Residents of South Laurel can realize New Year's fitness and cultural resolutions close to home

Now that the holiday season is behind us and the new year waits ahead, it is time to revisit our new year's resolutions and see how close we are to implementing them. Of particular relevance to our Montpelier/South Laurel community are promises made to increase our activity level and to enhance our cultural lives. On the activity front, the South Laurel Recreation Council has several classes starting this week. The classes include African dance, chess, crochet, Pilates, yoga and Tai Chi. Registration information is available by calling 301-776-2805, by using a SmartLink account at or in person at the Deerfield Run Community Center, 13000 Laurel Bowie Road.

If your interest is more in the fine motor skills arena, check out classes offered at the Montpelier Arts Center. These offerings include a woodcarving master workshop for participants ages 16 and up, and adult classes in ceramics, painting, rug hooking, digital photography and writing. For children, the center offers painting, animation, illustration and photography, as well as several other areas of focus. To register or for more information, go to or call 301-377-7800.

If your preference is in viewing the art created by others, set aside Friday, Feb. 3 from 7 to 9 p.m. to attend the opening and reception for performance artist Natalia Panfile. Videos of past performances will be shown, and in addition Natalia will be performing "Food for Thought," an endurance piece. There is no fee for this event.

Also coming up at the Montpelier Arts Center is the latest Dinner and a Movie offering on Saturday, Jan. 21 at 6 p.m. The film this time is "Persepolis," an animated autobiography by artist Marjane Satrapi. The film depicts her life growing up in an Iran impacted by regime change and cultural shift. A Persian meal will be served prior to viewing the film. Tickets for both dinner and the film are $25 and must be purchased by noon Friday, Jan. 20. Tickets for the film only are available for $10 on the day of screening. Seating is limited and film-only tickets may not always be available. Seniors (60 and over) and arts center members receive a 10 percent discount. Call Montpelier Arts Center at 301-377-7800 to purchase tickets with either Visa or MasterCard.

Ties which bind neighbors together as a community were evident on our cul-de-sac last week. Neighbors new to the circle, as well as those who have lived here for almost 40 years, had a rollicking time at our third-annual pot luck gathering. Two years ago, after a huge snow storm left us stranded, neighbors helped shovel each other out and created a round-about in the center of the circle so that we could all get up the hill. That community shoveling effort lasted well into the night. We decided then that we should get to know each other better, even during less stressful times. Thus began our annual neighborhood gathering. Fortunately, the snow has not been the cause for the gathering this year (at least not yet).

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