It's been a long, hot summer, but residents of Hernwood Heights in Randallstown have always had shade.
"When you turn into our street, Sheraton Road, I think the temperature goes down 10 degrees," Shirley Balfour said. "It's like turning into a whole other world off Liberty Road."
Tall oaks line the street that leads into the quiet neighborhood marked by low, brick columns at entrances on Liberty and Marriottsville roads.
Residents are proud of their greenery, which is thick enough in LTC spots to attract wildlife.
Manny Chico, 48, who moved with his family from Long Island, N.Y., to Burr Oak Court 13 years ago, said he has seen red-tailed hawks, red fox and deer in his back yard.
"It has a rustic type of natural beauty," said Richard T. Adams, a 14-year resident of Millstone Road.
"This neighborhood is so nice. I'm holding my breath and praying every night it stays like it is," said Mr. Adams, a retired federal government administrator and assistant pastor at a Baltimore Baptist church.
Mr. Adams lives with his wife, Judith Jackson Adams; his 28-year-old son, Jason; and his 94-year-old mother-in-law, Minnie Jackson. The family moved to the neighborhood from Forest Park in Baltimore so that Minnie Jackson could live in a one-story house, he said.
The first homes in Hernwood Heights were built 30 to 35 years ago, residents said. The community includes about 200 single-family homes, most set back from the street with trees shading each lot. It is about five miles outside the Baltimore Beltway.
There is a mix of younger and older families. Mr. Chico and his wife, Wendy, 44, describe the community as "established." They have three children, ages 13 to 18.
Mr. Chico, a supervisory computer specialist at the Social Security Administration in Woodlawn, said his neighbors include doctors, lawyers, a real estate agent and other Social Security employees. Several people commute to Washington, about an hour's drive.
Children have a short walk or ride to Hernwood Elementary on Marriottsville Road.
"It's a quiet, middle-class neighborhood with working and retired people," said John J. Balfour, who raised his family there with his wife, Shirley, and has stayed 11 years into his retirement. Mr. Adams, who rides his bicycle through the neighborhood every morning at 7, said he notices the passage of time.
"I hate to say it, but it's kind of an aging community. You see these silver-haired ladies out cutting grass," he said.
Residents tend to stay put in Hernwood Heights; only 10 homes were sold in the last 12 months, according to the Mid-Atlantic Real Estate Information Technologies' multiple-listing service.
About 10 houses currently are on the market. Some of the people who move away are older couples who don't want to keep up a house anymore, Mrs. Chico said.
They usually are replaced by younger families and people of different ethnic backgrounds, including Koreans, Chinese, Japanese and blacks, residents said.
"It's a mixed community, which is what we wanted our kids to grow up in," Mrs. Chico said.
The neighborhood is not far from several shopping areas. Owings Mills Town Center is four miles northeast, Carrolltowne Shopping Center is several miles to the west across Liberty Reservoir and Columbia is a 20-minute drive.
"Where we are, it's easy to go different ways," Mr. Chico said.
Safety is a concern in the neighborhood. The Hernwood Heights Community Association is doing what it can to help make sure the area stays safe.
Mrs. Chico and others started a "Citizens on Patrol" in April. They formed the group as a preventive measure, she said. Some homes have been broken into, but crime is not a major worry, she said. About 50 people are involved in patrolling the neighborhood in cars and on foot, at night and during the day.
"It's brought a lot of people closer," Mrs. Chico said.
"It gets people talking to each other," her husband added.
The community association received a $1,000 grant from the Baltimore County Police Department to buy two-way radios and an illuminated sign to be placed on top of a resident's car when patrolling.
"The best time to start a neighborhood watch is before you have a lot of crime," said Mr. Adams, recording secretary for the community association.
The association works to keep neighbors in touch. Mrs. Chico, corresponding secretary, writes a monthly newsletter from September to June. Every year, the group distributes a community directory listing the residents alphabetically and by street address. It also lists new residents.
Neighbors throw a few annual get-togethers, usually at Halloween and Christmas, Mrs. Chico said. One year, residents threw an ethnic dinner feast, her husband said.
Mr. Adams does his part to foster a friendly spirit in the neighborhood. He said he often walks along his street setting garbage cans upright so they won't be run over by a car.
"I just hope and pray this community maintains itself," Mr. Adams said.
Population estimate: 557
Commuting time to Baltimore: 25 minutes
Commuting time to Washington: 1 hour
Public schools: Hernwood Elementary, Deer Park Middle, Randallstown High
Shopping: King's Point Square, with Fair Lanes Bowling, Rite Aid, Goodwill and other stores; Marriottsville Shopping Center, with a weekend flea market; Randallstown Plaza with Giant Food; Carrolltowne Shopping Center in Eldersburg, with Super Fresh, Peebles and Kmart
Nearest mall: Owings Mills Town Center, about 4 miles away
Points of interest: Soldiers Delight Natural Environmental Area; Patapsco Valley State Park; Liberty Dam at Liberty Reservoir; Liberty Road Volunteer Fire Co.
ZIP code: 21133
Average price for single-family home*: $144,190 (10 units sold)
* Average price for homes sold through the Mid-Atlantic Real Estate Information Technologies' multiple listing service in the past 12 months