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MINNIE’S ISLAND ORGANIZATION MAKING HEADWAY ON MISSION
October 14, 2021
In March, Pascall Pittman and other founders of Minnie’s Island Community Conservancy (MICC) met with CJ residents to share a vision of an organization “dedicated to the preservation of the ecological, architectural, scientific and humanist legacy of Minnie’s Island.” Located in the Potomac River about 100 yards off-shore from Lockhouse 8 on the C&O Canal, Minnie’s Island is roughly eight acres of wild habitat with a dilapidated wooden lodge and large deck at one end. Thanks to the outpouring of support from the community and beyond, MICC has made great strides in the intervening seven months. Come to the Oct. 27 CJCA Zoom meeting for a comprehensive update on this exciting project. When MICC first started, all of the trails on Minnie’s were completely overgrown and totally concealed. The cabin was replete with debris left by previous occupants, including numerous vagrants. Now, the trails have been significantly cleared and the cabin has been pretty well cleaned of debris and secured. Two structured volunteer days are scheduled for October to continue clearing invasive species and to deliver a 350 lb. wood-burning stove to the cabin. Other progress includes: MICC has now been designated by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. The Potomac Conservancy has indicated that with this designation, they should be able to convey Minnie’s Island to the MICC by the end of October. The Natural Resources Committee, under the leadership of Hanna Moerland and technical guidance of Eric Dinerstein, is implementing an Invasive Species Eradication Program. This is a big effort and can really use volunteer assistance. SSL hours are available. Our Physical Facilities Committee, led by Neil Shaut, along with many volunteers, located the water well, cleaned the cabin, and delivered a propane BBQ grill to the island. The nationally recognized structural engineering firm, Robert Sillman Associates, with an expertise in historic preservation, is providing guidance on structural upgrades for the cabin. MICC is creating an Arts & Design Committee to ensure that everything we do, while respecting conservation and natural resource considerations, is of the highest aesthetic standards, providing for an enriching environment for our target users: veterans, frontline workers, first responders, and students from local schools. Conversations with the National Park Service continue regarding the use of Lockhouse No. 8. By Susan Shipp, CJCA President Juliet Rodman, MICC Development Committee Chair...
CJCA Moves to Respond to State’s Latest Study on Beltway Expansion
October 14, 2021
A supplemental study of the environmental impacts to the state’s Beltway expansion plan, released Oct. 1, paints a decidedly mixed picture of the traffic impacts on the 12-mile stretch of highway included in the project as well as with the River Road interchange and other local roads. It also details adverse impacts to treasured parkland abutting Cabin John. For example, the study calls for a temporary access road off the Clara Barton Parkway that would parallel the C&O Canal “for construction vehicles and materials to build the new American Legion Bridge” as well as for changes to access ramps. It also talks about impacts to Cabin John Valley Stream Park “to accommodate widening of I-495, replacement of the bridges across Seven Locks Road and Cabin John Parkway” and new interchange modifications at River Rd. While the study purports to have modified the initial plans to avoid impacts to Morningstar Moses Hall and Cemetery, there are still major issues with regard to the property as well as the historic Gibson Grove Church property. What all this means for Cabin John, especially with regard to traffic, is something we have to decipher and comment on prior to the Nov. 15th public comment deadline on the study, which is formally called the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS). To aid the Cabin John Citizens Association in its advocacy efforts, the community voted at the Sept. 29 CJCA meeting to approve up to $3,000 to, once again, engage the engineering consulting firm VHBMetroDC to review the SDEIS and provide technical points on traffic and other negative impacts. The goal is to have VHB provide its analysis by the end of October to give the CJCA time to share it with the community along with guidance on how to submit comments. By Susan Shipp, CJCA President ...
