Several weeks ago, I began a trip back in time. Actually, I've just been house-sitting. It's my parents' house, the one I grew up in near Marriottsville, out in what was once considered the hinterlands of Howard County.
My parents asked me to stay here while they vacationed in Florida. It has been a vacation of sorts for me, too. Although I visit my parents often, this is the first time in nearly 30 years that I've slept in the house where I spent my childhood.
I agreed to house sit because my father, fearful of the populace slowly marching westward, building housing developments, worried about the safety of his home.
My mother, I suspect, was more fearful for the well-being of her plants than of the new neighbors whose houses dot a nearby treeless plain that only a year ago was rugged, rolling woodlands. The development is more than a quarter-mile away, but at night, its lights look deceptively close.
To my parents, they serve only as a constant reminder of an inevitability Bob Dylan recognized when he sang "the times, they are a'changin'." For better or worse, the face of Howard County is changing, too.
As I lay in bed at night, I realized how much I've missed the solitude of the country. I had forgotten how quiet and peaceful it is here. And, although civilization is not far away now, for the moment at least, this house and the few acres of land surrounding it remain an island of splendid isolation in what is often a harsh and discordant world.
So, who says you can't go home again?
Despite cutbacks and closings by other libraries around the state, the Howard County Library system continues to grow and expand its services. This can be done, in large part, because of a volunteer support base provided by an informed community, which is well aware of the importance of a strong library.
The Howard County Library is looking for grandparents and older adults who are interested in volunteering for the Library Grandparent Program. The purpose of the program, designed for 2- and 3-year-old children, is to bring young and old together for the reading of stories and storytelling, and for the elders to share their childhood experiences with the youngsters.
The spring program at the central branch is called "Hats Off To Spring." Those interested in volunteering are encouraged to attend a planning session at the Central Library from 10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. Wednesday, March 10. For more information, call 313-7825.
Volunteer application forms, for this and other volunteer programs, may be obtained at any Howard County Library branch, or by calling Louise Riemer, Head of Volunteer Services, at 313-7918.
Starting tomorrow, the Slayton House Gallery will offer a new art exhibit, "Four Realists." The exhibit of oils, watercolors, pastels and charcoals represent the work of Phyllis Fitzpatrick, Margaret Greene Jones, Arden Schatz and Barbara Schatz. The exhibit, filling both the Bill White Room Galleries and the Lobby, will remain through April 12.
An opening day reception will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, and the public is welcome to attend.
Are you uptight? Tired and listless? Emotionally stressed out?
If so, Howard County General Hospital is offering an alternative method of coping with these problems.
A two-part program will introduce people to "The Power of Massage." Sessions will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays, March 12 and 19, in the Health Education Center.
According to HCGH spokeswoman, Nadine Pfaffman, this program is designed specifically for couples.
"The program focuses on the power of touch," she says. "It teaches basic massage techniques as a means to relax and to temporarily relieve pain and emotional stress."
Mrs. Pfaffman notes the program has been very popular.
"It usually fills up pretty fast," she says. "In fact, we only have room for 12 couples, and this session is nearly sold out."
She adds that another session is scheduled for May 7 and 14. The cost of the the Power of Massage program is $65.
For additional information, or to register, call the HCGH Health Education Center at 740-7600.
If you like country music, I mean "real" country music, the Florence Bain Center is sponsoring a trip to Branson, Mo.
Branson has been dubbed the "new country music capital of the world," supposedly pushing Nashville, Tenn., into second place.
The Missouri town is home to dozens of clubs and theaters owned by many of the biggest stars in country music, including Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Conway Twitty, Loretta Lynn and others who regularly perform in the places bearing their names.
The trip is scheduled for May 24-31, and will cost $650 per person, double occupancy.
Information: Grace Turner, 730-9045, or Helen Etowski, 465-8004.