I THINK WE should be the new restaurant critics for the paper -- a couple of culinary correspondents," my friend suggested.
Puzzled, I wondered where she would get such an idea. We wrote community news.
Frankly, I was concerned the chicken dinner/spaghetti supper beat was not up to critique.
"No, no. Real restaurants. Linen napkins, a choice of baked potato or rice pilaf, no arguments about prizes with your Happy Meal."
She paused and began to speak more slowly. "A place where food is eaten before you have to pay for it."
I assured her I grasped the concept of a restaurant; I simply didn't see myself in the role of critic.
"We shop for food. We cook for our families. We eat!" she argued.
She had a point. I just wasn't sure popping a Banquet turkey pot pie in the oven and eating enough to rate advance notice of sales at Lane Bryant were adequate resume enhancements.
"Suit yourself," she pouted as she prepared to leave. "But I have dinner reservations tonight, and if you're not interested there are five other community columnists I can call."
Maybe, but without the Happy Meal incentive, I doubt she'll get any takers.
Bon appetit, Glen Burnie.
The halls are empty and the classrooms quiet, but that doesn't mean the work at Corkran Middle School is over for volunteer Harriett Cavey and her husband, Richard.
While the students are enjoying summer vacation, the Caveys will be visiting occasionally to check on their own very special science project: two gardens designed to teach students firsthand the delicate balance of the ecosystem.
The Gerard Plaza residents' commitment to the gardens began four years ago after they read about a student film project on endangered species around the world.
Conservationists active in Maryland's Save Our Streams Foundation, the Caveys contacted then-principal Phyllis Cherry to volunteer.
"We wanted to remind the children that there are threatened and endangered species in our own state, in their own backyard," said Mrs. Cavey.
The school's design led the couple to use one of the two enclosed courtyards as a wildlife habitat.
Initially, their efforts were met with guarded enthusiasm, but the school was soon behind their project.
Students provided funds from their leftover lunch money. "Give a Froggy a Home" was the catch phrase as students, using a frog hand puppet, drummed up enthusiasm and money.
In time, the 200-by-75-foot space began to look more like a wildlife habitat, with a pond, water lilies, snails, trees and bushes.
"Mrs. Cherry even hauled flat rocks from her mother's home in Western Maryland so we could save money," recalled Cavey.
The courtyard is surrounded by hallways and classrooms whose windows overlook the garden.
"Some times the teachers have to close the window shades so the children will stop looking out the windows," said Cavey.
Surrounded by walls, the garden's inhabitants are limited to birds and butterflies. Janitors have reported two mallards visiting.
"We told the students that when you consider how close the school is to the airport, it makes sense that whatever's going to come into the courtyard is coming by air," said Cavey, laughing.
Once the initial work on the pond garden was completed, the Caveys turned their attention to a second courtyard, where they began work on a rain garden with enrichment teacher Peggy Sange. The current principal, Robert Janovski, heartily approves.
"As the water drains from the roof of the school, it is filtered by the plants so the [pollutants] are not absorbed into the ground.
"The system offers better filtration than a holding pond, and the students learn that all water eventually goes into the bay," explained Cavey.
When the students return in August, they will find the gardens have matured over the summer -- not unlike themselves.
And the Caveys will be there to help both continue to grow.
Pub Date: 6/18/97