Impromptu shad roe lecture sheds light, but lays an egg

This Just In...

April 23, 2003|By DAN RODRICKS

I SAW a guy staring hard at shad roe the other day. He seemed to be baffled by it.

I've seen this happen before -- a man's first encounter with the glistening, ruby-colored egg sac of the poor man's salmon, which runs vigorously and in big numbers up the Chesapeake and into natal rivers each spring. Some call it "delicacy."

"Shad roe," I said, breaking the man's stare at the lobes. "Ever had it?"

"No, what is it?"

And I told him. Then he asked, "What do you do with it?"

And I told him that, too, using the words "saute in bacon fat."

That's about when I lost him.


Turtle waxing

I first saw the Patterson Park Eight in January. Ronnie The Zamboni Guy showed me to their place of gentle captivity -- the back room of the Patterson Park ice rink -- and introduced me to them.

They didn't have much to say -- turtles usually don't -- but they appeared content, sleeping or floating around in a big, back plastic pool with a gurgling, humming water pump. I'd like to use the word "adorable" to describe them, if that's OK with everybody.

Over the winter, I grew very fond of the Patterson Park Eight.

I like turtles. I brake for turtles. As a taxpayer in the city they call Baltimore, I am pleased that an effort was made to save them.

They were culled from the murky waters of the park's boat lake -- along with a .45-caliber handgun, lots of fat carp (one weighing 20 pounds and measuring 30 inches in length), several long kitchen knives, a gold ring, a plastic children's bike, a baseball bat and a crutch -- while the lake was drained and dredged.

It was Bob Wall, the guy who runs the park for the city, who made a home for the turtles -- not the snappers, but the adorable ones -- in a storage room of the ice rink until the renovations to the lake were completed. (Twelve snappers were relocated to other habitats.)

Among the Patterson Park Eight are red-ear sliders, red belly turtles and painted turtles. Your red-ear sliders are your basic pet-shop turtles, and the ones that ended up in Patterson Park probably escaped from a TV-top turtle tray in an East Baltimore rowhouse.

Among the red-bellies is a turtle named Lucky. He's called that because, in the fall of 2001, when the boat lake was being drained, a heavy-duty pump sucked him into a 4-inch pipe.

Luckily for Lucky, a tree limb went into the pipe first and clogged the pump, saving him from certain death in the mechanical maw of the pump.

On Saturday, Lucky and the gang will be released into the lake, and it will be an honor and a privilege for me to see this happen. (I've been asked to sort of officiate at this event, but I don't know if I should. I haven't a thing to wear.)

Meanwhile, you should see what they've done with the lake -- new retaining wall, new aquatic plantings and landscaping, new boardwalk and benches. Looks great.

Saturday's festivities include fishing for kids, a fly-fishing demonstration by Tochterman's, an appearance by the Hawg Wild chapter of B.A.S.S., the Mid-Atlantic Turtle and Tortoise Society, the Audubon Society, and the American Visionary Art Museum's Kinetic Sculpture Race.

The highlight will be the release of the Patterson Park Eight.

Yesterday, Bob Wall answered the phone in his office, down the hall and around the corner from the storage room where the turtles slept. I detected a little melancholy.

He loves those darn turtles, wants them back in the lake. But I think he's going to miss them.

You can get attached to turtles, you know?

A bark of dissent

A letter from a reader named Mike Wieczorek states:

"I am interested in trying to get an off-leash dog area in Patterson Park. I was wondering if you would help us, give us support, write a column."


I like parks. I like dogs. I like dogs with leashes in parks.

Oops, sorry

In a recent column about the Baltimore waterfront, I incorrectly stated that the Maryland Science Center plans to establish a new facility on land near the Hanover Street Bridge on the south side of the city. The son of the former Rose Popolo regrets the error.

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