2021 Chicken and Crab Feast Brings Community Back Together
October 14, 2021
The challenges of Covid prompted some changes to this year’s Chicken and Crab Feast. But that didn’t stop hundreds of Cabin John residents and friends from coming out Sept. 18 to enjoy each other’s company, the delicious food, and the beautiful music of the Starlight Orchestra. It was the 10th year the crowd was serenaded by these talented musicians, who generously play only for their supper. Thank you CJ resident and band member Scott Lewis for hooking us up those many years ago! Safety tweaks to the 51-year-old tradition included moving ticket sales and the serving line outside. The table seating, also outside, was widely spaced and, in some cases, shaded by tents, thanks to community center director Barry Jones, who borrowed canopies from other rec centers. The center also provided all the tables and chairs and staff to help ensure the event ran smoothly and safely. The center is a much-valued partner in so many CJ traditions! All together some 525 meals were served and at least $5,000 raised through ticket sales and donations. While the final tally is still being calculated, the amount is on par with earlier feasts and will be used to support The Village News, MacArthur Blvd. Beautification, and the many CJCA-sponsored activities that we are looking to start holding again after a 17-month pandemic-induced hiatus. The Chicken and Crab Feast could not happen without the roughly 100 volunteers who step up to do everything from going door-to-door to sell tickets and preparing vegetables before the event to setting up tables, cooking all the incredible food, dishing up the dinners, serving the drinks, and cleaning up at the end of a very long day. For a couple of extremely dedicated volunteers the preparation for this beloved tradition starts more than a month before the big event. Since 2016, Allison and Patrick de Gravelles have coordinated this event, purchasing everything from paper goods and wooden mallets to cinnamon for the carrots and lemons for the lemonade. They deal with the permits and ensure that all of the cooking and food handling will pass muster with the county health inspector. This year they contended with the loss of some suppliers as well as the need to rethink how we handled aspects of the event. The tasks before and during the event are too numerous to count, yet Allison and Patrick handle every detail efficiently and without even breaking a sweat! A new duo of incredibly capable and unflappable volunteers appeared on the scene this year to handle ticket sales before and during the event. Despite being rookies, Stephanie Lai and Heather Tomlinson successfully coordinated the ticket selling efforts of more than 30 volunteers. All together some 577 tickets were sold, with 52 percent of purchasers opting for crab dinners and 48 percent for chicken. Another shout out goes to Robin Sidel, the CJ website editor, who made it possible for folks to buy tickets via the website, which accounted for 14 percent of ticket sales. It wouldn’t be a CJ Chicken and Crab Feast without Pete Cousté leading the crab cooking and Richard Hopkins manning the grill. Seriously, is there a better chicken rub to be found anywhere?! Heidi Lewis and Karen Melchar always seem to make a party out of prepping vegetables. The kitchen crew, headed by Kathleen Black, made sure there were plenty of tasty sides for meat eaters and vegetarians alike. Here are all of your neighbors who stepped up to keep this tradition going. Maybe next year you will consider joining them?! ADVANCE TICKET SELLERS – coordinated by Stephanie Lai and Heather Tomlinson Clare Amoruso, Lee Arbetman, Jessica Blake Hawke, Diana Carter, Deb Duffy, Amy Elsbree, Burr Gray, Linda Green, Helen Harris, Dallas Harrison, Marcy Harrison, Jim Heller, Elaine Hornauer, Virginia Ibarra, Dee Jennings, Courtney Krutoy, Charlotte Troup Leighton, Marget Maurer, Lorraine Minor, David Nester, Jenny Perry, Mandy and Tim Rehm, Lori Rieckelman, Susan Roberts, Juliet Rodman, Anne Rothman, Tim Shank, Robin Sidel, Jan Iris Smith, Sherri Stahl, Shannon Steward, Judy Welles, Lee Young VEGGIE PREP – headed by Heidi Lewis and Karen Melchar Sally Alain, Crista Gibbons, Marcy