Spring is a wonderful time to enjoy (and help clean) Lake Elkhorn


April 06, 1999|By John J. Snyder | John J. Snyder,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

LAKE ELKHORN is a shimmering jewel in the southeast corner of Columbia. Encircled by a winding path that runs along the shore, the lake is a fine place to be -- especially on these fresh days of spring.

As the new season takes hold, warm weather and April showers awaken the lake's flora. Grass deepens to a richer shade of green, and tulips and daisies begin to push up through the litter of leaves at the edge of the surrounding woods.

From 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, a volunteer cleanup is scheduled to help keep the lake in Owen Brown in the pristine state that draws admirers from all Columbia's villages.

Neighbors, Scout troops and Owen Brown Community Association members will join coordinators Sue Neri, Barb Cathcart and members of the Columbia Association's Waterfowl, Habitat and Advisory Committee in gathering up debris that has accumulated during the winter.

The lake invites many uses. Runners and walkers, thinkers and doers, young and old are to be found on its shores. Strollers can watch a canoe silently break the water as it glides along. Ducks take off for parts unknown while others land with a splash, looking for a handout.

"Oh, this is quite lovely, isn't it?" says Betty Jones, exclaiming in a lilting Welsh accent about the vista presented by the lake. Jones was visiting Columbia with her husband, Eddie, recently. The couple came from Gloucester, England, to see their daughter Janis Sleep and her husband, Richard, who live in Kings Contrivance.

The four were strolling by the lake last weekend before the Joneses had to board their flight home later in the afternoon.

"We don't have anything like this in our area, and at this time of year, we certainly wouldn't be in shirtsleeves back home," Janis said. Janis Sleep was born in England. She has lived in Kings Contrivance for two years.

"Its like a fine British summer's day," added Richard Sleep.

Where the path intersects with Ivory Hand Place, Jim Alford, 31, of Signal Hill in Jessup, was lakeside with his son Richard, 3.

Alford was teaching his son to fish. Using a kid-sized rod and reel with the words "Mickey Mouse" on it, Richard practiced casting a weighted sinker into the water.

His father patiently retrieved the line from the low shrubs at the water's edge.

Alford has been fishing this spot for years. He says he likes to come here a couple of times a week because he has had good luck landing some of the small-mouth bass and blue gill that are stocked in the lake.

Alford fishes to take his mind off business. He is owner of Hunt Valley Catering in Timonium.

"This is a nice little spot here, really," he said. "This is where I catch a lot of fish."

On the opposite shore, Jim Grab and his daughter Molly, 11, were also fishing, while Grab's wife, Ann, relaxed in a bright yellow inflatable canoe anchored in the middle of the lake.

The Grabs, originally from Ellicott City, have lived in Owen Brown for a year. They have taken up fishing and canoeing because of their proximity to the lake.

Like many visitors, the Grabs are eager to look after the environment they enjoy so much. The family will be helping with the cleanup Saturday.

"My daughters and I usually come by and pick up litter," said Grab, who is a postman in Kings Contrivance. Cleaning up at the lake is a family tradition for the Grabs. "We call it recycling day," he said.

A little farther down the path, 2-year-old Kacy Joyce Howard ran ahead of her mother, Michele. The family is in town from Pittsburgh to spend Easter with Michele's aunt Brenda Winfield, a resident of Owen Brown.

Michele Howard said her husband, Christopher, was golfing while mother and daughter enjoyed the spring day by the lake.

"It's just beautiful, I ran around the lake this morning," Michele Howard said. "This is just perfect."

Neat homes with well-kept gardens line parts of the lake. Some of these houses will be nearly invisible when the foliage fills in.

Fritz Stritehoff, 47, lives in a townhouse just steps from the lake. An avid long-distance runner, Stritehoff says that, regrettably, he will miss the big cleanup Saturday because he will be running in an ultramarathon near Raleigh, N.C. -- his second 100-mile race this year.

"That lake and this park is what makes this really nice," Stritehoff said of the waterfront property where he has lived for 16 years. A canoe hanging from wooden braces behind his house testifies to the value he places on the lake.

Maryland has no natural lakes -- all its lakes are man-made. Lake Elkhorn was made to be a place to gather, to enjoy the beauty of nature and pause for reflection.

It does all that.

Information or to join in the cleanup: Owen Brown village office, 410-381-0202.

Real dirt

The Columbia Gardeners have plots available in Long Reach and Elkhorn.

Each plot is approximately 20 feet by 25 feet and costs $20 for the year. Some half-plots may be available for $15.

Plot manager Ursula Kraljevic of Long Reach says the gardeners have a raised-bed plot available for handicapped gardeners.

Information on the Elkhorn site: 410-381-3687; the Long Reach site, 410-799-8468.

Driving better

Seniors concerned about their driving skills can take advantage of a free 15-minute screening to test their abilities at East Columbia Senior Center, 6600 Cradlerock Way.

An occupational therapist is available to discuss the results after the test, which is administered by trained volunteers.

The project is sponsored by the Maryland Research Consortium, which includes the Maryland State Office of Aging, Howard County Office of Aging and the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration.

Screenings at the East Columbia facility are held from 10 a.m. to noon Mondays and from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays.

Information: 410-313-7680.

Pub Date: 4/06/99

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