That Peaceful, Laid-Back Antidote
Summer holds numerous magical moments for us in Frederick County. Even when the heat is blistering like the last few weeks, residents can partake of special joys denied those who prefer more densely populated environs.
Looking back over my own summer calendar, it reads like the diary of a man obsessed with fun, food, and friends.
First, there are the carnivals. Fire companies hold great carnivals, with rides, games, and most of all - FOOD; so much great food that, in fact, thoughts of diet and weight gain quickly become secondary considerations.
Fire companies aren't the only groups who have the carnival thing down pat. Ruritan clubs also do a great job, with stands that rival any food I've ever eaten anywhere.
I've succumbed to the seafood platter at Urbana Fire Company carnival, the pit beef at the Carroll Manor Fireman's Carnival, country ham at the Burkittsville Ruritan Carnival, and fried chicken at the Jefferson Ruritan Carnival.
I always feel bad for the professional food vendors at these events, but I'd rather fill up on the entrees and sides from the volunteer food vendors than the carts and wagons.
Any one of these meals stands up to restaurant-quality food, and I probably ate too much at every one of them. I marvel at the volunteers behind the counter, especially at the outdoor venues. They're suffering in the intense heat, but everyone has a smile, a wave, and a platter in hand.
Speaking of food, how about those lines at Rita's Italian Ice on Patrick/South Street? Those crowds used to all be over at Freez King on East Street, but now they're better disbursed.
Most Frederick County towns have their own ice cream hangout, and I like 'em all, so I won't pretend to pick favorites. We have four good places to get ice cream now in Brunswick, so forget the waistline!
Another summer pastime enjoyed more thoroughly here is youth baseball. This summer has seen a level of play that assures our regions dominance on the sandlots for years to come.
Teams from Thurmont, Frederick, and Brunswick have fought their way to the top of state competitions this summer. Ballfields throughout the county have hosted amazing athletes smacking the horsehair to the delight of parents, siblings, and grandparents.
There is nothing as special as watching a whole family cheer a youngster around the bases, or encouraging that youthful arm to muster up the strength for just one more "heater" across the plate.
Summer brings out the tubes, kayaks, and canoes on the Potomac River. You can buy a river trip from the many outdoor adventure companies, and float or paddle your way from Harpers Ferry down to Brunswick.
Taking a couple of hours out of your hectic life to float aimlessly down the Potomac has a restorative quality on the soul. All of your life's demanding priorities seem more in focus after a lazy drift down the river.
Cunningham Falls and Greenbrier State Parks have swimming areas at the lakes, and I enjoy watching the families who bring kids, cookers, charcoal, floats, toys, towels and chairs along.
They remind me of the clown cars at the circus, with the father pulling more stuff out of the trunk than you'd ever believe possible.
Another summer highlight is the cacophony of sound and light the week before through the week after July 4th. It seems that every kid in my Brunswick neighborhood tries to outdo the other with legal ground display fireworks.
I love that these kids can enjoy this special time without unnecessary government intervention. Not everyone is so happy, though. One of my neighbors has a conniption every year, so I try to encourage the kids to get the fireworks stuff over as quickly - and as early - as possible.
The same fireworks my son sets off out front are illegal in Delaware, my birthplace. Those poor kids don't know what they're missing. Maybe that neighbor would be happier in Delaware!
Stoop-sitting is another aspect of life in our county that occurs in the warmer months, although the recent desert-like conditions have chased many into the air-conditioned living rooms and parlors.
I enjoy driving down South Street into downtown Frederick and seeing neighbors sit out front and talk between houses. I can't help but imagine the clatter of horse and buggy in days gone by.
Brunswick, Woodsboro, Thurmont, Emmitsburg, and New Market are also known as popular places for "setting a spell" on the front stoop. Turn of the century neighbors used this as the primary means of communicating. Today we just like to gossip a bit.
Summer is the peaceful, laid-back antidote to the hectic pace of the school year. Each year, the beauty of Maryland's largest land mass county unfolds in spectacular fashion when the weather warms up.
Pack a picnic basket, gather the family, and get out and enjoy this beautiful land that we are so fortunate to call home.