How do you measure success? This last snow brought birds from everywhere to our feeders, and to our delight we even saw -- wonder of wonders -- a downy woodpecker.
Three and a half years ago, when we moved into our "bald" lot that did not even sport grass, we would have been happy to see a robin. So we set out planting, with high hopes and steady purpose, a "nature center" that would delight the eye as well as wildlife.
It would appear that we have succeeded. Bird song resounds about the house, rabbits hop, merrily eluding the dog, and each summer the praying mantises sneak through the flower beds.
Do you want your children to shriek with delight over the season's first swallowtail butterfly, chase the rabbits and trill with the birds?
It can be done, and I will be teaching a class, "Gardening for Wildlife," March 30 at Piney Run Park Nature Center at 7:30 to help you get started.
It's free, so drop everything and come. Information: 795-6043.
It really is spring.
Leigh Johnston, a member of Messiah Lutheran Church, is planning the Strawberry Festival to be held at the church June 5th.
"Each year the festival gets bigger than the year before," Ms. Johnston said. "Last year we had more than 4,000 people. The way it looks right now, this year we're going to have more activities than ever."
There is still time to arrange for a booth if you'd like to sell your crafts. This is also a good time for Scouts or others looking for a chance to do some community service to get involved, for there are plenty of enjoyable tasks that need to be done.
"We need people to staff some of the activities, and we need people to pick strawberries," Ms. Johnston said. "And if some group -- we're really interested in musicians -- would like to perform, we'd still like to hear from them."
Anyone who would like to know more about the festival to arrange a booth or other activity, or to volunteer in any capacity, can reach Ms. Johnston at 795-0494 or call the church at 795-9174.
Will the weather cooperate? The 11th annual $20,000 Fishing Tournament, sponsored by the MRPA (Maryland Recreation and Parks Association), which ordinarily would have taken place last Saturday, was scheduled this year for April 3.
"We scheduled the tournament for the first Saturday in April to try to get some good weather for the anglers," said Jo Anne Hunter, manager at Piney Run Park. "Traditionally, there is terrible weather for the tournament."
The terrible weather has never yet stopped the eager anglers, although it has detracted from the fun of trying to snag that tagged striped bass worth $10,000.
"A lot of the fishermen think we must 'feed the fish up' so it won't bite that day," said Don Smith, MRPA member, "but of course we don't.
"Actually we have insurance to pay the prizes, which costs us the same whether the fish is caught or not, so we'd be as happy as anyone else to see that fish come in at the end of the day."
Want to take your chance? There are lots of tagged fish, worth from $100 to $10,000, that you can catch. This year, for the first time, there will be transportation for shore anglers via the pontoon boat for only $2 for the day.
"Sometimes we'll see a fish tagged last year, or some other year, come in," Mr. Smith said. "It's still worth money, but only if you catch it on tournament day."
You must be registered to win any of the prizes. Registration forms are available at Piney Run Park or from the MRPA, and registration will, if places are available, be open at the start of the tournament April 3.
Call Piney Run Park, 795-3274, or MRPA, 536-4400, for information and a registration form.