In  the Garden by Nancy Mugele


I don’t have the patience for formal gardening. Don’t tell my friend, Baltimore writer Kathy Hudson, who, among other things, writes a regular feature about beautiful gardens for Style magazine. Kathy and her friend, Penney Hubbard, who In 1969 began to create a garden at her home north of Baltimore which became recognized as one of the finest in Maryland, penned a gorgeous book about the Hubbard garden. I highly recommend On Walnut Hill for transporting us into the garden, through stunning photography and text detailing its beauty in each of the four seasons.

I recently read a post by one of the editors of Well-Schooled, a site for educator storytelling, which I am honored to write for. In her reflection “In the Garden,” Ari Pinkus states: I imagine education as a diverse garden culture where we are the stewards.  This metaphor fits Webster’s definition of a garden as a “rich well-cultivated region,” and its definition of culture as “the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations.

I love the imagery of education as a garden, planting seeds of learning in our students which we cultivate over time. Teachers, responsible for the care and feeding of their seedlings, transmit knowledge to generations of learners who blossom in vivid color before our eyes.

My Kent School colleague Tricia Cammerzell, is an accomplished poet who writes when she says she has “a quiet mind.” I recently read her poem “In the Garden,” inspired by her own garden and the memories she has of her father working in his garden – transferring his knowledge to her. Gardening and muscle memory combined in a poignant tribute.

These three in the garden reflections have been on my mind for the past two weeks, especially as Kent School’s unparalleled environment for learning is blooming with spring color seemingly overnight. I stopped into The Mill at Kingstown this week to add herbs and flowering plants to my porch. Mother’s Day weekend always signals to me the start of hanging basket and flowering pot season – that is another story, but I am now finally gardening. Well, that is if you can call watering porch plants, gardening.

In addition to the order of potted plants and herbs on my porch, I prefer an impressionist landscape, complete with the messy mix of untamed native plants and grasses growing wildly in unexpected places outside of the porch. I love wildflowers constantly in bloom, untimed, unordered and unburdened by boundaries. This less formal nature culture is also a metaphor for education which values creativity, perseverance, resilience, and grit.

Whether a formal garden or potted plants on the porch are your ideal, this quote from Sitting Bull sums it all up so eloquently.

Behold, my friends, the spring is come;

the earth has gladly received the embraces of the sun,

and we shall soon see the results of their love!

Wishing you love in the garden this spring.

Nancy Mugele is the Head of School at Kent School in Chestertown, a member of the Board of the Association of Independent Maryland and DC Schools, a member of the Board of Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne’s, a member of the Board of Chesapeake Charities, and a member of the Education Committee of Sultana Education Foundation.

Letter to Editor: Jay Jacobs Got it Right with “War on the Shore” Report Description


Del. Jay Jacobs did set the record straight with regard to his War on Shore report description. He couldn’t have said it better. Some background is necessary. The Oyster Futures Workgroup was assembled from diverse cultural stakeholders. To which Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) was a participant. The OFG reviewed scientific models and made policy recommendations to the MDDNR with regard to the Choptank River complex. MDDNR accepted those recommendations.

This past legislature session saw CBF sponsoring a bill HB-298 that cut the knees off this groups time consuming hard work and rendered their time-consuming hard work useless. As a member of the Oyster Advisory Commission (OAC) CBF sponsored legislation each of the last 3 years that went behind the back of this culturally diverse group. Simply put, CBF felt it can act on its own, because it does not have control this multi stakeholder group created to advise on complex oyster issues.

The oyster mega-sanctuary network was sold to the seafood industry as a cure all. These sanctuaries would act as breeder reactors, naturally producing vast number of larvae that would spill over repopulate the oyster bars throughout the bay. Ten years later we have not seen any hard-scientific evidence of a signal or trigger that this phenomenon ever took place.

If CBF really wants to support Maryland’s oyster harvesting heritage then they should stop engaging in activities that promote the singling out of a culture and class of people for perpetual persecution.