Harrison, Kerry, Sam and Clare Mustico, Yoshimi Nai, Lisa Norris, Wendy Rosensweig, Shannon Steward, Oona Stieglitz, Austin White, Barbara Wilmarth CHICKEN CREW – headed by Richard Hopkins Lynn Hopkins, Cole Hessman, Melih Karaca, Dennis Pillsbury CRAB CREW – headed by Pete Cousté Dan Berman, Joanne Carl, Michele Cousté, Anastasia Donnellan, Chris Enyart, Barry Hubscher, Dave Rosen KITCHEN CREW – headed by Kathleen Black Judith Bell, Reiko Berman, Anastasia Donnellan, Marcy Harrison, Sue Pierce, Shelly McKenzie, Andrew Strasfogel SET UP – coordinated by Burr Gray Dennis Bensen, Sarah Craven, Mark Gillespie, Greg Gurley, Emily Helmes, Jackie Hoglund, Melih Karaca, Scott Lewis, Anna McGuire, Bruce Meyers, Hanna Moerland, Dan Mustico, Pascal Pittman, Anne and Jeff Rothman, Ilene Rosen DAY-OF TICKET SALES AND CJCA TABLE – coordinated by Stephanie Lai and Heather Tomlinson Diana Carter, Amy Elsbree, Grace Lai, Heidi Lewis, Lori Rieckelman, Susan Roberts, Clara, Finn and Tatum Tomlinson BEVERAGES – headed by Florence Lehr Jackie Hoglund LEMONADE – headed by Anne Rothman My Lin Bui, Sydney Ishida, Andrea Williams SERVERS – coordinated by Susan Shipp Leslie Baldwin, Sarah Craven, Gail Davenport, Janet and Walt Dence, Emily Franklin, Lynn Gertzog, Linda Green, Meredith Griggs, Helen Harris, Lynn Hopkins, Dallas and Judy Harrison, Jim Ingraham, Dee Jennings, Anna McGuire, Karen Melchar, Leslie Meyers, Mark Posin, Jordan Rosenthal, Robin Sidel, Benno Schmidt, Jeff Shipp, Shannon Steward, Austin White, Barbara Wilmarth CLEAN UP – headed by Allison & Patrick de Gravelles and Burr Gray Leslie Baldwin, Kathleen Black, Michele and Pete Cousté, Rick Duffy, Amy Elsbree, Ken Eng, Clive and Helen Harris, Richard Hopkins, Marcy Harrison, Jackie Hoglund, Florence Lehr, Mike Liebman, Karen Melchar, David Pillsbury, Jordan Rosenthal, Benno Schmidt, Jeff and Susan Shipp, Shannon Steward, as well as others there at the end who kindly pitched in! PHOTOGRAPHER – Rick Hatch Apologies to anyone that we inadvertently left off this list. Please know that your assistance in the success of this event was greatly appreciated. By Susan Shipp, CJCA President ...
Back by Popular Demand: A Cabin John Halloween
October 14, 2021
The pandemic forced Cabin Johners to get creative for Halloween last year so that sweets could be doled out while keeping trick-or-treaters, their families, and treat givers safe. The resulting plan, pulled together by Robin Sidel and former CJ resident Nancy Russell, created an incredibly festive and fun atmosphere throughout the community. The Cabin John Citizens Association wants to encourage Cabin Johners to continuethis thoughtful and creative approach to the holiday. Here’s how to participate: FOR THOSE GIVING OUT CANDY – Make sure your treats are commercially wrapped. – Starting at 5 pm on Halloween, set the treats up outside your house in a way that makes it easy for trick-or-treaters to pick one. Some ideas: – Place treats on a table at the end of your driveway. – Use wood skewers to decorate your lawn with treat bags attached. – Hang treat bags from a tree in your yard with string or clothespins. – If you’d like to enjoy the festivities, set up a chair behind your table or elsewhere that provides safe space between you and the trick-or-treaters. – Masks are encouraged when unable to socially distance. – If you’d rather not participate, turn your lights off or put a sign on your dooror mailbox. FOR TRICK-OR-TREATERS AND PARENTS – At least one adult should supervise each group of trick-or-treaters. – Please respect those who don’t wish to participate and only approach houses with goodies set up outside. No ringing doorbells. – Avoid crowding ⎯ if there’s a group already at one house, move on to the next one and circle back once they’ve moved on. – Masks are encouraged when unable to socially distance. – Bring flashlights and wear reflective clothing, lights, or glow necklaces and bracelets to make yourselves visible once it gets dark. Please send any pictures you take to VNeditorial@ gmail.com by Nov. 1 for publication in the November issue of The Village News. Happy trick-or-treating! By Loretta Devery Ingalls, Village News Editor ...
Local Nature: Order in the Garden!
October 14, 2021
First year, sleep; second year, creep; third year, leap. That’s the advice of green-thumbs for those who decide to plant native species in their gardens. In other words, have patience with your new seedlings. There may be a less happy corollary to this timetable, though, at least when your focus shifts from introducing a single new plant to filling an entire garden with natives: first year, seeds; second year, weeds; third year, chaos. That was the progression of my backyard botanical garden composed of native species. It descended rapidly from orderly patches of flowering plants, each with their own marker, to a dense undifferentiated tangle along the margins and often around valuable but slow-growing natives, threatening to shade them out. I mistakenly assumed that just by planting natives, everyone would get along. They’d somehow keep to their assigned section and not eye their neighboring plant’s turf with longing. After all, I figured, these plants had tens of thousands of years of evolution to figure out competition and coexistence. Was I ever wrong! Just because plants are native, they can be as aggressive as any non-native in crowding out the less competitive—I prefer “more sensitive”— members of our local flora. The spillover of one flowering plant may be unwelcome and require the seemingly unnatural experience of weeding out natives and treating them a bit like invasive weeds. There is a great solution to this predicament, though: put the over-extenders in separate pots and share them with your friends. My wife and I, for example, currently have this problem with the magnificent blue passion flower vine, which produces the most spectacular flowers in our local flora. It took three years in a sunny spot for this species to rev up but now it volunteers everywhere. Now we have run out of friends or neighbors to whom to offer pots of this vine. So if you need blue passion flower vine for your trellises or sunny front porches, drop me an email at edinerstein@ resolve.ngo. The bumblebees will love you. Obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana) is one native that you think would behave given its name. A member of the mint family, the obedient plant sends up 3-foot stems at the end of summer and offers a delightful spray of lilac-to-magenta flowers along its stalks. The name is derived from the plant’s pliancy: if you bend the stem gently, rather than snap off, it will keep that bended shape as it continues to grow. If planted in the right conditions, however, in well-watered areas on fertile soil and in partial sun, the obedient plant can become rather disobedient and wander into the neighboring plant beds. I don’t mind this overreach because the obedient plant is such a wonderful wildflower to grow, attracting ruby-throated hummingbirds, butterflies, and bumblebees to its copious nectar. Also known as false dragonhead—it resembles snapdragons from childhood gardens—obedient plant ranges from eastern Canada to Mexico. Aside from prompting childhood memories, long flowering time is another great reason to add obedient plant to your garden. Long after the last aster flower has bid adieu in October, deep into November and early December will be the bright magenta flowers of obedient plant. We all like to be exceptions to the rule, and obedient plant is a prime example. It’s a member of the mint family, the Lamiaceae, which in general is one of the most odiferous families of plants out there. We value fragrant members of the family—basil, sage, lavender, rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram, and others we use as herbs—and then there is the stinky dead nettle. With more than 7,000 species in the family, the mint is one of the top 10 families of flowering plants. I would wager that you can tell almost every species, or at least genus, apart by its odor—at least a mint connoisseur could. But you can’t tell obedient plant by its odor. It has none. Like the coleus plant, another mint we use as an indoor decoration, obedient plant has to go by its luxurious flowering stalk to claim a place in our garden and hearts. But it is a noteworthy species to have. When the dark early days of December make spring and summer feel like a distant memory, there is the still-flowering obedient plant telling us to be patient. Winter will pass and there will be flowers again. By Eric Dinerstein, Contributing Writer Illustration By Trudy Nicholson, Contributing Artist ...
