As always at this time of year, it is difficult to believe that summer is winding down. Most residents are back in town. Schools are in session. Traffic has resumed on Roland Avenue, Cold Spring Lane and the narrow, cut-through streets in Roland Park.
Residents who have been away may notice some changes in and around Roland Park. Hurricane Irene toppled a number of large, old trees in the canopy that defines the area. Fortunately, no planned removal of mature trees occurred this summer in the neghborhood, as happened downtown for the Grand Prix. Most saplings on Falls Road near Poly-Western survived the scorching summer, thanks to water bags. That has not been the case in previous summers.
A mulch fire that destroyed half of the Leyland cypress hedge in front of Roland Park Country School precipitated a diverse redesign, by landscape architect Brian Stephenson. A low, attractive fence near the entrance replaced the old chain link. Mixed plantings of evergreen hollies, ornamental cherry and dogwood trees, native serviceberry trees and viburnums, as well as winter jasmine, day lilies and liriope now bring horticultural interest that is visible on both sides of the fence.
After looking like a wasteland during the renovation and expansion of the Loyola science building, the corner of Cold Spring Lane and Charles Street has been vastly improved. New, Hord Coplan Macht-designed plantings include mature London plane trees as well as ornamental crab apples and paper bark maples, with more to come. It's great to have new stands of trees to soften the streetscape and offset pollution at this congested intersection. New trees also help offset the large loss in Guilford from the hurricane.
Other changes in the neighborhood include the opening of the relocated Eddie Jacobs men's clothing store in the Roland Park shopping center. That venerable store occupies the north corner, where O'Malley Antiques and Baskin-Robbins most recently filled the space. (I still wish quality ice cream cones were available in this old-fashioned shopping center.)
A longtime shopping center fixture, the Roland Park Bakery & Deli, is up and running on Chestnut Avenue with all of the sandwiches and baked goods that have become owner Anita Ward's signature.
Parking garage repairs at M & T bank are at last finished. Hard to believe there's no more plastic, no more dust, no more jackhammering. All parking spaces are again open. The bank itself looks better with a bright new entrance. It even appears that plantings may soon go into the long-pathetic planters in the south wall of the garage.
After looking like a prairie in recent weeks, Centennial Park has just been mowed, but the borders are weed fields. The native plantings around the Roland Park sign could also use weeding, and the city-owned point at Cold Spring Lane and Ridgewood Road still looks like a prairie.
I have paving envy over resurfaced Roland Avenue north of Northern Parkway. I hope something happens soon on the southerly stretch, but not while schools are in session. Ditto Falls Road south of Northern Parkway and Goodwood Gardens north of Oakdale Road.
As for changes close to home, a new family has moved onto our street just as word is spreading that some of the stalwart old guard plans to leave. It is difficult to imagine Ridgewood Road without them. Since the mid-1960's, they have been responsible not only for the first Fourth of July parade and other festivities, but also for a close camaraderie that has fostered three generations of friendships.
We have few front porches on our street, but those we have are well used for gatherings that always include Ridgewood alums. These porches are still open and ready for catch-ups on all that happened over summer 2011, a summer that will long be remembered for its earthquake and hurricane.