Jim Mullin
Maryland Oystermen’s Association

Letter to Editor: Harris’ Vote Weakens Pre-Existing Condition Protection


1st District Representative, Andy Harris, voted against H.R. 986, a bill which would have repealed an executive action by President Trump that weakened health insurance requirements designed to protect patients with pre-existing conditions.

Harris has been consistent in his desire to strip pre-existing conditions protection from health insurance policies, a position which can be catastrophic for those citizens with pre-existing health conditions. Harris’ solution, as he has repeatedly voiced in the past, is to place all patients with pre-existing conditions into a high risk pool of insured, thereby allowing them to be charged higher premiums. T

his position fails to understand that insurance works best when the insured pool is large and diverse and all share in the risks of being ill. What senior citizen does NOT or WILL NOT have a pre-existing condition? One republican friend, nearing retirement, told me “Just try hang on until you reach 65 and then Medicare will kick in” That my friends is not a sound health care policy.

Let’s face it, the only group that Harris’ plan protects is the insurance industry.

Harris voted with his republican minority in the House by voting NAY. Fortunately, the bill passed with 230 (228 democrats and 2 republicans) voting YEA and 183 (all republican) voting NAY, mostly along party lines. A Nay vote was a vote to further weaken health insurance coverage for those with pre-existing conditions.

What is House Bill H.R. 986?

This bill would repeal an October 2018 guidance issued by the Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) related to “State Relief and Empowerment Waivers” under the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). The guidance loosened restrictions of Section 1332 state innovation waivers, which became available to states in January 2017 under the ACA, by expanding the definition of coverage to include short-term plans and allowing existing state legislation about enforcing Obamacare satisfied the waiver requirement.”

For more information on this Bill go here

Chris Koch
Talbot County 

In Memoriam: Conor McDowell (1995-2019)


The Chestertown Spy is profoundly saddened to report that Hugh Conor McDowell, the son of Michael, was killed in a training exercise in California on Friday.

A tribute from Conor’s father, Michael H C McDowell, is reposted here:

Hugh Conor McDowell (March 11, 1995-May 9, 2019. 1st. Lieutenant United States Marine Corps, Light Armored Reconnaissance, Camp Pendleton, California.

Our beloved and only child was killed yesterday in a bizarre accident on maneuvers, leading his new platoon. The light armored tank which contains 6 enlisted Marines and one officer, toppled over, and Conor was crushed underneath. He died en route to hospital.

Conor was due to announce his engagement and marriage to the love of his life, Kathleen Bourque, a beautiful, tall, slender, accomplished psychology graduate headed for a Ph D. They were deeply in love after a whirlwind romance which began in North Carolina in July of last year, and settled in an apartment near the ocean outside San Diego, with their dog Ruthie and cats Missy and Max.

Susan, my wife and I, loved Kathleen, having hosted her during Thanksgiving and over Christmas. She is a wonderful warm steady person and adored our son, equally.Conor was a warrior, like my father in the Royal Ulster Rifles in the Western Desert, Sicily and Italy in World War Two. Sadly, they never met but Conor felt as if he knew him.

Conor, since he was a small boy, wanted to be a soldier, and later, a Marine. He excelled. He read broadly and was intellectually curious, and was physically outstanding — slim, fit, six feet plus, and sunny and passionate in personality. He was above all a LEADER and majored in history, minoring in French, at The Citadel, the historic military college in Charleston, South Carolina. Junior cadets, while I served on the college Advisory Board would come up to me and tell me how much Conor had helped them and encouraged them, while holding them to a high standard. He helped and looked out for young women, minorities, etc. There was not a bigoted bone in his body. Conor graduated from The Citadel in May 2017 and was Provost Marshal of 1st Battalion and in Al[ha Company.

He grew up on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, until he was 3 and then we moved to Chevy Chase, on the DC side, where he went to Lafayette Elementary, and later Deal Junior High, both public schools. He chose St. John’s College High School, near us, the historic Catholic French Christian Brothers school, which had a crack Army ROTC unit. Conor in his senior year became Command Sergeant Major of the unit. He chose The Citadel because it graduated a huge number of Marine officers and had a rigorous physical and academic regime.

