Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Visiting Anna

It was blustery last week when I made my way south from my home in Baltimore County, Maryland, to the Library of Congress in our nation’s capitol for a day of research on behalf of my employer.  I needed an outfit under which I could hide long underwear and thick socks for my 90-minute commute by car, foot and subway train through what was forecast to be the “seasonally brisk” winter weather so typical this time of year in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States.

I layered, of course, starting with a nice warm pair of moleskin gauchos from Rods Western Wear over thermal undies.  I paired the cropped trousers with a comfortable Bulgarian-made top with three-quarter-length sleeves by Tribal Sportswear which was a gift to me last year from my best friend’s mother, Joyce, in Spokane, Washington, over which I added a thick, knit poncho from Fritelli & Lockwood, purveyors of elegant hand-woven and custom-tailored garments, which I discovered at the Baltimore Convention Center’s annual juried American Craft Council show several Februaries ago.  I loved the fringed poncho so much I bought two in different colors and have never regretted the splurge.

With my brown attire echoing the barren winter landscape, I pulled on cognac-hued Zane riding boots by Brash, a recent purchase in New York City with unusual "outside zipper" detailing, and a chunky necklace of wooden beads that belonged to my mother in the 1970s.  I set out on my way. The air was sharp and freezing rain threatened, but I was snuggly in my woolens and knits.

On the way home from Washington, D.C., I stopped at a nursing home in Baltimore City where I recently learned resides an old friend of mine, Anna, a Morgan State university professor and scientist for the state of Maryland whose specialty, interestingly enough, is cement and concrete chemistry.  

Anna and I got to know each other as longtime volunteers at Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area in northwest Baltimore County, which encompasses an unusual ecosystem known as the Serpentine barrens, home to 39 species of rare and/or endangered plants and animals.  Anna was fascinated by the flora and fauna of Soldiers Delight and spent time researching Serpentine chickweed, even writing a paper about it. Anna says the unique ecosystem at Soldiers Delight reminds her of a favorite habitat in her native Afghanistan, Band e Amir National Park.  Felled in recent years by a recurring brain tumor, Anna is bedridden now but no less keen in mind and manner.  I was anxious to see how she was doing.

We had a wonderful visit.  Anna was greeted warmly by the nurses who came in from time to time to check on her.  She told me she is treated well at this facility and is quite content.  I was pleased to see several pieces from Anna’s extensive art collection, including her own brightly colored works, adorning her hospital-room walls.


Anna and I used to volunteer together
at Soldiers Delight Natural
Environment Area
It might have been a bracing winter’s day outside, but my outlook was warmed considerably by sharing some quality time with a dear acquaintance. You know, it felt really good to lift the spirits of an old friend.
Cheers,
Lynell

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