I’ve always considered the first weekend in May to be the real beginning of spring in Maryland. By now most trees have leafed out and warmer weather is a bit more predictable. Yesterday Mama Wordbones put her tomato plants in the ground believing that the danger of frost is now behind us.
Once I finished with my yard boy duties I took Peanut and her friend Sarah for a hike to Hell House. Ever since I had taken them up to Buzzard Rock earlier this spring they had been asking me to take them to Hell House. Peanut had been telling her friend some of the things she learned about the site of the former seminary in a book called Weird Maryland.
This was the first time I ever encountered other people up there. There was a young family, a group of twentysomethings and two young ladies, one of whom seemed to know quite a bit about the property.
“It’s a shame what the teenagers did to this property,” she said.
I believe she was referring to fire that destroyed the main building back in 1997. I don’t think anyone was ever charged in that incident so the comment that teenagers were involved is a bit presumptuous. Still, the abundance of graffiti and other signs of revelry suggest that she might not be too far off the mark. She did tell us that the Maryland Department of Natural Resources now owns the land and has for the past two years.
After we came back down the hill we headed over to my old neighborhood in Town Center for the annual Derby Day party. Roughly ten years ago, my then neighbor Kirk Christopher and I hosted a Cinco de Mayo afternoon picnic for our neighbors. We pulled our grills out into the parking lot and Kirk made up a big bucket of sangria. Coincidentally, that particular Saturday was also Derby Day. We decided to put the names of each of the horses on paper slips in a jar. Anyone who ponied up five bucks could draw a name from the jar and the pot was divvied up for win, place and show. The running of the race a little after six was the perfect way to wrap up the party.
Ten years later the Cinco de Mayo party is now the Derby party, though the sangria tradition remains. Even though I moved away four years ago I still make it point to return for this annual gathering and while there are a few new faces it still feels very much like home.
The horse I picked was Dean’s Kitten. He finished 14th.