Looking back on my first year in Harford County [Commentary]

It's hard to imagine, but I really have worked for a full year here in Harford County.

Jan. 22, 2014, marked the first anniversary of when I reported to The Baltimore Sun's massive Sun Park printing facility for orientation.


As I write this, memories flood back to me, and through Facebook, I have a nice little electronic archive to confirm dates and places.

I remember getting out of my car in the Sun Park lot and being hit by a blast of cold air, something that did not happen often during my five-and-a-half year sojourn in North Carolina, which I have written about before in this space.


The cold had not abated by the time I left the orientation an hour and a half later, and I checked the weather on my iPhone, which told me it was 19 degrees.

Say whaaaaaaaat!!!!

I quickly captured a screen grab of the weather display and posted it to my personal Facebook page with just one word of commentary: "Seriously?!"

It was as if a cold air mass had settled over Maryland just to welcome me home and remind me that I was not in the South anymore.

About two weeks prior, I was covering a U.S. senator's visit to Kinston, N.C. It was sunny and mild as I and fellow members of the media waited for her, and I saw a bird flitting about a tree close by.

The news photography bug had already bitten me by that point and was starting to work its way under my skin – where it remains burrowed and will hopefully not be dislodged any time soon – and I ran around the tree, trying to get the bird from a good angle with my iPhone camera.

I snapped what I thought was a good photo of the bird, and posted it to Facebook with the words "Gonna miss these N.C. winters that feel like spring!"

I can see the steady flakes of the third or fourth snowstorm of 2014 from my living room windows; I take some solace in knowing that my many friends in North Carolina had the same pleasure of experiencing the recent "polar vortex" and "son of the polar vortex," plus the near-zero temps that came with it.

I hope this latest storm will pass them by; we missed last week's ice storm, but they and many other residents of the southeastern states got it full in the face.

Ice with snow on top is no joke, but in reading some of the Facebook posts from friends, there were times when I wanted to say, "Look, folks, the world is not coming to an end; do not go out unless you need to, and if you do, drive carefully."

It has been quite a year getting reacclimated to the culture and weather of Baltimore and Maryland.

The Baltimore Ravens were on their way to the Super Bowl when I got back to The Old Line State last year; they actually won the conference title the Sunday I arrived at my parents' home in Baltimore.


I spent Super Bowl Sunday 2013 in downtown Bel Air – in the snow – making my way between the Main Street Tower Restaurant and the former Dark Horse Saloon, talking to fans as they cheered on the Ravens, who were victorious over the San Francisco 49ers.

There was a point late in the game when a Ravens victory did not seem like a sure thing, and fans were either pacing around the bar or putting their heads down at the prospect of a loss.

As we all know, the Ravens pulled it off, and it was a grand celebration. I had the pleasure of being at a Bel Air-area sporting goods store at 1 a.m. with Ravens fans belting out "Seven Nation Army."

While I was disappointed the Ravens did not make it back to the big game this year, it was nice to spend the 2014 Super Bowl at home, with hot wings.

It has been quite a year, for me and Harford County. I have watched school board members put painful budget measures in place such as "pay to play" fees, county leaders debate storm water fees and the local backlash over stricter gun control measures passed at the state level.

I have also spoken to everyday people in Harford and Cecil counties who have endured unimaginable losses, from people who went on vacation and came home to find their house burned down, to parents who lost their young son in a shooting involving a sheriff's deputy.

I wrote about Harford County residents who fought in the Battle of Gettysburg 150 years ago, and in one afternoon, learned more about the history of Harford County than I ever knew.

I have learned that you can spend nearly a decade writing newspaper articles, and discover there are still things to be learned about the craft of writing.

I have especially enjoyed the opportunities I have here at The Aegis to take photographs for stories; it is awesome to see my pictures online and in the pages of the print edition.

I learn something with every picture I take.

Thanks for a great year, Harford County!

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