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Baltimore County Now

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Keyword: robert e. lee park

photo of an ownMichael Schneider
Baltimore County Department of Recreation and Parks

Surely you know that Baltimore County parks are among the coolest places in the county…But did you know that in the winter, these cold and often snow-covered havens of nature-at-its-best are even “cooler”?

If you are thinking parks are closed in the winter, oh boy, do we have some great news for you…We’re open for business with lots to keep you exercising your body and mind, and having lots of fun!

Over at Robert E. Lee Park, in addition to some spectacular sightings of beaver, otter, bald eagles and migrating waterfowl, the park has some exceptional programming:  School’s Out Days, Parents’ Night Out, Friday Strolls, Cherry Pie Hikes and the Bird Extravaganza.  For more information on these programs you can call 410-887-4156.

This winter, just how bold (and immune to cold!) are you?  Marshy Point Nature Center is sponsoring the 8th Annual Popsicle Plunge.  photo of Popsicle Plunge participantsOn Saturday, March 1st, it is your chance to get cold and wet for a great cause as you jump into the water off Rocky Point Park’s beach.  All funds raised will go to the Marshy Point Nature Center’s many activities and programs; including winter-time programs like our Speaker Series (“Save the Bees” on February 18th); Maple Sugar Time (February 15 and 16); and “Fly Tying” workshop on February 22 and 23.  For information on the Popsicle Plunge and all the winter-time programs, call 410-887-2817.

Cromwell  Valley  Park  has programs for all this winter - inside and outside, families and individuals, and for kids of all ages.   A sweet favorite is “Maple Sugaring” where you can learn to tap a tree and make maple syrup.  “Project Feeder Watch” is a project that will offer important scientific information – and it needs your help!  And, how’s this for an intriguing Adult evening out, “Night Out With Nature:  Iceman’s Last Hours”.  So much to do, so little space to share it all.  For information on these and many more Cromwell Valley Park programs, call 410-887-2503.

Oregon Ridge Nature Center is offering some hot times this winter including their delicious (and for a great cause) hot cake breakfast.  This is just a part of the ORNC winter offerings, there’s also:  Maple Sugaring, Habitats, Reptiles and Amphibians, and Arthropods on this winter’s schedule.  We’re loving this one:  “Sugar and Your Sweetheart Night Hike” on Valentine’s Day – let your imagination flow!  And for the adult nature lover:  “Trail Guide Training” will be taking place in early February to give those special folks with an inclination towards the out-of-doors  the chance to learn and lead.  This is all great stuff!  To learn more, you can call 410-887-1815.

They do winter a bit differently at the Benjamin Banneker Historical  Park and Museum and here “different” means, pretty cool stuff!  Set your sights on some great historical workshops like “Honoring African American Firsts in Baltimore County” and “Meet Molly: Ben’s Amazing Grandmother” and “Ben’s Nature Journal”.  Of course, what’s a park without great outdoor/nature themes and workshops – moss, turtles, raptors, frogs - just so much going on at Banneker, you’ve got to get in touch with them to see their incredible winter line-up.  410-887-1081.

Did you know that Nature Quest, the trek through the trails of Benjamin Banneker, Cromwell Valley, Marshy Point, Oregon Ridge and Robert E. Lee Parks continues year ‘round?  It is a great chance to see some beautiful trails, find trail markers and earn prizes –spring, summer, fall AND winter.  You can ask a ranger for a Nature Quest Booklet.  If you complete at least five trails, you will have earned admission to Nature Quest Fest!  For more information, call 410-887-4156; or the Therapeutic Office at 410-887-5370.  NatureQuest

So, what are you waiting for?  Come on out to our parks this winter  - it is still lots of fun, interesting and yes, really cool!

Walters Art Museum Off The WallContributed by Fronda Cohen
Director, Baltimore County Commission on Arts & Sciences

It was about 5:30 in the evening, near the entrance to Meadowood Regional Park at the gateway to Greenspring Valley. The park on Falls Road is especially beautiful this time of day, when the light is low over the trees and you hear the stream that runs into Jones Falls. Students and parents rounded the running track, headed to the parking lot after a game.

And there I was with my little camera. Taking a picture of a picture in a place that looks like the picture. One of the parents stopped and asked why there was a large painting in an ornate gold frame sitting in the middle of the field. 

It’s off the wall, I said.

The man took a step or two away from me. OK, but what is it and why is it here?

It’s from the Walters Art Museum. They’ve taken paintings from their collection and made high quality reproductions on waterproof canvas, then placed them in unexpected places around the community. They call it “Off the Wall,” and it’s a way to bring art closer to people and people closer to art.  Isn’t it amazing the way the painting looks so much like the park? It makes you stop for a minute and see the park and the art in a whole new way.

You know, you’re right. Pretty cool.

You can view The Catskills by 19th century artist Asher Brown Durand at Meadowood Regional Park. The Terrace at Saint-Germain, Spring by impressionist painter Alfred Sisley is at Robert E. Lee Park. Next spring, the Walters will be bringing more Off the Wall paintings to other Baltimore County locations.

Robert E. LeeEllen Kobler
Deputy Director, Baltimore County Office of Communications 

To me, the newly renovated Robert E. Lee Park feels like Baltimore County’s little slice of Central Park. It’s got a certain air of sophistication and gentility about it. Walking along Lake Roland on the paved walking paths you get such a sense of park’s history. You can almost imagine the Baltimore ladies from the 1940s in their Sunday finery pushing their baby carriages, the men trailing behind in their in their tweed three-piece suits smoking their cigars and glancing at their pocket watches.

The County recently acquired this signature park from Baltimore City and has made $6 million in significant repairs and improvements including two pedestrian bridges, a beautiful boardwalk that connects to the Falls Road Light Rail Station, upgrades to the dog park (Paw Point), significant shoreline stabilization and some general sprucing up all around the park. The makeover has done wonders for this grand urban oasis.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to immerse myself in the park’s more natural areas, hiking through the 415 acres of woodlands, exploring the serpentine barrens and rock plateaus, walking the boardwalk and, of course, launching my kayak. But there is something that feels so very civilized and relaxing about taking a quiet stroll alongside the historic dam and stone waterworks building. Maybe next time I’ll have to bring along a parasol.

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