There is a massive hole in our hearts and there will be for the rest of our lives. He was our only beloved child, in whom we were well pleased. We hope to meet again with our son in some way at some time as we pass on, as he has, at so young an age, and with so much of life ahead of him.

Echo Hill Outdoor School’s Summer EXPLORE Programs Turn 40


This summer marks the 40th anniversary of Echo Hill Outdoor School’s summer EXPLORE programs. Since 1979, over 34,000 children have experienced the magic of the Chester River through EHOS’ immersive on-the-water canoe, skipjack and buyboat trips, as well as land-based programming.

40 years ago, EXPLORE started as an extension of EHOS’ existing school programming—a way to continue involving children in freeform nature experiences year-round. The first summer offered participants a chance to canoe and camp on the Chester River, and by 1983, the program was successful enough to expand to on-board camping experiences with two classic Bay workboats, the Annie D and the Bernice J. By 1988, the skipjack Elsworth replaced the aging Bernice J,  and since then, the EXPLORE programs have operated with the same recipe every summer—take a group of children, add the Chester River and a fleet of workboats or canoes, mix in a healthy dose of swimming, fishing, and exploring, and you’ve got an unforgettable summer experience.

Captain Andrew McCown, Associate Director of Echo Hill Outdoor School, has been working the summer EXPLORE programs since he started the program in 1979, and is a strong believer in the power of a ‘Huck Finn’ learning experience.

“After 40 years, my takeaway is that we’re fortunate to have a river that looks the way it does, that in the middle of the week with a group of kids it can feel the way it did 100 years ago,” says McCown. “On EXPLORE programs, we learn about the stars by sleeping under them, learn about fish by catching and preparing them, eat crabs when we’re hungry and sail when the wind is right. Every EXPLORE student really gets to experience the Land of Pleasant Living.”

This summer’s 40th EXPLORE session still has availability for interested participants. Children can enjoy a three-day camping trip, four- and five-day canoe trips, or five-day skipjack and buyboat trips. Parents or guardians can find out more by visiting or by calling 410-348-5880.

Echo Hill Outdoor School was established in 1972 in Kent County, Maryland. Today, more than 6,700 students and teachers from public and private schools annually visit EHOS School in our residential outdoor education programs, adventure programs, camps and day programs from March through mid-December. For more information, go to or call 410-348-5880.


Letter to Editor: Harris Votes Correctly to Potentially Lower Future Generic Drug Prices


Voting with the majority, 1st District representative, Andy Harris, voted twice with the entire House of Representatives to advance House Bill H.R. 1520 and H.R 1503. The first Bill passed the House with 420 Yeas and 0 Nays. The second Bill passed with 422 Yeas and 0 Nays.

What is House Bill H.R. 1520?

This bill — the Purple Book Continuity Act of 2019 — would require that the FDA proactively determine the reference product exclusivity for each licensed biological product (or biosimilar) listed in the Purple Book. It also would direct the FDA to solicit public comments regarding the type of information that should be contained in the Purple Book and transmit a report to the Congress within three years after the date of enactment.

This bill would also impose a private-sector mandate requiring biological product manufacturers to provide the FDA with certain patent information when that information is shared with biosimilar product manufacturers.

Finally, this bill would specify that the Purple Book should be published to the FDA’s website and updated regularly.

For more information on this click here.

What is House Bill H.R. 1503?

This bill — the Orange Book Transparency Act of 2019 —  would increase access to lower-cost generic drugs and bolster competition within the generic drug marketplace to help reduce drug costs by ensuring that patents listed in the Approved Drug Products with Therapeutic Equivalence Evaluations Publication (aka the Orange Book) are valid and relevant to the approved product. It’d also strengthen requirements surrounding the removal of invalidated patents from the Orange Book.

