Rodricks: Giving thanks for a smoky sunrise, whistleblowers, flowering trees and Lamar

In a memorable Chesapeake moment from August, the morning sun burned through smoky clouds over Eastern Bay south of Kent Island.
In a memorable Chesapeake moment from August, the morning sun burned through smoky clouds over Eastern Bay south of Kent Island. (Dan Rodricks / Baltimore Sun)

On this Thanksgiving, I express gratitude to the forces that created, on the morning of Aug. 15, over Eastern Bay south-southeast of Kent Island, clouds that seemed to come from some mystical fire in the Chesapeake horizon. Smoky forms gave way slowly to blue and white and sun. The transformation only lasted a few minutes, but I am grateful for each.

Let’s be thankful for our many local treasures. They are too numerous to mention in full, but let me offer a partial list: The Enoch Pratt Free Library, and all the county libraries, for that matter; the Walters and the BMA; Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson; Oriole Park and the B&O warehouse; the NCR Trail; the Preakness; Patterson Park and the annual Halloween lantern parade; Artscape; the Senator Theatre; breakfast at Pete’s Grille in Waverly and Duesenberg’s in Catonsville. Did I mention Lamar Jackson?


I could go on, so I will: The Museum of Industry; our farmer’s markets; Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra; Cromwell Valley Park; John Waters; music at the Caton Castle Lounge; karaoke at 3 Miles House in Remington, the chocolate crabs at the Sweet Shoppe in Cross Street Market, and don’t let me forget Lamar Jackson.

American taxpayers should be thankful that people who care about the rule of law work for the federal government — and I mean those in the State Department, the law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and the military. They apparently care more about upholding the Constitution than the current president and every Republican member of Congress.


Baltimoreans should be thankful to their former mayor, Catherine Pugh, for at least one thing — pleading guilty to federal charges and sparing us a long trial.

We send special thanks to Jennifer Boone, special agent in charge of the Baltimore office of the FBI, for offering these words with regard to Pugh and anyone who holds elected office: “The [Pugh case] is an example of what happens when a public servant engages in corrupt behavior, seeking personal gain through fraud while occupying a position of public trust. Ms. Pugh blurred the lines between her public duties and private business. … [Her] actions erode public confidence and undermine the strength of our democracy. No one is above the law. … There is a growing intolerance by the American people of public corruption. … We are always grateful for those who come forward to report such corruption.”

Be thankful for the Whistleblower.

Let’s give thanks to the American Civil Liberties Union, Maryland attorney general Brian Frosh and attorneys general throughout the country who, through the courts, fight President Trump as he tries to dismantle environmental protections, treat immigrants as a criminal class and use his office to reap profits for his family business.

Be thankful if you are not a refugee who turned to the United States for help this year, during the worst refugee crisis since World War II. You were not only terrorized by war or unsettled by natural disaster, you were devastated to learn that a country long considered a beacon of hope had shut the door to you and thousands of others.

Give thanks and praise to Atwater’s for hiring refugees to prepare the food in their fine restaurants.

Be thankful you’re not Baltimore Mayor Jack Young. Heading into the 2020 campaign, he will hear opponents (and pundits) remind voters of his “I’m not committing the murders/How can you fault leadership?” statement every time the city’s crime rate comes up, which will be often.

Be thankful for forests, and the efforts being made by county executives in Anne Arundel, Frederick and Howard to preserve and expand them.

Let’s give thanks to the people behind Baltimore’s Flowering Tree Trails. They want to create and connect nearly 40 miles of magnolias, ornamental cherry and Eastern redbud trees through city parks and neighborhoods. Recently, more than 100 volunteers turned out to plant three dozen trees along Parkside Drive in Herring Run Park. It’s a great project that could be a tourist attraction every spring.

Give a nod of thanks if you have a job with an employer who respects your work, pays a decent wage, throws you an annual bonus, remembers your birthday and treats you and your coworkers to a sandwich or pizza once in a while.

Remember, with gratitude, the older people — teachers, coaches, coworkers — who encouraged you when you were first getting started, people who cared as much about your soul as your talents, who challenged you to be better than you thought you could be.

Give a sigh of thanks that you’re not a military commander in the time of Trump. It’s a tough enough job without having a president sabotage your efforts to maintain discipline and high standards of conduct necessary in the ranks for honorable service to the country.


I give thanks for the amazing ride I took through Savage River State Forest in October, just as the trees exploded in gold and red; for the full-length, near-cashmere coat I bought at the Goodwill store for 10 bucks; for the fresh sardines I purchased from Hazlo of Highlandtown and grilled last Christmas Eve; for the life-affirming cup of coffee I had at Cafe Poupon on Aug. 27.

I give eternal thanks for having known these departed: Turkey Joe Trabert, connoisseur of Baltimore, baseball, beer and bawdy humor; colleagues from the bygone Evening Sun, editorial page editor Ray Jenkins and editorial cartoonist Mike Lane, and the righteous Rep. Elijah Cummings.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun