Birdsville is rather like the fabled land of Oz: It's all green and after a few hours, you wonder if it really exists.
A highway sign says "Birdsville," so you think the community must be there . . . somewhere in this patch of verdant farms in South County.
But not even a post office verifies that hope. And the residents,though charming, aren't exactly bursting with Birdsville spirit.
Old-timers way down in South County scratch their heads and point youup the road apiece when you inquire about their town.
A man mowing his grass says, well, maybe this used to be Birdsville but now it'sHarmon. He recommends you go another mile or so, to the sign that says "Davidsonville," and turn right. That's Birdsville Road, he says. There's an old store at the end of that road, and it's been around a long time. They might know some Birdsville lore.
At the store, a friendly manager says, well, you oughtta talk to the owner, she might know, but really this is Davidsonville. What you want to do is go back to Route 2 and look for Old Birdsville Road.
On Old Birdsville Road, a gentleman smiles -- kindly, compassionately -- and suggests getting back on Route 2 (called Solomon's Island Road this far south).
Back on Route 2, some trainers at a horse farm have plenty of county history at hand, but none about Birdsville.
And so it goes, in this small green stretch along Ritchie Highway.
The sole ancient landmark is the church, All Hallows' Eve Episcopal, a red-brick structure dating to 1692. Daisies and faded gravestones haphazardly decorate the hills around the church.
Just as you see the church, you'll see the "Birdsville" sign, a mile's worth of horse farms, lovely empty patches of hilly fields dotted with wildflowers, a house, barns.
Before you know it, you've been and gone.
MANIACS, JERKS AND THE PERFECT DRIVER
When I'm behind the wheel, I often think of comedian George Carlin's observation: Anybody driving faster is a "maniac" and anyone driving slower is a "jerk."
That's it. Three kinds of drivers. Maniacs, jerks and, clocking in at 65 mph, me.
That joke came to mind the other day while southbound on Route 3 near Dorsey Road. As I was busy passing the jerks and cursing the maniacs, I noticed a state trooper had pulled over a car on the northbound side of the highway.
The driver of the car, judging by her headgear, appeared to be a nun.
My thoughts then turned to a recently published book by aformer New York state trooper. In the book, the former trooper handsout advice on how to avoid traffic tickets and how to talk your way out of one if you are stopped by police. I wondered whether the nun would trot out a sure loser
like, "I was late for work" (or, maybe,late for Mass).
Judging by the book, the best bet seems to be to tell the cop you have to go to the bathroom. Bad. I wondered whether the nun tried that one.
But unless she really did have to go, I doubt the nun would try a lie. And I doubt the nun in the blue K-car had been driving like a maniac.
No, my guess is she was driving likethe rest of us, probably cruising up the divided highway at a comfortable 65 or so. That's how fast the great majority seems to drive. 65.
Apparently, the governor of the state of Maryland has had his nose buried in "paperwork" while being chauffeured around lately. Judging by his veto of a bill that would have raised the speed limit on some rural stretches of interstate (but not Route 3), the governor believes law-abiding folks like driving 55.
That is unless he doesn't believe laws are for the people -- and by the people, who, in my mind, have clearly voted with their gas pedals.
One other thing: the former trooper's book confirms our suspicions that you are more likelyto get a ticket near the end of the month, when lazy cops have to hustle to meet their quota.
The nun was pulled over May 28.
WHERE HAVE I READ THIS BEFORE?
What do the Naval Academy newspaper, Trident, and the magazine Annapolitan have in common?
Newell is a Navy lieutenant who pounds the keyboard in the academy's public relations office. He writes lots of stuff for the Trident, which acknowledges in his byline that he is a PR flack. No problem.
In the May 24 issue of the newspaper, Newell wrote a front-page story about graduation that began: "It was just a few weeks into Plebe Summer '87 when the first story about the Class of 1991 was born . . ."
It goes on to tell the tale of the 965 mids who made it through the grueling four-year program and the changes they saw. Nice story. Lots of character.
But wait, where had we read that story before? Was itlast year's account updated? No.
Were we confusing it with the rollicking narrative of West Point's Class of 1991? No.
Did we see it in the Annapolitan earlier in the month? Yesssssss!
Word for word. Anecdote for anecdote. It's all there.
Confusion cleared up. Well, almost.