What question perplexes me most on forms and questionnaires? The question I find most difficult to answer is what major city do I live closest to?
As a child through my pre-children years, I would have had several answers:
- 0-4 years — Manchester, England
- 5-8 — New York City
- 9-10 — Manchester, England
- 11 — New York City
- 12-15 — Manchester, England
- 16-18 — Milan, Italy
- 19-22 — Philadelphia
- 23-29 — Washington, D.C.
Yes, my childhood was madness personified!
In 1994, my husband and I realized that our tiny townhouse in Montgomery Village was not big enough to accommodate all our stuff let alone a child! I was happily working in Gaithersburg while my husband commuted to Damascus. We were a stone’s throw from the Shady Grove Metro. I had commuted to DC for work each day before finding a job closer to home. I still took the Metro once or twice a week to George Washington University for graduate classes. Occasionally we would visit an art gallery or museum in D.C. In short, we were D.C. people.
In late 1993, we began our search for a new place to grow roots and hopefully start a family. We quickly realized that Montgomery County, MD, was out of the question. House prices were through the roof. We wanted to build our own home. My husband had this crazy notion that he wanted to buy land. He grew up on 3/4 of an acre, which meant he found our townhouse neighbors too close for comfort.
The quest for land took us to Frederick and Carroll counties. The drive out to both was daunting. We drove in nonrush hour times and on weekends. House after house failed to appeal to us. Some were too small…too expensive…too weird (we stumbled in to a community of senior citizen bungalow townhomes with roll-in showers and extra wide doorways)…too near to massive power lines (seriously, the powerline was where I envisioned having a play structure).
Our search was stalled. We were about to give up when my FIL showed us a listing for a new development in Howard county. The drive out to Howard sold us before we even go to the house. We saw not one car as we drove over the Montgomery county line. It was a ghost town — in a good way — that Sunday afternoon.
The neighborhood — a former farm that my FIL recalled playing at — was almost completely developed with only 5 or 6 lots left. Most of the lots had steep, treacherous driveways that would be nightmarish to mow. The last lot we looked at was perfect. Too close to the road for some, but flat enough for us to visualize our “kids” riding bikes down the completely flat driveway. Welcome to Baltimore, hon!
Through some finagling of finances we were able to swing the much higher home price and lot price. In June 1994 we were the proud owners of 3 acres and 1 new home…thankfully no mule…in Woodbine, MD!
Woodbine has changed over the years, but remains a safe place to live. Thanks to some draconian county laws, many of the farms are in historic preservation. I can’t tell you how relieved we were to find that the farm we can see through our kitchen window would remain a farm. Our neighborhood is bordered on 3 sides by county parkland and 1 side by a semi-working farm.
Which brings me back to the question of what city I live closest to. Howard County is in a no-man’s land. Not a part of the DC Metro Area and not a suburb of Baltimore City and County. I have done what anyone would do — I call both cities my own.
When I am in a DC frame of mind I recall visits to the International Spy Museum, reading the Washington Post, and almost meeting Guy Fieri. As a DC Mommy I go here to find out about events, things to do, and places to shop.
Woodbine is not famous for anything. It is a cluster of homes and farms with parkland thrown in for good measure. Woodbine is split between two counties. We’re south of the railroad tracks in Howard County, while those north of the tracks are Carroll County.
Searching the brief entry on Wikipedia I know that…
- Woodbine is named after a plant that grows in fields and on riverbanks.
- Lisbon our neighboring town is home to the first traffic circle in Maryland. Lisbon now has two, woohoo!
- During the Civil War, Rebel cavalry crossed the Patapsco River at Woodbine scouting the Union Army that was on its way to the Battle of Gettysburg.
If you are passing through Woodbine, you might want to stop at Larriland Farms to pick some of the best fruit out there or go on a fall hayride, visit the horses that are nursed back to health at the Days End Horse Rescue Farm, or check out the Woodbine Facebook page.
I wrote this post as part of Blogtrotting. For more information about Blogtrotting, go here.