorate in chemical engineering, and a history of success at UMES before joining QHS four years ago, Ron seemed like the ideal person to oversee this delicate project and sparked our interest in interviewing him about this major milestone.

This video is approximately five minutes in length. For more information about the new Qlarant please go here 


Einstein and a Hole in the Ground by George Merrill

I am sitting on a beach in Puerto Rico. Watching the waves break, my thoughts rise and fall. They can’t seem to be still. I’ve been reading about Einstein’s beliefs concerning religion and spirituality. He doesn’t believe in a personal God. He feels awe and a profound reverence for the mystery of nature and the workings of the universe. He calls this his religious feeling.

I look up briefly from my Kindle. I see a ghost crab digging a hole in the sand nearby.

The hole is perhaps twice the size of a silver dollar. His eyes appear as black dots affixed to the end of two stalks that extend prominently from his head. He emerges half-way out of the hole and then stops.  He’s eyeing me to see what I will do. I wave my kindle to test him. He shoots down the hole in a flash and is gone. A minute or so later he reemerges. I remain still so as, in a manner of speaking, not to spook the ghost crab. He is not but three feet away from where I sit. I am suddenly at a ringside seat, enthralled, watching first-hand what a ghost crab does during the day.

Unlike the Chesapeake’s bluecrab that scampers sideways on a flat surface, the ghost crab stands up on all 10 legs or if speed is required, just two.  He can move laterally at amazing speeds. He’ll turn on a dime while capable of doing 10mph.

I watch. He emerges from the hole again, assumes this same posture – half in, half out – but this time he makes a lightening quick gesture with the claw that had remained half buried in the hole. In a flash and in one swipe, he tosses out deposits of sand with it. The excavated sand looks round and as it land, like small marbles several inches from the hole. He remains still for a moment – not a twitch – as if perhaps to see what my reaction will be. I am amazed not only by the speed with which he tosses the sand up and out, but by the distance he throws it. The sand pile is tidy. This crab is no rooky. He knows how to throw a fastball and aim it just where he wants it to go

The sun shines on him from behind. He looks delicate, almost diaphanous, and as the sunlight shines through him he appears translucent while glowing a faint yellow. He appears otherworldly, as though he was molded of gelatin. Perhaps his transparency is one reason why he is called a ghost crab. The other is that ghost crabs are typically nocturnal.  I enjoy the good fortune to catch his performance in a rare matinee appearance.

He has captured my complete attention. I sit stone still. I don’t want to miss a thing.

Every forty seconds or so, he goes through this same drill: disappear down the hole, emerge, pitch out the sand he’s accumulated, position himself half in and out and then dart again down into the hole. No doubt about it; he is digging a tunnel efficiently and skillfully, the envy of any convict who ever dreamed of a subterranean escape from his confines.

I find that watching other creatures up close is a kind of otherworldly experience for me, like entering an alternative universe. The exotic ways of other critters, in this case the ghost crab, although he addresses the same needs to live as I must, he goes at it in a way I can only describe as mysterious.

I understand he prefers his big meal at night and goes out to eat most of the time. There no candlelight here. He can see in the dark with eyes that are situated above him that see 360 degrees. He gets the big picture in a flash. It would take me longer.

I know this may sound sexist but the females, when digging their tunnels do not perform their tasks in a workman-like fashion. They’re really messy. The male, as he digs his burrow, leaves the excavated sand in a neat pile on one side of the entrance. The female on the other hand doesn’t care a whit about being tidy and flings sand out in all directions like toddlers playing in a sand box.

However, the maneuvers grow more complex.

It’s not just that the male is more disciplined in his work habits, but his actions are informed by a darker purpose.  He is in fact sending a message to two parties. To would be intruders, his tidy little sandy mound tells them to buzz off. It also informs females that they are welcome to drop in at any time.

I note that the issues of personal privacy and availability to females are of the highest priority to the male ghost crab’s life style. The same selective frame of mind dominates the subject of conversation among crabs just as it governs their work habits in tunneling.

Ghost crabs do communicate by sound but are not great on small talk. They never gather to gossip or just shoot the breeze, like geese. They’re painfully single focused, always agenda driven.

On its right claw the ghost crab has what’s called a Stridulating organ. When the ghost crab strokes this against the bottom of its leg, it emits a squeaking sound.  I’m assuming it’s like the violin, able to produce a variety of notes. The repertoire, however, is severely limited.

Even in the aural communication the male ghost crab has the same agenda that’s reflected in his digging habits; leave me alone; females, excepted.

The ghost crab may be a loner but I suspect he’s also a swinger.

I had been watching him dig and tunnel in and out for about twenty minutes. Then he changed the venue and emerged coming all the way out. He stood still just inches from the entrance. I knew he’s was checking out the landscape. I assume he felt safe to wander from home. Then I saw him take off for a short distance down the beach. To think of a crab as graceful or to describe his short excursion as if it were executed with the sylph-like motions of the ballerina, you might think I’m exaggerating. I am not.

He skittered across uneven sand for a short distance with a fluid- like movement as if none of his appendages ever touched the ground. He stopped and stood still and I could see the little black dots of his eyes, unmoving, but taking everything in. He made a kind of pirouette and took off for a short distance at a forty- five- degree angle from his first direction.  He stopped abruptly maybe ten feet from me.

I felt that by having patiently held still and respecting his space I had earned his trust. He felt safe with me. I was enjoying a communion with this creature from a world so close to and yet so far from my own. I felt part of his world as though he were sharing it with me.

