It’s hard to tell what awaits us in 2022, and while that’s true about every year, it’s crazy true as we enter the third year of the pandemic.
Plus, in a few days, we will be observing — and certain messed-up Americans celebrating — the anniversary of the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Some describe last Jan. 6 as a practice run for the big insurrection ahead. That might be true. But we can’t let domestic terror and the potential rise of authoritarianism stop us from making personal plans. We’re Americans. We can keep our eyes on the big, looming threats to democracy and take a vigorous hike at the same time.
So I make plans, no matter what, and I encourage you to do the same. You don’t need to catch a schooner to Bali, OK? Just put some low-hanging fruit on a bucket list, and keep it regional.
Here are 30 things to do, mostly outdoors, in Maryland in 2022:
Visit Edgar Allan Poe’s grave in Westminster Burying Ground around noon on his birthday, Jan. 19, and listen to me read “The Raven” to him.
If you’ve never seen our state bird, get thee to a place this spring where birders have reported seeing Baltimore Orioles, then look for them in the trees — in Baltimore at Druid Hill Park, Patterson Park and along Western Run in Mount Washington; in Baltimore County near Lake Roland, in Cromwell Valley Park and the Avalon section of Patapsco Valley State Park; in Howard County around Wilde Lake, Centennial Lake or Lake Elkhorn; in Harford County, at Susquehanna State Park.
Walk or run or bike the Lake Montebello loop in Baltimore.
Carry a collection of Mary Oliver’s poetry up Backbone Mountain Trail to the highest point in Maryland — it’s not much (just 3,360 feet above sea level), but it’s ours — and sit at the picnic table up there and read Oliver’s poems. In the collection called “Swan,” there’s one that begins, “Sometimes I grow weary of the days, with all their fits and starts. I want to climb some old gray mountain …” Read that one.
Visit the grave of someone you adored, someone who died during the pandemic or before, and bring a Mason jar of the departed’s favorite drink. Pour two cups and drink from one, toasting the other, savoring memories and giving thanks for what the two of you had.
Go to Ferry Park, the public beach at Rock Hall on the Eastern Shore, and watch a sunset in summer.
Do the same from Federal Hill in Baltimore in the fall.
Give yourself a lesson in the U.S. Constitution by reading, “American Epic,” an excellent 274-page book written a decade ago by Garrett Epps, professor of law emeritus at the University of Baltimore. Then give the book, anonymously if you must, to someone who believes Donald Trump won the 2020 election, with a note: “Before you sign up for the next insurrection, you might want to read this.”
If you’ve never been, visit the Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge in Kent County, where the Chester River meets the Chesapeake. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service almost closed the place in 2018 due to lack of funds. You might think that’s just as well, the fewer humans hiking, hunting and paddling in such wondrous places, the better. But without public support, the feds can more easily justify cutting funds and closing gates, and the right (or wrong) president could remove protections and open public lands to bidders. It happened in Trump time. It could happen again.
Here’s a foodie carryout order for 2022:
- The Neighborhood Bird Bun from Ekiben
- Meatballs from Joe Benny’s
- Salumi e funghi pizza at Noona’s
- The shrimp laing at Heritage Kitchen in Whitehall Mill
- The rare beef pho at Mekong Delta Cafe
- The roasted chicken dinner from Marie Louise Bistro
- Fried oysters at Gertrude’s
- A dozen Poppay’s Rolls from the Avenue Bakery
- Any of the special spicy rolls at Yama Sushi
- The Vegetariana empanada at Andina
- The Porketta sub from DiPasquale’s
- The Spruce Tip Scottish ale (seasonal) from AleCraft in Bel Air
- The fried fish sandwich at Nick’s Grandstand Grill & Crabhouse in Timonium
- And let’s organize a Saturday taco crawl from Highlandtown to Fells Point.
In spring, make sure to check for the chicken barbecue schedule at the Orleans Volunteer Fire Department in Allegany County.
Pick your own blueberries at Frog Eye Farm in Washington County.
Put some time and effort into researching the electric cars and trucks on the market — or coming on the market — and become earnest about buying one.
In mid-April, take a train to Washington and visit the Lincoln Memorial. Carry with you Walt Whitman’s “Sequel to Drum-Taps” so that you can read two poems on the steps of the memorial: “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d” and “O Captain! My Captain!”
Back in Baltimore, leave a Lincoln penny on a Booth headstone in Green Mount Cemetery.
When snow is in the forecast and comes overnight, rise early and read, “The Dead,” by James Joyce — if not all of it, then certainly the final passage, after the moment when Gretta hears someone singing the song Michael Furey once sang to her.
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After a decent snowfall, find a sledding hill, wait for some kids to pack it with their snow tubes and saucers, then try sailing down on a shower curtain.