Familiar signs of summer: Druid Hill picnics, produce, snowballs

Jacques Kelly

June 17, 1991|By Jacques Kelly

Speaking of the weather, I've noticed:

The temperature numbers on the Pepsi Cola sign on the Jones Falls Expressway in Woodberry change, but they always seem to begin with the digit 9.

This is the summer that the brick walls and stainless-steel letters of Memorial Stadium have become the city's largest background for picture taking. I'd like to have a quarter for every snapshot posed with this landmark in the distance.

People who say that family picnics in city parks are a thing of the past need only to look at Druid Hill or Herring Run. Pass the potato salad.

Does K-Mart have any more of the poor man's Ocean City -- an inflatable plastic swimming pool in a backyard?

It's reassuring that Baltimoreans have not become indifferent t the tall ships' seasonal arrival. The reappearance of the canvas and rigging found the Inner Harbor and Fells Point jumping long after midnight. The water taxis worked overtime and still turned away passengers.

There's a tone of blue in the old-fashioned hydrangea bushes all over Forest Park, Brooklyn and Waverly that reminds me of summer even more than this year's bumper crop of lightning bugs.

A plastic sign at a seafood house at Pratt and Monroe streets advises, "Crabs improve your sex life."

The lawns at Fort McHenry are so dry the grass is the color and texture of sandpaper. Still, it's the greatest place in town to catch a breeze.

The fat bees swarm around the old-fashioned gardens o Rueckert Avenue off Harford Road in Lauraville.

Whereas Howard and Lexington streets was once an address of numerous shops and department stores, it's now an outdoor marketplace, overflowing with street vendors and push carts.

The phone message at Huber's produce stand in Bradshaw requests, "Pray for rain." Alas, it's so dry, the early peas and the strawberry crop had to be ploughed under. Sob. No pick-it-yourself for these crops. Collards, kale and chard are available.

Has anybody noticed that the new Kent Narrows Bridge and U.S. 50 overpasses move summer traffic along nicely, as promised? I'll never miss the backups and overheated engines.

I knew this was going to be a searing summer. The water bugs that reside in my front sidewalk's cracks have been out and running for more than eight weeks.

A clump of hollyhocks at the Robert Long House's garden on South Ann Street in Fells Point seems to defy the arid weather. Also, witness the great show of orange day lilies overlooking Lake Montebello, the black-eyed Susans along the Beltway, the Queen Anne's lace at 22nd Street and Maryland Avenue and the light blue Russian sage in the Inner Harbor planting beds.

Is anything hotter than the cab of the big, black Pennsylvania Railroad GG-1 electric locomotive at the B&O Museum, Pratt and Poppleton streets?

The summer arrives when a rust-colored haze settles in for weeks over the Middle Branch of the Patapsco. It seems to encourage crabbing.

Try a pickled whole green tomato bought at a Lexington Market delicatessen stand. But better plan on several cups of water afterward to counteract the salt you'll ingest.

Even the cats who live in the old sheds at the foot of Clinton Street in Canton seem dazed in this past weekend's Torrid Zone.

All spring, the mighty snow ball has been in heavy demand. Thperennial favorite flavors at the Sinsz family stand, Walther and Southern avenues, are chocolate, cherry, egg custard and spearmint. Spearmint? "Maybe it's the cooling factor," said Phil Sinsz, who's been there for many years.

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