Above me four pelicans fly overhead.  They cast shadows between where the ghost crab stands and where I sit. In a sprint, so fast I can barely follow him, he makes for the entrance to his tunnel, darts in and is gone.

I don’t see him reappear.

I go back reading about Einstein. I think I’m getting his point.

Columnist George Merrill is an Episcopal Church priest and pastoral psychotherapist.  A writer and photographer, he’s authored two books on spirituality: Reflections: Psychological and Spiritual Images of the Heart and The Bay of the Mother of God: A Yankee Discovers the Chesapeake Bay. He is a native New Yorker, previously directing counseling services in Hartford, Connecticut, and in Baltimore. George’s essays, some award winning, have appeared in regional magazines and are broadcast twice monthly on Delmarva Public Radio.


Food Friday: Winter Root Vegetables

It has been a very odd winter. When I first planned this column I had imagined that we would still be digging cars out from snow drifts and warming our hands on big frothing mugs of tasty hot chocolate. Instead, we have taken off the wool sweaters, stashed the turtle necks, and opened up the windows to some delightful spring-like weather. And now I have to spend the weekend washing windows, because the short bit of winter we did have has covered them with a lot of schmutz and dust.

Part of my vision for this week was going to be a lively little rummage through our vegetable bins, pulling out all the winter-y root vegetables I could find for some quick and easy roasted vegetable dishes, or some lively stir fries. Instead, I think we need to pursue the more topical discussion: Gins and Tonic vs. Vodkas and Tonic. Who needs a hot toddy during this last week of February? Bring out the tall glasses, the limes, and lots of ice from the freezer, and let’s meet on the back porch for sunset cocktails!

Still, there is the pesky matter of dinner. We can’t let those cocktails go to our heads. We can still have crunchy salads, roasted veggies and a stir fry feast.

I love the way Bon Appétit has complete confidence in our mandoline slicing skills. And I just love these croutons – much healthier than my usual recipe which calls for frying the bread in bacon fat. This is just a beautiful salad, especially with the addition of jewel-like pomegranate seeds.

Crunchy Winter-Vegetable Salad

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
½ garlic clove, finely grated
4 cups ½–¾-inch pieces country-style bread
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
Dressing and Assembly
½ cup olive oil
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ garlic clove, grated
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh tarragon, plus more for serving
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1 head of Treviso or Chioggia radicchio, leaves coarsely torn
1 large head fennel, very thinly sliced
2 medium golden or red beets, very thinly sliced
8 small white turnips, trimmed, very thinly sliced
8 cups torn lettuce leaves (such as red oak or Little Gem)
½ cup pomegranate seeds

•Preheat oven to 350°. Mix oil, butter, thyme, and garlic in a small bowl. Scatter bread on a large rimmed baking sheet and drizzle oil mixture over. Toss, squeezing oil mixture into bread; season with salt and pepper.
•Bake, tossing occasionally, until croutons are golden brown and crisp, 20–22 minutes. Let cool.
•Do Ahead: Croutons can be made up to 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.
Dressing and Assembly
•Shake oil, vinegar, mustard, and garlic in a jar to combine. Add 2 tsp. tarragon; season dressing with salt and pepper.
•Toss radicchio, fennel, beets, turnips, and lettuce in a large bowl to combine. Drizzle dressing over and toss to coat; season with salt and pepper.
•Toss in croutons and pomegranate seeds and serve topped with more tarragon.

For a heartier appetite – especially for those who have been compelled to do spring cleaning a month ahead of time – this is a substantial, hearty meal of roasted chunks o’root vegetables:

And if you want to add some sizzle to your meal, our household god, Mark Bittman, has a tempting recipe for stir fry root vegetables: Be careful with the box grater, though. I have a few raw knuckles from being too enthused about this dish.

It looks like the next week is going to continue to be warm during the day, and cooler at night. I hope I am not being premature in starting some of our seeds. In addition to washing windows this weekend we are finally going to built a raised garden bed. I started some seeds yesterday in peat containers: coleus, nasturtium, basil, lettuce and some pole beans. In a few months I will be looking for a lot of basil recipes – I found four seed packets for basil in my little stash…

Don’t forget to wear your sunscreen!

“Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”
–Albert Einstein

Profiles of Our Community’s YMCA: Shania Gregory

Over the course of the next twelve months, the Spy will be presenting several profiles of individuals who make up the YMCA family on the Mid-Shore. Almost since the Spy started in 2009, we have been exceptionally impressed by the unique success story of the YMCA of the Chesapeake and its leadership, programming, and sense of civic responsibility. From chess classes near Chincoteague to rumba instruction in Cambridge, diabetes prevention in Denton, yoga in Centreville, swimming in Elkton, senior fitness in St. Michaels or even pickleball in Easton, the Y stands alone in the scope and scale of their work.

We decided to start our series with one of the more moving examples of how this regional resource has changed lives with the story of Shania Gregory. Growing up in Easton with her three brothers and a single mom with multiple jobs, Shania’s family had limited recreational options until her mother, determined to give her children a safe place to play, reached out the YMCA and found an organization eager to help make that happen regardless of costs.

So it was particularly exciting to note Shania returned to her beloved YMCA as part of the staff and more recently she was named as the Y’s membership director whose primary responsibility is to encourage families, like her own years ago, to become involved and stay active.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about the YMCA of the Chesapeake please go here


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