IN THIS, my first Elkridge-Ellicott City community column, I'd like to introduce myself by talking about peepers.
Peepers are the small tree frogs that produce nature's first chorus in spring.
Most years, on an evening in late February or early March, a few peepers begin tuning up.
Gradually, as the weather warms, full peeper choruses join in the evening concerts.
The concerts rival the sound of crickets in August.
Almost 40 years ago, my father dug a small pond behind our house where a natural spring flowed. This pond, less than 50 feet from the house, has always been the source of magnificent choruses of peepers.
The peepers remind me of my childhood -- growing up in Elkridge when it was a small, tight-knit community.
As children, we tramped through the woods, built tree forts, fought acorn wars and played in the plentiful creeks, streams and ponds.
Some played baseball at the Elkridge Youth Organization, some volunteered at the Elkridge Volunteer Fire Department or held square dances at our community hall.
We took long bike rides and played endlessly in each other's yards through the summer. My father, his walking stick in hand, led us from our home for our Sunday afternoon excursions.
And when my son was younger, I led a group of small boys down to my father's pond to catch peepers.
Neither Elkridge nor Ellicott City are small towns now, but they do have deep roots -- and character.
I want to encourage a chorus of community voices to call me with your stories and information that I can share to enhance our community's life.
Conrad Brookhart and Todd DeCrispino, physical education teachers at Elkridge Elementary School, organized a "Winter Olympics" event Feb. 25, 26 and 27.
Each class represented a different country and competed for gold, silver or bronze points.
Events included the luge (scooter-boards navigating around cones), ice hockey (indoor floor hockey), cross country skiing (using carpet squares as skis), two-man bobsled (scooter-boards with partners), a snow ball toss (cotton thrown through hula hoops) and curling.
Spain (Tammy Fastman's class) finished first and was followed by Greenland (Donna Linkow's team) and Japan (Mimi Chiarella's class).
Tuning their fiddles
The string students of Mayfield Woods, Elkridge Landing and Harper's Choice middle schools are tuning up their fiddles for a Country Hoedown.
The program will be held from 7: 30 p.m. to 8: 15 p.m. Thursday in the Mayfield Woods Middle School cafeteria.
A rhythm section jam, featuring teachers Dave Smith, Valerie Lawrence, Christie Adams and Rob White will begin at 7 p.m.
Lawrence and student soloists will play a tune or two on her white electric violin.
Ready for dancing?
St. Alphonsus Roman Catholic Church is holding its first St. Patrick's Dance from 8 p.m. to midnight Saturday at the church hall, 10800 Old Court Road, Woodstock.
The event will include music spun by a disc jockey, dancing and an Irish sing-along -- including such favorites as "Who Put the Overalls in Mrs. Murphy's Chowder," "My Wild Irish Rose" and "When Irish Eyes are Smiling."
Tickets are $10 and include beer, wine, pretzels, chips and a door prize.
Groups can reserve a table for eight. Call 410-465-1949.
Shakespeare at bookstore
On March 17, the Shakespeare Club of Ellicott Mills Middle School will perform a medley of Shakespearean works at Barnes and Noble Booksellers in the Long Gate Shopping Center.
The performance will be part of a Book Fair from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The school will receive a portion of proceeds from book sales during the fair.
The money will be used to support PTA programs.
A disc jockey from radio 102.7 WXYV will provide music for the fair.
A Victorian Tea, held by the Friends of the Patapsco Female Institute on March 1 at Mount Ida -- the historic mansion that serves as the Institute's visitors center -- was sold out.
Some 50 people attended.
Attendees played parlor games and were served tea to the accompaniment of hammer dulcimer music performed by Courtney Thomas.
Thomas, a resident of Cumberland, is serving as Miss Central State. Her dulcimer performances are part of her community service.
Three Howard countians from our neighborhood returned from the Winter Games held by Special Olympics Maryland Feb. 22 through 24 at the Wisp Resort Hotel in Garrett County.
Elkridge resident Stephanie Baker won two silver medals and Lisa Parrish, from Ellicott City, won a gold and a silver in Nordic (cross country skiing) events.
Ricky Wheeler, also from Elkridge, won a silver medal and a ribbon in the Alpine (downhill skiing) competition.
Books, puppets, toys
Children 6 and older are invited to welcome Josefina, the newest "American Girl" in the well-known series of books about girls from other times.
Josefina is an Hispanic girl from the early 1800s, and the heroine of a series of books by author Valerie Tripp, including "Meet Josefina," "Josefina Learns a Lesson, and "Josefina's Surprise."
The program will be held at 1: 30 p.m. and 4: 30 p.m. March 17 at the Elkridge Branch Library and includes readings from the books, crafts and music.
The early session has been scheduled to accommodate home-schoolers.
Registration will begin at 10 a.m. today.
Puppet show planned
Dramatizing stories is a specialty of Shree Patidar Samaj, a local Indian youth group.
These young people will present a puppet show, "The Adventures of Rama," at 2: 30 p.m. Saturday at the Miller branch library.
Rama is an incarnation, in human form, of the Hindu deity, Vishnu.
The show lasts about 45 minutes. Registration can be done in person or by calling 410-313-1955.
The library also offers an important resource for very young children: a collection of toys for those from infancy to age 3.
The toys are designed to promote cooperative play and develop coordinated movement and thinking skills.
The American Field Service Fruit Sale features pink grapefruit and temple oranges. Orders must be received by Friday.
Pickup will be from 9 a.m. to noon March 21 at Mount Hebron High School.
The sale supports the Mount Hebron chapter of the American Field Service student exchange program.
The Ellicott Mills Middle School PTA will present a program "Creating Resilience in Modern Families, Part III" from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. March 16 at the school, 4445 Montgomery Road.
The program is open to parents, students, staff and families.
Call 410-313-2839 for information.
Pub Date: 3/09/98