Currently viewing the tag: "National Park Service"

One hundred years after the Civil War, servicemen killed in action in Vietnam were brought home to Gettysburg for their final rest. This Memorial Day weekend, explore some of the lesser-known stories of Gettysburg National Cemetery. Park rangers from Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site will highlight the stories of servicemembers from south-central Pennsylvania who were killed in action or died of wounds during the Vietnam War. 

These fallen servicemembers were buried in Gettysburg from 1965 through 1971. Their stories include individuals who served in the Navy, Army, Air Force, and Marines. As the final resting place for over 6,000 men and women who served the United States in conflicts from the 1860s through the 1970s, Gettysburg National Cemetery is a fitting place to remember the meaning of Memorial Day and how the United States remembers its fallen. 

Join Park Rangers on Saturday, May 28, at 4:00 p.m., for a free 90-minute guided walking tour of the Gettysburg National Cemetery, focusing on stories of some of the last fallen service members buried there. 

Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site are pleased to cosponsor this event. The program will begin at the Taneytown Road entrance to Gettysburg National Cemetery. For additional information and updates, please visit or

The Year is…1953

by James Rada, Jr.

Being a Good Neighbor on Catoctin Mountain

It’s nice to have good neighbors. It’s even nicer when the neighbor is the President of the United States.

Works Progress Administration laborers built the 22 camp buildings at Camp Greentop between 1934 and 1938. The log buildings were a mix of sleeping cabins, administrative buildings, and lodges. The plan was for Camp Greentop to look the same as Camp Misty Mount, but it was changed during construction so that the League for Crippled Children in Baltimore could use the buildings. According to the National Park Service, the camp was one of the first handicap-accessible facilities in the country.

Although the camp was built to house 150 children, 94 children—53 girls and 41 boys (ages 7 to 15)—were enjoying the outdoors there in June 1953. Most of them suffered from cerebral palsy or polio. On the morning of June 28, their neighbors, Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower, came to visit.

“Responding to an invitation sent to him by some of the children, the President turned up at the camp about 9:30 a.m.,” the Frederick News reported. “The children had not been told that Eisenhower and the first lady were coming, and they cut loose with squeals of delight as their distinguished guests drove up.”

The first couple had been staying at Camp David, the presidential retreat near Camp Greentop on Catoctin Mountain, and were on their way back to Washington, D.C.

The Eisenhowers spent a half-hour at the camp, meeting and talking with the children. Although the visit surprised the children, they gathered and sung a couple of songs for the Eisenhowers.

“Do you know what the President did this morning?” Mamie asked one little girl. “He got up and made hotcakes.”

One boy said to the President, “Hello, President Eisenhower, I saw you on television.”

Eisenhower chuckled and replied. “You ought to be looking at Gary Cooper on television.”

As the visit wound down, Eisenhower looked around for his wife, who had been led away by a group of children. “I think I’d better go and get my little gal,” he told the group of children near him.

He located Mamie and helped her into the car, but before they left, the President found Fred Volland, the camp business manager. He asked what the children’s favorite dessert was. Then he slipped Volland some money and said with a grin, “Give them the dessert on me.”

From Catoctin Mountain, the couple continued on to Washington, D.C.

Camp Greentop Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.

Photograph shows a pair of campers at Camp Greentop in 1937.

The namesake of our local ‘Cunningham’ Falls has been a mystery for years. Before the reference to the falls as ‘Cunningham’ Falls, around the 1920s, the falls were known as McAfee Falls, Harman Falls, the Cascades, and Hunting Creek Falls.

Recently, a potential answer to the ‘Cunningham’ mystery has been uncovered via the release of a transcript of interviews conducted in 1969 by representatives from the National Park Service with some of the McAfee descendants who were alive during the name transition. These transcripts have been made available by Robert McAfee of Foxville, a descendant of the interviewees.

The interviewees named Mr. and Mrs. Charles McAfee explained that there were several McAfee ‘home places’ around the falls. They acknowledge having births ‘at the falls’ and getting married there. Charles said, “I lived there four years. In 1907, 8 and 9 and10. Then I went up to Foxville.”

Charles explained that he worked in construction ‘under’ Goldsborough and Williams who were constructing youth camps. He said, “They’re the ones – Williams is the one – that named it Cunningham Falls…Williams named it that. Never nobody known like that around here.” When asked why Williams called it Cunningham Falls, Charles said, “I don’t know. No real reason for it. He just picked that and called it that.”

Charles went on to say, “…afterwards [Dr.] Bowman and a bunch of us got together to get rid of that Cunningham business…So, that’s when we tried to get it named McAfee Falls.” Conversation continued about names of the falls, referencing Hunting Creek, the Cascades, and, “when we went to school, it was called the Falls.” They estimated Charles’ reference to attending school to be around 1901.

According to Rose McAfee in a separate interview, it was, “…after they sold the timber long before the government purchased the land, the name was changed to Cunningham Falls. People from away called it Cunningham Falls all of a sudden and people around here called it McAfee Falls.”

To date, these interviews point to the most plausible explanation for the naming of ‘Cunningham’ since the timeline and printed references align.

