Maryland lives up to its reputation as 'Land of Pleasant Living' in winter SOUTHEAST -- Sykesville * Eldersburg * Gamber

NEIGHBORS

January 12, 1993|By MAUREEN RICE

It's new and improved snow. At last, we have snow that sticks to grass, trees and other natural substances without sticking to roads.

The kids can go sledding, make snowmen and bomb each other with snowballs. Their parents can safely go to the store for toilet paper and bread. What could be better?

To a former resident of the northern climes of New York state, this snow, which miraculously appeared on Saturday, was a very welcome sight. Those of us from snowy regions consider winter one of the very best things about Maryland.

In the first place, it ends. This is a real treat to someone who graduated under leafless trees, marching across brown grass. There is never so much snow that you are housebound for days on end. The temperature is never so low that the dogs' feet freeze to the ground.

Of course, the lack of true winter tempts us to do things we normally would have considered to be insane, such as buying a home that sports a common driveway measurable in terms of miles. The driveway is truly enormous when it snows. Clearing it with a shovel is no treat, but watching the toy snow plows clear the streets makes it much more fun, as the neighbors compete with their snow removal implements as if there really was snow to remove.

First, there are the "leavers." These people are most practical, their snow removal method uses no energy whatsoever. Mother Nature does the trick for them -- they just wait until it melts.

Then there are the shovelers, whose method uses only human energy.

There are the snow blowers. Blowers won't remove "real" snow (more than one foot is real snow).

I used to consider snow blowers useless, but our driveway has taught me to want one. Here, they are quite sufficient.

Then there are the fanatics, who really belong somewhere in Texas, where everybody believes bigger is better. These neighbors drag out the farm size tractor, complete with a roll bar and equipped with a plow sufficient to clear all the snow from Canada. I am always transfixed at this sight, which is probably the whole point, and once one of the "Texans" cleared my driveway for us, which instantly earned him a place in my heart.

If I ever move again, perhaps it will be to Texas, where bigger can mean a bigger heart, too.

And, of course, there really is no such thing as winter down there.

*

Calling all Scouts! The Klondike Derby is about to happen, right here at Piney Run Park.

On Jan. 16, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts will compete to earn a pennant to affix to their den flag.

"There are usually about 1,000 participants," said Hank Reinhardt, who is organizing the event for the third time, "and the emphasis is on cooperation."

Cooperation? In competition?

"We ask the pack leaders [who organize the individual events] to make a task which can only be done if each boy does his best to cooperate with his team," Mr. Reinhardt said, so rain or shine, snow or sleet, the scouts and their leaders will master the elements and prove they understand the Cub Scout motto, "Do your best."

The derby, which is open to all Cub or Boy Scouts in Carroll County except the very youngest, will have 28 events, divided into those suitable for the younger Cub Scouts and those for the older, more experienced Boy Scouts.

"We keep the boys moving," said Jack Redmond, Pack Leader for Cub Scout Pack 392. "It keeps them warm, it keeps them happy. It's a lot of fun and it relieves post-holiday depression -- not that the boys suffer from that, but we adults sometimes do."

What advice does an experienced Scout leader have for participants?

"No sneakers," Mr. Reinhardt said. "Sneakers soak through very quickly, and if the weather is cold even hypothermia is possible. Waterproof boots are a must.

"Dressing in layers is best, too. I tell the boys to wear a sweat shirt under a sweater and a coat, in case it gets warm, so they can take one piece off and not get a chill." That's good advice for the leaders, too.

Information: Todd Walter, Boy Scout District Executive for Carroll County, 338-1700.

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