Specifically, this bill would:

  • Clarify the types of patents listed in the Orange Book (and require the removal of invalidated patents);
  • Require a list of applicable exclusivities for listed drugs;

  • Create a private-sector mandate requiring drug manufacturers to promptly submit a patent withdrawal or removal to the FDA for patents found invalid by the Patent Trial and Appeals Board or another court; and

  • Empower the FDA to: 1) add additional patents to the Orange Book if necessary, 2) promptly remove patents from the Orange Book which are found to be invalid, and 3) reconsider the types of patents listed in the Orange Book within one year of enactment.

For more information click here.

Christopher A. Koch

Letter to Editor: Trust the Chesapeake Bay Foundation? Not!


Trust the Chesapeake Bay Foundation? Not!

I received an email from CBF inviting me to comment on what is now the “Busch Legacy Oyster Bill”. Remember it is the bill THAT Governor Hogan tried to veto while asking for a less political and more inclusive alternative.

While the space provided was to be hopefully used to favor the bill, it did not prohibit an anti-bill comment. I looked at the opportunity to comment about the hysterical tactics and falsehoods used by the foundation to push their bill through the legislature.  

So, I used the opportunity to inform the foundation of mine and the industry’s anti-bill stance. I submitted it and went on my way in the belief that once my comment was read at the foundation it would obviously not be used in the pro-bill letter the foundation would send out to all legislators.

Fool that I am. Not only did the foundation not bother to read my comments but lifted my name and placed it on the list of those supporting the bill.

My delegate’s office sent me an email concerned that my name appeared in support. Shocked and insulted I immediately informed the delegate of my actions and my dismay at the possible fraud in using my name to further the CBF cause. I asked my delegate to ask for my comments from the CBF. The foundation has not complied. This begs the question. If they did this to me then, just how many other people has CBF done this too?

If you are among the supporters who pay their dues and walk away thinking the foundation can be trusted in all actions to do the right thing, think again. Your “activism” is merely that of a slacktivist.  Educate yourselves with information from as many sources you can find. Beware the comfort zone of shared opinions provided by “well” meaning foundations and associations.

Marc Castelli
Kent County


Carolyn Fuss Thompson joins Heck & Company


Carolyn Fuss Thompson, an experienced non-profit professional, has been named an associate with Heck & Company, the fundraising consulting firm announced this week.

Fuss Thompson specializes in volunteer management, communications, marketing, program development and event planning and has worked with the Humane Society of Kent County, Washington College, and the American Red Cross of Central Maryland. She also performed two years of national service with Volunteer Maryland!, an AmeriCorps program, and served as a volunteer management consultant for YouthBuild U.S.A.

A graduate of Washington College, Carolyn holds a Masters degree in Nonprofit Management from Notre Dame University in Baltimore, where she earned the top Academic Achievement Award in 2006.  A recipient of the Governor’s Citation in 1999 and 2000 for her accomplishments in AmeriCorps, she also was honored with the George M. Elsey Award for youth programs she developed at the American Red Cross.

“Carolyn is an enormous asset and we are very fortunate to have recruited her,” Principal Barbara Heck said. “We are delighted to be able to offer her many talents to our clients.”

Heck & Company provides on-site fundraising expertise to non-profits on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and beyond. The firm helps organizations with campaign planning and implementation, major gift strategy, annual giving, stewardship, prospect research and management, grant writing, corporate and foundation relations, marketing and graphic design, special events, and social media. For more information contact: Barbara Heck at Heck & Company or visit their website.

A Sunny Rest in Peace by Chris Landskroener


Unqualified love. Given by humans rarely. Given to us by the most discerning whether or not we actually deserve it. I am the recipient of such a love from so many sources, and I lost one of them today.

We had to put Sunny to sleep, put her down, end her life today. She had become creaky, but never cranky, slow apace and yet after 13 years of a dog’s life still looking at the world with the eyes of a puppy.  

She was a rescue dog; we rescued her from the shelter and she in turn rescued us, especially me, from a life growing increasingly hermetic. She filled a hole in my heart I didn’t know was there until she leapt into the back of the car the day we picked her up. She was nervous, I was nervous.  Marcia and I immediately took her to one of those pet stores where every whim of dogdom can be satisfied, and yet it was her newly adopted parents who were loading up on toys, on joy, on hope.

