A Morning Stroll

Back When I Still Had Hope



A Failure of Sorts

A Good Home-Run Swing

A Small Stream

Applied Science


Chamber of Commerce

Close Observation of a Plant


Die, Bambi, Die!

Edith Schrantz, Pedant

Happy Birthday to You

Mission Accomplished

My Garden

Pale Yellow Light

Recycle? Sure.

Sailing to Somewhere


The Death of Zane Grey



The sun shone brightly on this cool, late January morning, brightly enough to remind me that the winter solstice had passed, and the days were lengthening.  Thoughts of spring, like the daffodils in any sun-warmed spot out of the wind, began to poke up above the still cold winter ground.  This day I set off on my morning walk from our apartment in northern Baltimore County toward a nearby elementary school.  Our residential area is among the last sub-divisions before the forested buffer surrounding Loch Raven Reservoir, an area that must have been farmland not much more than a generation ago.  And though it’s irretrievably suburban now, enough of the rural character remains to remind me of what this place used to be.

I can see it in the deer, silent in the blue, pre-dawn light, wandering through the grassy lawns of our apartment complex, nibbling here and there on low-hanging tree buds.  It’s there in a groundhog’s burrow just behind the complex’s swimming pool, on a hillside covered with hawthorn and wild cherry, blackberry and honeysuckle.  Late last spring the groundhog came and ate only the heads off all my daisies.  Squirrels, of course, are everywhere, and even a red fox came sniffing around our back door the day after Thanksgiving, no doubt lured by the smell of the turkey bones we wrapped in newsprint and foolishly left on the patio.  The skies as well are rarely empty, as ravens and buzzards, rock pigeons and mourning doves, and all the smaller winter residents, cardinals, sparrows, and chickadees, flit and soar as they seek food and shelter.  Canadian geese and mallards also fly by occasionally on their way to and from Loch Raven.  Last August I even spotted a young bald eagle gliding effortlessly along the treetops beside the reservoir. 

So when I walk around the neighborhood on my morning rounds, I look past the 4-5 models of cookie cutter houses, past the asphalt roads, the driveways and fences, to the still-wooded hills around this suburban community.  I feel closer to the wild turkey and beaver, the barred owl and red-shouldered hawk that I’ve seen, or just heard, inside the nearby state park, Gunpowder Falls.  I had just such thoughts in mind as I took one of my more pleasant one-mile circuits near the elementary school.  One particularly beautiful section affords clear views of thickly forested slopes, reminding me of the reservoir’s backwater coves.  These slopes always beckon with promises of quiet, seclusion, and stillness, places where my heart feels free and safe.  And on this invigorating walk that fine mid-winter morning, sun bright, air clear and sharp, sky blue as blue ever is, feeling much younger than my forty-six years, I filled two large plastic trash bags with hundreds of discarded beer and soda cans I found along the way.  Two hundred and twelve, to be exact.  Later I dumped them at the county recycling center on York Road between the Chrysler and Mazda car dealers.  The plastic and glass bottles, the empty and crumpled cigarette packs, and the fast-food drink cups, lids, and plastic straws I left for another day.



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