Beauty and Mystery in Druid Hill Park


Daybreak At Droodle – Beauty and Mystery in Druid Hill Park

For a half century, I have felt at home in the free and open spaces of Druid Hill Park. “Droodle” or “Droodle Pork” as it is known in Baltimorese to many older residents, is a treasure island of solitude and socializing smack in Baltimore’s midsection.

I first walked there in 1963, a century after Lloyd Nicholas Rodgers sold his Druid estate and it became Baltimore’s first park. A series of bold maneuvers engineered by Mayor Thomas Swann sealed the deal. Druid grew and today is 745 acres in size, the city’s largest park and almost as expansive as New York’s Central Park.

Druid is in plain sight and accessible, but seems hidden and unused by many. Its trees, grass, flowers, waters, animals and uncrowded ways are spread generously. The tax supported pleasance, a place of rest and recreation, is open to all.

Four youths once stabbed and robbed me there but, as other devoted regulars who feel safe in daytime Druid, I have returned over and over, many hundreds of times for solace, celebration or change of pace. It is a convenient reminder of our beautiful rare earth. The place is best in the mornings. The rhythms of the clock give way to those of the sun, earth, cloud, wind, rain and snow.  My explorations took me in all seasons to all corners—valleys, hillocks, forests, lawns, meadows, brooks, lakes, paths, roads, playfields and ghosts of different types.

In geographical matters, I prefer mountains, but they are lacking in Baltimore, so Druid Hill became my local escape. It was a natural choice, near home and rising ground. A camera often came with me. Let me here share my photographs from this beautiful, often mysterious atmosphere. A bench in the Scottish Highlands is inscribed, “Rest and be thankful”. It would fit Druid Hill Park.

At times the park has been threatened by neglect, damage, development schemes and ignorance of its existence. May people look kindly on this wood and help preserve it for all.

Ernest F. Imhoff
December 2013

Ernie Imhoff

Ernie Imhoff, shown in 2013 in his 50th year in Druid Hill Park, was a reporter and editor at The Evening Sun and The Sun for 36 years. After retiring, he climbed the ladder and set sail as a documented ordinary seaman for the past 14 years on Baltimore’s all-volunteer Liberty ship, the S.S. John W. Brown. He published “Good Shipmates: Volumes 1 and 2”.and created a DVD, “Beautiful Ship”. He has climbed 100 mountains and has run 100 road races, some in Droodle. He is a member of The Friends of Druid Hill Park.

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