A grown man deprived of snow develops the strangest urges


January 27, 1995|By DAN RODRICKS

A remarkable thing happened the other morning when we zip-tripped out to Garrett County to see snow. I hadn't seen snow this year, so when someone told me it fell in Western Maryland over the weekend -- about 5 inches in some places -- I just had to go. Sounds buggy, doesn't it? After last winter, you'd have to be a screwball to feel snow-deprived. But I like snow. I miss it. So I went to Garrett County, that Maryland Afghanistan way out in the western reach of the state, to get a look. And nearly 2 1/2 hours into the trip, I was getting impatient. Hancock had no snow. Cumberland had no snow; in fact, Cumberland was dry and brown. Frostburg was dry. We were zipping along the interstate, listening to a fuzzy business report from some Cincinnati radio station, running up a steep grade near some place called Finzel when, all of a sudden the vista turned white. In a blink, there was snow as far as we could see, as though some freeway gremlin had stuck a sofa-size landscape across the windshield. We had just crossed from Allegany County into Garrett, up along Big Savage Mountain, where the higher elevations always mean more snow. Many others before me have noted the stunning effect of that passage, and I've heard people speak of the "snow line" at the Garrett-Allegany border. But seeing it -- having it fill up your eyes and your heart all of a sudden like that -- takes your breath away.

A fellow visitor

Way out in Grantsville, on the banks of the Casselman River, nestled in a grove of trees down a bumpy road off old Route 40, is the Meshack Browning Club, a cozy and cluttered saloon named after the 19th century colonist acclaimed as Maryland's greatest hunter. The club is owned and operated by Rheba Cofiell. A couple people told me, if I get out that way, to stop in for a slice of Garrett County color.

So I passed an Amish farmer driving a black buggy, made a right off 40, bounced down River Road and pulled into a snow-covered parking lot by the icy Casselman. I knocked snow off my boots and stepped through the old wooden door.

I was expecting the saloon to be rough around the edges yet homey, which it was. I was expecting to meet guys in bright orange hunting caps, which I did. I was expecting to see trophies of wild animals, which I did. I noted a sign behind the bar: "When the world ends, I want to be in Garrett County -- it's always 20 years behind time." I was expecting, in short, something you just don't see around Baltimore, something distinctly rural, distinctly Garrett. I found Rheba behind the bar. She was watching the O. J. Simpson trial.

A mother's love

The other night, Ingmar Burger, our Remington correspondent, spotted a couple of teen-age boys sitting, handcuffed, in the back seat of a police cruiser. They had been arrested for stealing a car and wrecking it on 30th Street. "The mother of one of the two boys showed up," Ingmar says. "What words of comfort did she offer to her son? She pounded on the window and yelled at him, 'Give me your money!' Ah, the love of a mother for child. Is any love stronger?"

'Twas irony, dear readers

Some readers of Wednesday's column considered it bad taste that the account of Steve Tancredi's encounter with a homeless man was followed immediately by the story of a businessman's $3,500 spending spree in Annapolis. The intent behind the placement was irony, and I'm glad you noticed.

Barbarous error

I forget. Is Barbie still considered dumb as a box of rocks? Or is it now politically incorrect to assume that? Is there a new Barbie, a smarter, so-savvy-it-hurts Barbie? If the latter is so, it appears Barbie's rehabilitation is incomplete. A Hampden woman who wishes to remain anonymous -- "I'm saving my 15 minutes of fame for something more substantial" -- sends us a tear sheet from her 7-year-old daughter's favorite coloring book. Compare the postcard of New York Harbor with Barbie's note to Ken. I think this doll still needs some schooling.

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