Great White by Frank Marsden Winter bird photo by Frank Marsden Clouded Underwing Moth
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The following articles are selections from our quarterly newsletter: "The Otter's Tale". The entire newsletter is available at the Estuary Center or you can download it here.

In Design: CBNERR-MD Begins Planning
for a Field Station at Monie Bay

In Times of Uncertainty, Nature Reassures

by Kriste Garman, Park Manager

As I begin to write this article, I am 19 days late for the Spring Newsletter release date.  This year, my inattention to deadlines seems like perfect timing.

Effective 3/14/2020 to 4/1/2020 at minimum, all Harford County parks and recreation programs have been cancelled, and our buildings closed, in response to the rapid spread of corona virus, or covid-19.  We are in uncharted territory, unprecedented times.  We are all stressed out with uncertainties—how much, how long?

Amidst those very human uncertainties, the dependability of planetary, natural cycles is reassuring and calming.

“The sun will come out tomorrow”, sung or spoken, sounds like a platitude, but in times like these it is a balm.

The sun is rising and setting, painting lovely scenes in the clouds, for anyone who looks.

The moon is continuing its cycle, waxing and waning, full or new, and playing with the clouds and trees and buildings of our communities to paint striking scenes of light and shadow.

The seasons continue to cycle, albeit with timing changes, but spring is definitely on its way, with all the color and excitement and certainty we expect.  Already, daffodils are blooming, the tulips are up, and the spicebush is blooming.

Skunk cabbage

The parade of wildflowers has begun at the Estuary Center.  In the lead, the skunk cabbage spathe has been up for a month now.  Trout lilies are up and will be in bloom next, providing swaths of purple mottled foliage dotted with yellow nodding blooms all along woodland stream borders.  Pink lady's slipper is next in the line-up, its pillowy flowers lifted above leathery, tulip-like leaves, hiding in the leaf litter of upland forests, often near pines.

Lady's slipperTrees and shrubs put on their own show.  Red maples have burst into sweet smelling bloom, and are already dropping flowers at our feet along trails.  The spicebush, with its gorgeous, tiny chartreuse flowers, is the first shrub in bloom in our eastern woodlands.  About the time the lady's slippers bloom, the wild azalea, or pinxter flower, opens its blushing pink, tubular flowers.  Last in the spring parade of blooms, the mountain laurel bursts forth with heavy groups of white to light pink flowers around Memorial Day.

For the moment, your park trails remain open, and provide a wonderful place to get away from the 24/7 stream of news and social media that stresses us out.  We encourage individual families to visit, remembering to be responsible and practice “social distancing”, even here.  Remember, though, that nature is truly all around us—you need not go further than your windowsill to reap its benefits.

To everything there is a season.  As surely as the sun will rise, the natural world around us will go through its cycles of birth, growth, and death.  When our human constructs are wobbling around us, it can be sustaining to go outside—on your front porch, yard, neighborhood park, or natural area nearby—and open your senses to the dependable, hope-filled, ordinary and extraordinary natural world.  Mother Earth, as some cultures know it.  Mother Earth reassures me that everything is going to be alright.

MRPA Outstanding Service Award for OPCA

On February 27, 2020, OPCA volunteers and ACLEC staff attended the Maryland Recreation and Parks Association (MRPA) Annual Service Awards Ceremony, where the Otter Point Creek Alliance was awarded the Outstanding Group Service Award.  The nominees are volunteer groups within the state that have contributed outstanding service within the past two years to the parks, recreation and leisure profession.

Annette Rolfes and Michele Dobson accepting the award for OPCA

As the park manager and staff liaison to the board of OPCA, I experience first-hand the passion, caring, energy, enthusiasm and productivity of this wonderful group of people, and was honored to write the nomination to recognize them as the best service group in the state in the parks and recreation field.  I am so pleased that the MRPA recognized the work of OPCA, and very proud to stand up and applaud loud and long their many good works for ACLEC and Harford County Parks and Recreation!

Nomination exerpts:

OPCA has significantly stepped up their support of the Estuary Center in the past two years, hiring independent contractors to support programming and partnering in the construction of the Nature Discovery Area and the owl enclosure.  All of these actions were on top of the already stellar support of OPCA for administrative operations of the Center, and volunteer assistance with special events, boating programs, general public programming, and school field trips.

OPCA has contributed outstanding service to the parks, recreation and leisure profession in Harford County, Maryland, through unflagging, enthusiastic support for the staff, programs, and facilities at the Anita C. Leight Estuary Center.  The volunteer time and money they provide significantly enhances the nature programming and facilities of the Harford County Department of Parks and Recreation.



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Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
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OPCA is a non-profit organization
which supports all the great opportunities and programs at the Estuary Center. Find out more click here.

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Anita C. Leight Estuary Center / 700 Otter Point Road, Abingdon MD 21009 / 410-612-1688