The annual lighting of the Washington Monument on Mount Vernon Square took place on Thursday. It was a perfect December night for it: clear and crisp with a holiday feeling.
Many years my husband and I have gone. This year we stayed put at home and installed most of our electric candles in the windows. On the longest days of the year, those lights cheer us up inside the house. We hope they do the same for others around us.
One year we were late in putting them up, and a neighbor asked if were going to do it. Ever since, I’ve tried to pull them out from under the eaves right after Thanksgiving.
Last night, crawling under desks, sofas and beds to thread the cords (which I now leave on candles year round and mark with which plug it goes in), I thought of neighbors’ lights I count on seeing. The Maclays’ big star on in a third-floor window, the O’Briens’ pair of lighted trees on their porch, the Macsherrys’ and Daniels’ white lights wrapped artistically around leafless ornamental tree branches, the Lords’-now-Thomas’ towering spruce with multi-colored lights, for years have brought beauty to the blocks around our house.
When twisting the light bulbs on, I thought also of human bright lights missing from the neighborhood this season: Anne Healy, the beloved and longtime headmistress of Roland Park Country School; our across-the-street neighbor Bob Green; John Corckran, who grew up on St. John’s Road; lifelong neighborhood resident Blair Barton, longtime St. David’s Day School art teacher and Roland Park resident Jill Palkovitz; Agnes Bradley, the cheerful mother of two of my RPCS schoolmates; and former Cross Keys resident Harriett Little.
When I went out of the parking garage on Deepdene Road Thursday, I saw a woman in front of Gundy’s, and thought, “Oh, there’s Blair,” just before I remembered she is gone. At the light at Gittings and Bellona, I jumped when I saw a station wagon identical to the one owned by Agness Bond, who died three years ago.
In many ways, those no longer physically alive are still with us. Certainly, our parents and grandparents, whose pictures, possessions and generosity are with us daily, but also Roland Park neighbors whose faces and actions brightened the city for many years.