There is an enormous bag of peanuts among the pictures of racehorses and sailboats that decorate Annapolis Mayor Ellen O. Moyer's office.
"They're for feeding the squirrels" that congregate on the steps of City Hall, said Moyer, who this month celebrates her first anniversary as the first female mayor of this Colonial-era state capital.
The squirrel constituency isn't a high priority for most mayors, but it is for Moyer, who is more comfortable out in nature than directing the Kabuki theater that is a typical City Council meeting. She even shuttles between Maryland and Kentucky to dote on her horse, tentatively dubbed First Lady, who was born not long after she took office.
During her first year in office, Moyer's eclectic interests have put her in a number of unusual situations. She rode a mule into town and onstage in the opera "Die Fledermaus." She's also gotten her hands dirty planting trees at the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts.
By no means does she expect to slow down as her term goes on. Last week, she lectured at a historic preservation conference at Harvard; her next big adventure is a 2,300-mile drive to the western tip of Alaska.
Such activities haven't diminished her effectiveness on the job. Moyer's liberal-leaning agenda, with an emphasis on community outreach and environmental protection, usually keeps her at work until 10 p.m.
Over the last year, she has won virtually every contested vote on the City Council; raked in grant money from the state government, even as it sank into a deficit; placated the city's four unions; and jousted with Baltimore Gas and Electric tree-trimmers and wealthy developers.
Her agenda stretches beyond the city limits: She created a program to donate shoes to needy children in Afghanistan and dispatched her city administrator to Tallinn, Estonia, to look at making it a sister city.
Her next year, however, promises to be less of a lark.
The first challenge popped up after Election Day. Moyer, a former lobbyist for the Maryland State Teachers Association and the ex-wife of a popular former mayor during the 1960s, campaigned on her connections to what pundits called an "old girls' network" of Democrats: Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and County Executive Janet S. Owens.
But now Townsend, defeated in the gubernatorial election by Republican Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., is all but gone from the political scene. And Owens may find it harder to be generous to Annapolis now that she has to compromise with a majority-Republican County Council. Finally, her opponent in the bitterly contested mayoral election, Republican Herb McMillan, could come back to haunt her now that he is a member of the state House of Delegates.
Still, Moyer said she is optimistic that she can coexist with Ehrlich and the GOP. "This is his capital city," she said. "He's going to be living here."
And just in case Ehrlich proves intransigent, she still has a friend in state Del. Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel), a longtime Annapolis resident who was recently elected speaker of the House.
Still, when people point out the challenges that she faces -- the political realities, the skittish economy, the usual problems with crime, traffic and parking -- she speaks cheerfully of "harnessing the power of people who want to contribute" and of "fulfilling all the goals that we set for ourselves."
It's a sunshine formula that Moyer says has worked for the last year, and she hopes to use it again.
After all, she said, "we've got a lot to accomplish."