State Actions on Beltway Expansion Prompts CJ Advocacy
September 20, 2021
Various state agencies are taking critical action on the state’s Beltway expansion plans, prompting what could be the last opportunity for Cabin John residents to weigh in on the massive project. Most anticipated, is the expected mid- September publication of the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS), which will trigger the last 45-day public comment period and public hearing of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process for the Beltway expansion. The project would replace the American Legion Bridge and add four toll lanes – two in each direction – from the Virginia side of the bridge, up the Beltway to the I-270 spur, and up l-270 to l-370. Plan to attend the Sept. 29 CJCA meeting, 7:30 p.m. which will be held via Zoom, for a briefing on the latest developments and ways to provide comments. The citizens association also will be asking the community to authorize up to $2,000 to, once again, engage VHBMetroDC, to review the SDEIS and provide technical points on traffic and other negative impacts. The initial DEIS, produced by the Federal Highway Administration and the Maryland Department of Transportation and published for comment in July 2020, was 19,000 pages and yet still inadequate. Of particular concern to Cabin John was its failure to address construction and long- term impacts on our local roads as well as the noise and visual impacts of the planned exit ramp to River Rd. The supplemental DEIS is supposed to address many issues raised in the public comments submitted last fall. OTHER DEVELOPMENTS THAT WILL BE TALKED ABOUT INCLUDE: A Sept. 8 communication from the SHA saying it is proposing that the Beltway expansion “completely avoids” the Morningstar Moses Hall and Cemetery as well as the adjacent MDOT SHA right-of-way for the current Beltway after archaeological mapping and ground penetrating radar surveys at the cemetery this summer indicated 14 probable graves and the potential for as many as 34 burials within the current Beltway right-of-way, according to report findings released by the SHA to the CJCA, the Friends of Moses Hall, and other consulting parties to the Section 106 process. The surveys, which only covered a portion of the cemetery, also found the potential for hundreds more graves than the 80 that have been identified by the Friends of Moses Hall through historical records. Under Section 106, the government is requiredto review the Beltway expansion project’s potential impact on historic properties. The transmittal letter explained that the state’s selection of a preferred design alternative in January prompted the SHA to update the Section 106 review. Other historical properties near Cabin John in the review include the C&O Canal and Plummers Island. The SHA is asking all consulting parties to provide comments on the updated Section 106 documentation by Oct. 8. The August 11 action by the Maryland Board of Public Works giving two Maryland Department of Transportation agencies approval to move forward with the Public-Private Partnership Agreement with Accelerate Maryland Partners LLC (Transurban) for pre-development work on the New American Legion Bridge I-270 Traffic Relief Plan. BPW’s approval is a significant milestone in advancing the Beltway expansion project as the predevelopment agreement gives the go-ahead for Transurban to work towards a 30% design level for the project, so it will be vitally important for community stakeholders to engage during this process. By Charlotte Troup Leighton, CJCA Vice President for Advocacy Susan Shipp, CJCA President ...
Meet our new 2021 CJCA Officers/Volunteers – Vashti Van Wyke, CJCA Co-President
September 20, 2021
What brought your family to Cabin John? I grew up in Silver Spring and after a lot of moving around on the East and West Coasts, my husband, four kids, and I moved to Cabin John from Boston in 2014. We feel like we hit the jackpot in terms of fabulous local schools, amazing and accessible nature, and a cozy, supportive community. We love Cabin John! What led you to volunteer as vice president of activities? On the theory that great communities don’t just exist but have to be nurtured over time, we try to do our part when we can to help Cabin John continue to thrive. I served as co-editor of the Village News for a couple of years and am currently the vice chair of the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board, which includes Cabin John. Susan Shipp has been a tireless and dedicated leader of the CJCA for many years now, and I agreed to be her co-president this year because the job is really too big for just one person. I’m hoping to support Susan primarily by helping out with the monthly CJCA meetings. We are also both interested in setting the precedent for a regular co-presidency every year so that this important community role is shared and manageable. If you’re ready to give back to CJ, consider volunteering to be a CJCA co-President starting in June 2022! Your community needs you! ...
Then and Now: Does Mysterious “Female Stranger” have ties to Cabin John?
