As Flower Mart Blooms, A Sea Of Color Gives Way To Memories And Little Delights

May 03, 2008|By JACQUES KELLY

There are mornings when I say to myself, do I really need another Flower Mart? Then I get my walking shoes on, pace down Charles Street, bless the lack of traffic (streets closed) and wind up in the right mood. Call it the Flowermart effect.

Are there people who come out only three times a year for these annual festivals? I saw people yesterday morning around the Washington Monument who show up only for Flower Mart, the Christmas lighting of the monument and maybe the September book festival.

OK. I love to see all the ridiculous hats and the pastel tones on the spring outfits. Does it all remind me of Baltimore in 1955? Absolutely.

Bless these infrequent Mount Vernon Place visitors. It's their loss not to spend more time in this neighborhood.

Many nights I catch a bus home from the base of the Washington Monument. It's taken me years to realize it, but a bench on the square is a highly effective place to decompress from work mode.

Sometimes it's not a calamity when the bus is late. From the bench, I observe the passing Baltimoreans. In the winter there's always a bright star in the southwest sky. It can be cold, but it's not annoying. The lights pop on around the square; sometimes young musicians are hauling their bass fiddles into the Peabody concert hall. Folks from the nearby elderhostel study their maps as they fearlessly take on the streets of old Baltimore. There always seem to be people in a photography class taking shots of the monuments and architecture.

The squares grow more inviting in the warm weather. The mix of architecture and mature trees is amazing. On a spring evening, the effects of a rotten work day can be quickly overcome by a walk up from St. Paul to the Monument past the east fountain, which is now fully operating.

Some old friends recently invited me to a dinner at the Mount Vernon Club on the west square. It was March, and I looked across toward the Engineer's Club building. This scene was a very reasonable imitation of London or Dublin or Gramercy Park in Manhattan..

Another huge urban pleasure involves attending a musical performance at the Peabody Institute. The students work so hard on their music. When the applause dies down, and it's time to leave the building, you emerge into the street-lighted Mount Vernon Place. Who needs a trip to a music hall in Munich?

A few weeks ago, I caught one of the final dazzling performances of A Little Night Music at Center Stage. I learned a lesson that Saturday night. Baltimore's Mount Vernon is not New York, and restaurants shut down early here. I kept getting turned away at 11 p.m. Over and over, I was told the kitchen had closed.

I eventually made it to Joe's Squared Pizza at North Avenue and Howard Street, where the owner served us. Maybe by next year's Flower Mart, I'll be able to enjoy a late supper within walking distance of the monument.

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