• Dental Nirvana

    In the early 1970’s my dentist sent me to an oral surgeon to have my wisdom teeth removed.  The teeth had tried to appear numerous times, erupting periodically and then retreating into the gum.  “They have to come out” he said “there simply isn’t room for them.”  I knew he was right. The eruption and retreat cycle had also been uncomfortable, giving me a renewed sympathy for babies.  My husband accompanied me to the surgeon, settling into the waiting room of worn leather chairs and tattered magazines to wait for my post-surgical appearance.  I knew the surgery would leave me with a sore mouth, but I was grateful that I…

  • Dogwood Tree

    We moved to this condo as spring faded into summer. We chose this as our new home after much searching and we opted for it over newer or more modern homes because of its location and view. The building is 1970’s vintage and in need of some work, but it is set in a city oasis, a 50-acre parklike development with mature trees, shrubbery and flower beds. Our living area’s eight-foot sliding glass doors open onto a canopied deck overlooking a treed lawn and a lake with resident ducks. Close to the deck, a dogwood was near the end of its bloom when we moved in, the ground beneath it…

  • Fragments of this Wall

    Driving down I83 towards Baltimore, just past the Northern Parkway exits, you might note construction work to the right of the roadbed where laborers are installing additional track for the light rail system.  Just beyond the construction, on wooded land now belonging to Baltimore City’s Cylburn Arboretum, a worn stone wall snakes through the trees.  I wonder about it each time I pass. Who built it? For what purpose?  It might have been built to contain grazing livestock, or perhaps the land had once been cleared for farmland and that the walls, like those in Ireland, are built of stones uncovered by the plow.  I wonder about those who constructed…

  • The Washington Monument

    On July 4, 1815 the people of Baltimore climbed a lush wooded hill overlooking the city to lay the cornerstone for the first monument to George Washington in the United States. Like other Julys in Baltimore, the day was probably sweltering, the hot sun beating down on this crowd of 20,000 as they hiked the incline to Howard’s Woods. "After walking about a mile I came to the summit of a hill that overlooked the city, and there I stopped a moment to take breath.…The ground had begun to smoke with the warmth of the rising sun, and the city seemed to spread itself out before me.…towering above the fog…

  • Hotel Rideau

    I’ve learned many times the truth in the phrase “you can’t go home again.” [1]  A trip to a Maryland seaside resort several years ago made this aphorism unquestionably and somehow sadly clear for me once again. For successive summers in the 1950’s I travelled with my parents, brother, and paternal grandparents for a week-long vacation in Ocean City, MD. Other than Christmas, it was the most exciting highlight on my childhood calendar. Anticipation grew as the trip drew near and my mother began packing the large brown suitcases laid out in my parent’s bedroom. When the day of departure arrived, all six of us, plus luggage were crammed into…

  • October at Cylburn

    Yesterday we went for an autumn walk through Cylburn Arboretum.  We take such walks regularly when the weather is sweet, and yesterday was such a day — the sun shining, the breeze moving through the richly colored leaves, the pines and cedars dark against a bright blue sky. At the edge of the visitors parking lot stands an impressive bed or ornamental grass.  The airy plants resemble a sea of swaying feathers, the seed heads topping their stems bobbing like ocean froth in the golden October sun.  At a distance, the bed seemed a uniform dull sienna, but walking closer I see that the sheaths are a soft olive green,…

  • The War of 1812

    The War of 1812 and the decisive battle of Baltimore gave Americans both a new sense of unity and a stirring national anthem. But envision for a moment what it must have been like for simple men — bricklayers, ship caulkers, shoemakers, tailors – to take up arms in defense of their city, knowing that they faced a larger, well-seasoned and superior force.  Imagine what it might have been like to stand with Francis Scott Key aboard the deck of a British vessel several miles from the harbor, helplessly witnessing the brutal attack on Fort McHenry.  Picture him there in the thin pale light of dawn, his heart aching over…

  • Communities and Churches

    I grew up just north of the Highlandtown section of Baltimore.  Ours was a safe and tight knit community, and the church we attended was approximately one-half block from our front door.  My parents were very active in the church and so from a young age my brother and I attended church, Sunday school and summer bible school.  When I grew older, I studied catechism, participated in youth group, sang in the choir, went to a church sponsored summer camp, took orders for Christmas candy, Easter eggs and bake sale fundraisers, and waited tables at church suppers and bazaars.   The people who attended the church lived in the neighborhood as…

  • Captain Arthur

    “How you doing, Captain Arthur?”  “Jus’ kicking lightly, m’am, kicking lightly.”  Captain Arthur Jones is among the best of gentleman and a fixture of the Kent Narrows, Maryland landscape. While the seafood industry has produced many interesting stories, there is none more so than that of eighty-eight year old Jones, who began working at the Narrows at the tender age of twelve. In the summer of 1930, young Arthur joined his brother and cousins to walk the 70+ miles from Accomac, Virginia to Hurlock, Maryland. Following the railroad tracks and walking day and night, they reached friends in Hurlock early on a Monday morning, secure that these friends would help them reach Kent Island where…

  • Baltimore Riots

    The recent unrest in Baltimore stirred my  memories of  the night of April 6, 1968 and the Baltimore riot that occurred in response to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. I  had dropped out of college after two years due to lack of funds, and was working two jobs in order to save enough to finish my degree.  My day job was as a secretary-typist at IBM, and I waitressed  three nights a week at Baltimore’s Park Plaza.  A Mount Vernon area landmark, the Plaza, built in 1842 had been a private home, a social club and several incarnations of restaurants.   The front dining room was relatively sedate, and…