News item, from an Environmental Protection Agency report on Brooklyn Park's Snow Hill Lane Dump, Anne Arundel County's most recent addition to the EPA's "Superfund" cleanup list:
"Past site investigations (1982-1989) revealed the presence of Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), lead, and cyanide at levels in the soil that were above expectedbackgrounds for the area.
"Also scattered across the site are abandoned drums and tires. The drums are in various stages of disintegration and have apparently been used for target practice."
Who shoots toxic waste? We can only imagine the brave and hardened souls who hunt these barrels down:
"Daddy, whar you goin' wit' the shotgun?"
"Huntin'. Come on son, fetch that peashooter a yours -- we're gonna bagus some PCBs."
Later on, father and son move silently in unison across one of Brooklyn Park's last wilderness areas. A soft easterly breeze blows a subtle waft of cyanide fumes across the footpath. Jed, the wizened urban woodsman, taps his son's shoulder and motions to a distant pine where a carrion crow is gagging.
Without any words the boy understands what his father is telling him. Their prey is near.
Soon, the stalkers spy a lone drum in a clearing near a ridge. It's a young, healthy barrel that has apparently strayed from the herd.
"You shoot him. Aim high, and figure on the breeze," Jed tells his boy in loving, but manly, tones.
The boy's .22 shakes, betrayinghis anxiety. He's never taken aim at real, live toxic waste before.
BANG -- TING.
All the practice blasting aerosol cans with his BB gun at the industrial park paid off -- he'd winged the big game.
The wounded drum fell and rolled down from the ridge toward the hunters. Its lifeblood solvents sprayed in all directions with each rotation. "He's charging us!" cries the boy, trying not to show panic.
Jed coolly raises his shotgun, and lets loose. The barrel is ripped apart, and the 55-gallon river of PCBs seeps quietly between two rocks, where it will eventually join the Patapsco Aquifer 30 feet below.
GETTING IN RABBIT HABIT
Gene Zarwell is a Crofton resident and consultant.
He's a Soviet military specialist. He's instrumental in the local promotion of the U.S.S. Annapolis, a submarine that will be launched this month. He has also just completed a videotape report forthe Department of Defense on the reserve troops in Operation Desert Storm.
He's drawing up plans to run for U.S. Senate.
And now he's a protector of bunny rabbits.
He didn't go looking for his latest project; it seems to have picked him. Call it a cross between "Watership Down," "Wild Kingdom" and "Crocket's Victory Garden."
At any rate, safe behind a 6-foot fence and carefully mowed around by Zarwell, is a small hole that has become the home of seven little orphan rabbits.
Zarwell said that he first thought the area was a diseased patch that he was going to have to dig up eventually.
"I saw these grass cuttings that had been piled up there, along with some lint from our clothes dryer," he recalled.
"I went over there to clean it up, but when I looked in, I saw about four or five little whatevers. They looked like little piglets at first, but after a while the ears started to develop."
The baby bunnies, whose mother may have been killed by a car, seem to be thriving, possibly on small roots and grass cuttings. As for water, Zarwell has no idea how they manage it,although he checks daily.
He says that he has been trying to protect his "guests" until they're strong enough to return to the wild but doesn't want to make them too tame or dependent on him.
"I'm notgoing to keep them," Zarwell says. "I take them out of the hole periodically to let them run around, but I have no experience as a teacher of rabbits."
BOXING IN THE BLOOD
First George Foreman. Then Larry Holmes.
Now Annapolitans are asking: Will Harold Greene return to the ring?
Sure, at 55, he's a little older than Foreman (42) andHolmes (41), but the Annapolis Housing Authority's executive director said he'd fight again if the price were right.
"I'd take a punchfrom Mike Tyson for $12.5 million," Greene said at a citywide retreat recently, suggesting that he might not be left standing for a second.
Still, with his trademark shaved head and mustache, Greene looks in formidable shape for any age.
"Once you've been a fighter of that renown, the music never leaves you," said Housing Authority employee Joseph "Zastrow" Simms, who once did some boxing himself. "I think if anyone were to challenge him, if they didn't see sharp, they'd be flat. I don't think I'll be the one to challenge him."
Greene grew up boxing in Harlem in the 1940s and 50s. He won a few amateur titles and fought a few pro fights before retiring at age 30 at the "advice" of his wife.
"My wife was not extremely happy with me boxing, and when we had kids, I retired from boxing," Greene said.
His fondest memories are sparring with Sugar Ray Robinson, Jersey Joe Walcott and Archie Moore in Manhattan gyms.
"They knew we were amateurs," Greene said. "It wasn't a question of us doing anything against them. It was a real thrill just being in the ring with them. They showed us things."
Talk of a comeback aside, Greene said he'd like to find a gym to teach boxing to kids in public housing.
"When kids get involved in boxing, they become very, very dedicated," Greene said. "If a kid is young enough when he starts, those kind of qualities stay with him a long, long time."