She taught me that the first order of business in her life was hope.  Hope we can go out and play ball. Hope that dinner might be delicious.  Hope for a walk in the woods where the smells were so exciting she didn’t want to leave them and would change her direction with every shift in the breeze.  

A Chesapeake Bay retriever, her honker was so gargantuan that it surely could tell what was in and around the leaves, could let her know that when I brought Chinese food home for lunch she’d always get the fried rice I couldn’t finish.  I’m told that when we smell a pizza, dogs can tell as soon as you opened the box how much of each ingredient is in play, oregano, anchovies, onions! Alas, she rarely got to sample the leftover pie, such was the avarice of her owner. She seemed to learn that pizza was going to smell good, but it would be slim pickings for her.  This was in contrast to the treat she would get when I would bring home the lunch special from China House, when she would know that in a few minutes she would be licking the remaining fried rice with sauce from the bowl until it squeaked.

A little background on the Chesapeake from the American Kennel Club:  “Chessies are strong, powerfully built gundogs standing anywhere from 21 to 26 inches at the shoulder. A male can weigh up to 80 pounds. The distinctive breed trait is a wavy coat that is oily to the touch. Chessies are solid-colored, either chocolatey brown, sedge, or deadgrass, with keen yellow-amber eyes that nicely complement the coat.  Chessies are more emotionally complex than the usual gundog. Chessies take to training, but they have a mind of their own and can tenaciously pursue their own path. They are protective of their humans and polite, but not overtly friendly, to strangers.”

Sunny was colored “deadgrass” and apparently was a bit large for a girl, tipping the scales at 80+ pounds.  One of the things I appreciated most was that she was tall enough to get a head-scratch simply standing next to you.

And was she ever a retriever.  I’m not even sure she was ever trained as waterdog but her instincts were intact.  Back when we both had a little more spring in our muscles, I would launch the Chuckit ball over the roof of the house and she would take off after it with an infectious glee.  She was big enough and fast enough that when she ran she sounded like a horse in full gallop. She’d return the ball and stop. It took me a few sessions to learn that unless I had a second ball at the ready, she was not giving up her first prize.  But, flash the next one at her and she’d drop the first and hedge a few steps back toward the house, ready to spring.

We stopped being able to play ball about a year ago.  She’d still chase it but only after a few halting stutter steps, and there was no more gallop to be heard.  In the last month, I’d roll the ball and she would amble after it, stand over it, glance at me, and beckon me to pick it up myself.

I think back to the day we picked her up.  We drove down to Queenstown, to the shelter, after being pre-approved to adopt her.  She had quickly become both the staff’s favorite and greatest concern since she couldn’t fathom being in the kennel after having spent seven years in a home with her original owners.

When we were introduced I asked if I could take her for a stroll—Marcia was left with the paperwork as I hooked up the leash we’d brought and left by the back door.  She got outside and I stopped to watch her raise her nose and take in the world outside. She seemed to glance and smile at me whereupon I started around the side of the building hell-bent on getting her to jump in the back of the SUV.  As we passed the side door Marcia came out and asked me if I thought we wanted to keep her. I just nodded at the car and she smiled and admitted that she’d already paid for the adoption.

As we were crossing the front lawn a family of four—mom, dad, two sprites around five or six—were walking in to the shelter and dad saw us heading out.  I noticed his shoulders slump, and face tilted down. They had come for her as well.

I wish they could possibly have known what she could give a good family; especially what a couple of kids with nothing but hope in their hearts could learn from Sunny, but I’m selfish by nature and wouldn’t change a thing about that day.  And I must say I have a little bit of envy that they won’t feel the hollow I have at the moment.

But they have no idea of the new life I was given, the purpose, the care I felt, the love I received.  Sleep well, sweet girl.

Chris Landskroener and his wife, Marcia, lives outside of Chestertown


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