September 20, 2021
Across the Potomac River, the grave of a mysterious young woman who died over 200 years ago rests in an Alexandria cemetery. The legend of the female stranger has been a part of Old Town’s lore for centuries. One hundred years after her death, a romance novel attempted to sprinkle some of the legend’s fairy dust on Cabin John, just as the area was being developed by J.S. Tomlinson’s American Land Company. To this day, the identity of the female stranger remains an abiding mystery. Alexandria’s Gadsby’s Tavern and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Cemetery, as well as the valley below the Cabin John Bridge all played a role in the 1912 novel. On a recent weekend, I dragged my family across the Potomac in search of the female stranger’s story, and perhaps to even catch a glimpse of her ghost in Gadsby’s, where she died. The story begins in St. Paul’s Cemetery, where a large marble slab set upon six rounded legs continues to draw tourists. It’s inscribed with the following: To the memory of a FEMALE STRANGER Whose mortal sufferings terminated on the 14th day of October 1816 Aged 23 years and 8 months. This stone is placed here by her disconsolate Husband in whose arms she sighed out her Latest breath and who under God Did his utmost even to soothe the cold dead ear of death. How loved how valued once avails thee not To whom related or by whom begot A heap of dust alone remains of thee Tis all though art and all the proud shall be. To him gave all the Prophets witness that Through his name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins. Acts 10th Chap 43rd verse The story of Old Alexandria’s female stranger and her husband portray them as mysterious upper class figures, often with a British accent. The couple met the end of their tragic tale in room 8 of the City Hotel (now Gadsby’s Tavern), where the young wife died of an unknown illness. The legend of the female stranger was chronicled in countless newspapers throughout the 1800s. An 1882 book by William F. Carne, The Narrative of John Trust, describes a love triangle between orphans. Another tale recounts a young couple who disembarked from their ship because the wife had taken ill. She succumbed to her illness and her husband, after paying for her tombstone with forged English notes, disappeared. One popular theory is that the female stranger may have been Theodosia Burr Alston, the daughter of Aaron Burr (the carrot that convinced my Hamilton-mad daughter to come along on our excursion), who went missing at sea in 1813. Some forty years after Theodosia disappeared, a pirate and sailor claimed they had taken her boat and held her captive, then secretly brought her ashore when she fell ill. What connects the legend of the female stranger to Cabin John? A 1912 romance novel by Charles T. Johnson Jr., The Legend of the Female Stranger: A Tale of Cabin John Bridge and Old Alexandria. Johnson’s novel depicts the story of a beautiful young orphan raised by an elderly nobleman in England. The lord fell in love with her but was devastated to learn that she loved a young army surgeon named John. After he witnessed the young woman and her lover embrace, heated words were exchanged and the lord accidentally fell, never to recover. The young lovers, fearful of murder charges, escaped to America with the help of John’s brother, a ship captain. They married en route. Upon reaching the shores of the Potomac, John’s brother took them to a place he’d seen on a previous journey, a place that “should he ever desire a place whither he might hide from all the world, yet remain at the very elbow of civilization, he knew of no nook more ideal than in this valley on the banks of this peaceful brook.” Along Cabin John’s Run, the couple built a small, rustic cabin and lived happily in the abundant forest. Yet the young woman’s health slowly deteriorated. One September morning John returned from an outing and found his bride delirious with fever. He grabbed his canoe and paddled to Alexandria. The couple were helped to the City Hotel, a distinguished inn which boasted dinner guests that included George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette. A doctor was summoned to their room. John’s wife confessed that should she not survive, she wished to remain unknown, a stranger in a strange land. On October 14th, 1816 the young woman passed away, leaving behind her distraught husband John. As promised, he buried her beneath a slab that memorialized a female stranger; her burial plot and tabletop gravestone would have been a considerable expense. John returned to his cabin in the woods, distraught. He wandered the creek, birds and squirrels his only friends. His unkempt hair and overgrown beard enveloped his gaunt body. Is the female stranger’s shattered husband the reclusive hermit that gave Cabin John its name? Mr. Johnson’s novel weaves together two legends, borrowing Old Alexandria’s female stranger and placing her alongside John of the Cabin. It is interesting to note that Johnson’s book ends with a “Nota Bene” that details the trip to Cabin John Bridge, “long a favorite jaunt of pleasure seekers. The beautiful valley spanned by the big bridge, which was home to the lovers during their exile, lies about five miles northwest of Washington.” Whether pure fiction or a catchy sales pitch for the new development, the mystery endures. By Rachel Donnan, Regular Contributor ...
