Monday was my last free day before the start of a new semester, so after finishing up some syllabi (syllabuses?) it was most assuredly time to take a bike ride. I headed north and east toward Lake Montebello to do some easy laps with the rest of the Mondays-off crowd. I rode through sprinklers and past geese having their afternoon snacks, followed the sign to Morgan State only to hit a dead end 45 seconds later (construction, always with the construction), and after a third lap got off the trail and onto the street to explore the neighborhood. And then I was in Clifton Park, pedaling through the golf course and popping out at this little garden at the edge of Harford Road. I got off my bike and pushed it up the stone steps to check out this tiny park and sit on a bench. The park was dedicated in 1926 and has fallen into disrepair and been resurrected many times as the city park commission relinquished responsibility. Now it’s in the hands of the group Friends of Mother’s Garden, a public-private partnership that is doing a wonderful job, given the appearance of the place on this Monday in August; putting maintenance in private hands means the park only looks like this as long as individual folks care to keep it looking like this, and over the past almost 90 years private park care has come and gone. A lot. Why can’t we have a collective commitment to keep this park up, like we do with other parks–or do we? It’s a worry, this part where we’ve abdicated our collective, shared spaces and resources. And then on the ride home I ended up in the maze called Guilford, structurally cut off from the “other” side of Greenmount. Their fancy park doesn’t have to worry about falling into disrepair–I mean, look at the mansions surround the place. No way are those folks going to run out of cash to keep this place up. I got lost and found again in that weird wonderland of rich folks and then it was down the hill to home, another summer in the bag. Fortunately the weather will stay lovely for a long late summer and fall of riding my bike around.
There is much pleasure in starting a park or community improvement project. Maintaining it over time…not so much. Different set of work.
I am hoping to do the same thing with the Patterson Family Graveyard. It’s not being loved enough.