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Ellicott City farm stand’s last stand signals summer is dwindling down | Mostly Main

Wasn’t it nice that Labor Day was as late as it could be this year? Combined with the early Memorial Day, it made for a nice, long summer. Well, pretty nice.

I talked to my son, Dave, who is such a grilling enthusiast his last charcoal purchase was for 80 pounds of the stuff. Even he was running out of grilling ideas. So we look back and look forward at this time of year. I’m still grilling and will until Halloween, but at the same time we’ve gotten the chimney cleaned and maintained in anticipation of some lovely fall fires in the fireplace.

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There are always new things you notice in the new normal. One thing I miss is the school buses. We used to have one that came up our street sounding like a train chugging along. The remarkable thing about it was, it always went by at the same time — 8:28 a.m., without fail. I’m sure parents of school-age children miss those buses a lot more than I do.

I got so used to the ease of visiting our local farm stands that I was surprised when Clark’s Elioak Farm announced its farm stand was closing Labor Day. Naturally, I rushed right over to load up on its lovely produce. I was happy to run into farmer Nora Crist, a friend who, with her mother Martha Clark, runs the entire farm operation. She reassured me that while the stand was closing, it would continue to sell produce as long as it was available at the castle entrance to the Enchanted Forest display and petting farm.

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I scored some sweet sungold tomatoes and baby eggplant among other treats, so I look forward to continuing my visits as long as I can.

Of course, I’ll continue my visits to Breezy Willow on Frederick Road at St. John’s Lane as well. They stay open all year, Thursdays through Sundays.

Ellicott City continues to excel. Recently Fodor’s Travel listed the “11 train stations so beautiful that you will never want to fly again.” Number one was the Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan, and I have to agree that it is breathtaking. My favorite part of that station is in the lower level — the Grand Central Oyster Bar has the best oyster pan roast (more like a superlative oyster stew than a roast) and wonderful atmosphere.

Coming in at No. 9 is our own B&O Railroad Museum, Ellicott City Station, described as “not the largest but certainly the oldest.” They also remark on the fact that the “hills around Ellicott City offer a web of hiking trails.” And we don’t have to travel to enjoy them! The Railroad Museum, along with the Fire House Museum, the Ellicott City Colored School, Restored and the Patapsco Female Institute are open with free admission. Check the Howard County Government website for hours of operation.

As if that weren’t recognition enough, Niche.com has named the 200 best places to live in Maryland and both Ellicott City at No. 4 and Columbia at No. 10 are in the top 10. Not too shabby. Criteria included the quality of the schools, the crime rate, housing trends, employment statistics and access to amenities. We’re lucky and we know it, and now everyone else does too.

The Howard County Conservancy has announced its School’s Out Nature Programs. These will occur on Wednesdays and on some days when school is not in session. Activities include educational games, activities and crafts emphasizing the wonders of the natural world. The program is geared to students ages 6 to 10 and runs from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The cost is $70 per child. Another program being offered by the conservancy will be held at 11 a.m. Friday on the conservancy’s Facebook page. Titled “Capturing and displaying denizens of Mt. Pleasant,” instructor Gregg Petersen will give pointers on photographing birds and bugs. For more information about either of these programs, call 410-465-8877.

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