Local Nature: Summer’s End
September 20, 2021
The end of summer cues the flowering members of the Aster family to take center stage. Fall aster, boneset, mistflower, goldenrod, wingstem, and even ragweed turn out for the last big flowering episode of the season. The warm sunny days of late August bring the most colorful aster of all, black-eyed Susans. They appear then seemingly everywhere, especially in garden edges. This local sun-worshipper is the state flower of Maryland, and happily a native species, ranging across much of the eastern U.S. What sets off black-eyed Susans from other flowers is of course the brilliance of their golden yellow ray flowers (the petals) punctuated by a black or blackish brown disc in the center. The petals appear to have absorbed the sun’s rays so intenselyas to infuse them with a yellow-gold that brings happiness to those who gaze at the masses in the flower beds. The disk flowers attract a lovely visitor to drink the nectar, the American Painted Lady butterfly. This species undertakes long migrations here and in Europe where, across the Atlantic, it is believed some individuals have migrated from Iceland to south of the Sahara Desert. The alternate-leaved plants have hairy leaves, thus earning Rudbeckia hirta as its specific epithet, hirta meaning hairy. Carolus Linnaeus, the namer of most botanical things, named our black-eyed Susan after Olof Rudbeck the Younger and the senior Rudbeck. Olof the Younger was Linnaeus’s patron and a naturalist in his own right. Olof the Elder was a scientist of many stripes: aside from discovering the lymph system, for example, he also created Sweden’s first botanic garden. The black eyed-Susan is also known as coneflower, so named because the ray petals are displayed downward, showing off the darker center of disc flowers, much like a badminton shuttlecock. Perhaps this makes the seeds in the flower heads more accessible. The American goldfinches are now frequenting our gardens, feeding on those oil-rich seeds of the coneflower to build their fat stores (many of the species overwinter here). In fact, this for me signals summer’s end, the brilliant canary yellow- and-black plumage of the males and the less colorful females performing their looping, up-and-down flight, like seed-fueled stunt pilots flitting from one flower bed of black- eyed Susans to another. The males twitter a melodic finch song as they move from patch to patch, one of the more joyful songs in nature. The bright yellow and black of the birds, the brilliant flowers they seek out for seeds, and their song of summer’s end— together they remind us how good it is to be alive, even in the age of COVID. By Eric Dinerstein, Contributing Writer Illustration By Trudy Nicholson, Contributing Artist ...
Annual Chicken and Crab Feast Is Back!
August 21, 2021
The community center is open, the coordinators, crab cooker, chicken griller, and sides chef, along with other key volunteers, are on board, and that means the annual Cabin John Chicken and Crab Feast is back in business! This year’s event will be held Saturday, Sept. 18 from 2 pm to 6 pm. The same crowd- pleasing menu of delicious grilled chicken, tasty steamed crabs, and classic side dishes will be served. There also will be beer, wine, sodas, and lemonade for sale. Attendees will enjoy the sounds of the talented and generous Starlight Orchestra. The 12-piece jazz and swing band is now firmly part of the Crab Feast tradition having provided the event with live entertainment since 2011! There will be plenty of dining tables set up outside so that folks can relax and enjoy the great food, many beverage options, and live entertainment while visiting with friends and neighbors. Traditionally, dining tables are also set up inside the all-purpose room in case of inclement weather. Due to Covid, we will not be able to offer an indoor dining option. Should we have rain, dinners will be offered to go. All volunteers working inside at the event will be masked, per current county requirements. Due to the extremely high price of crabs, we are selling two different meal tickets this year. As always, patrons can save money by purchasing their tickets in advance: A chicken dinner ticket costs $16 in advance and $18 at the door. With your ticket, you get a piece of grilled chicken and three sides, or five sides, if you want a vegetarian option. A crab dinner ticket costs $20 in advance or $25 at the door. With this ticket, you get three crabs and three sides OR six crabs and no sides. This annual event is not only a wonderful community gathering, but the primary fundraiser for the Cabin John Citizens Association, whose work includes The Village News, the Cabin John Directory, community advocacy, and activities ranging from blood drives and the new neighbor potluck to July 4th festivities, CJ Trivia Night, and the Turkey Trot. VOLUNTEERS NEEDED! This event takes a village (typically more than 80 volunteers) to pull off successfully. If you can donate an hour or two of your time on either Friday, Sept. 17 to help prepare vegetables for cooking or Saturday between the hours of 8:30 am and 7:30 pm, please contact Allison de Gravelles, email@example.com, or Susan Shipp, jsjshipp3@ verizon.net, and they will match your skills with a job that needs to get done. If you are willing to help coordinate an aspect of this endeavor, such as organizing the serving line or coordinating ticket and merchandise sales during the event, we could really use your help! Once again, just reach out and we will find the right role for you. Thank you!...
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