A May 23, 2018, Frederick News-Post’s “Yesterday” post from “50 Years Ago” referenced that, “A mistake of more than 30 years standing (as of May 23, 1968) was righted recently when Maryland’s Commission on Forests and Parks renamed the falls in Cunningham Falls State Park. The official name is now McAfee Falls, honoring an old Frederick County family which settled in the area in 1790. As a logical follow-up the Forests and Parks Commission is now considering renaming the park Hunting Creek State Park.”

When looking back at the corrective actions taken to remedy this ‘mistake,’ not much was done. At one point, signage was posted “McAfee Falls” at the Falls hiking trail inside Cunningham Falls State Park. Otherwise, correcting the ‘mistake’ referenced in Frederick News Post’s “Yesterday” post has been forgotten.

With this newest discovery of information, we’ll call the ‘Cunningham’ mystery solved. It’s been an interesting path to the ‘facts,’ and we thank all who gave insight.

Regardless of its name, thousands of visitors enjoy the falls every year, which is the State of Maryland’s largest cascading waterfall, standing at 78 feet.

James Rada, Jr.

Morris Blake spent decades working in security with Maryland Department of Natural Resources, National Park Service, Francis Scott Key Mall, Frederick County, and Mount St. Mary’s; but, last year, he turned in his badge to become a hair stylist and has never been happier.

Blake, who turns fifty-seven this year, has lived in Thurmont all of his life.

“I live in the same house they brought me home from the hospital to,” Blake said.

He started working for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources as a ranger at Cunningham Falls when he was twenty-two years old.

One incident he remembers from this time is when he and his training officers approached a man near the dam, who was sitting on the pipe hole. They saw that he had weapons in his vehicle, and they convinced the man to come up from where he was sitting to talk to them.

The man was depressed, but cooperative. When the training officer asked if it would be all right to check the man’s weapons, the man reached into the vehicle, pulled out his shotgun, and racked it.

“They didn’t give up bulletproof vests, but I tell you, every day after that, I wore one,” recalled Blake.

Although this man proved to be harmless, Blake realized that he could easily have been shot, so he went and bought his own bulletproof vest to wear from then on.

After seven years with the State of Maryland, he moved across the road to become a ranger with the Mounted Horse Patrol at Catoctin Mountain Park. He enjoyed working with the horses, in particular, giving rides to handicapped children who came to the park. However, tightening budgets cost the park its two horses, Jimmy and Commander, who were sent to work at the St. Louis Arch National Park.

So Blake moved on to mall security at Francis Scott Key Mall. He found himself moving up quickly in rank (although his duties and pay remained the same). When he asked Director of Security Gary Wood about it, he was told that it was because he was reliable and could be trusted.

When Wood retired, Blake became the director and realized why his work ethic had been rewarded. The younger officers couldn’t be trusted to keep working without supervision. They would goof off or flirt with girls. This meant that Blake wound up working long hours to supervise them. “I became director of security, but the work was sun up to sun down, and I couldn’t take it any longer.”

Blake then served one year in security at the Mount before landing a job with Frederick County at Winchester Hall. Not too surprisingly, the politics of the place seeped down, even to his department, until he could no longer tolerate it. He left after ten years. “I gave up the badge and came to the clippers.”

He decided to become a hair stylist because he wanted a job that would allow him to work with the public and give back to them. He attended school to earn his license and became a barber and stylist at Here’s Clyde’s in Thurmont in March 2016.

He explained that three of the women at Here’s Clyde’s he grew up with, and he looks at all of them as if they were his sisters. He also enjoys seeing people walk into the salon that he hasn’t seen for years.

Besides working in security, he was an organist at the Grotto in Emmitsburg for ten years before becoming the music director at the Fort Detrick Post Chapel, which he has done for the past four years. While the security jobs have been work, the music work has been a labor of love.

Blake doesn’t regret any of the jobs he has done because he learned from all of them. Even when the jobs were wearing him down, he stayed happy for the most part. He continues to be happy with a short walk to and from his job and being able to spend time with friends, new and old.

Morris Blake is shown at Here’s Clyde’s in Thurmont, where he works as a  barber and hair stylist.

Rick Slade was born and raised in Kansas and was accustomed to seeing far and wide across the prairie. Nowadays, when he looks out his office window, he has to crane his neck to look up the steep hillside through a heavy forest of trees to see the sky.

Slade became the superintendent of Catoctin Mountain Park at the beginning of May of this year. He replaced Superintendent Mel Poole, who retired last year after a thirty-seven-year career with the National Park Service.

Slade began his career with the National Park Service in 2003. After graduate school, he was working with the federal government, reviewing GAO programs.

“I realized that I was more interested in conservation work, and a friend encouraged me to apply for the National Park Service,” recalled Slade.

He applied, but he didn’t hold out a lot of hope for getting in because the National Park Service has a reputation of being a tough federal department to enter.

He was accepted for a position with the Amistad National Recreation Area.

“I liked it because it was jointly run by the United States and Mexico,” Slade said.

The area is created by the Amistad Reservoir in Mexico, but the result is a beautiful area in two countries.

He enjoyed the work. His wife worked as a midwife and spoke Spanish and English.

He moved back east and took a position with the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area in Georgia in 2003. In 2013, he became the superintendent of Monocacy National Battlefield in Frederick.

Moving to Catoctin Mountain Park is a step up in responsibility for Slade. He is managing double the staff, with double the budget, in a park that has three times the acreage.

“There are layers of history here,” Slade said. “It’s endlessly fascinating.”

While Catoctin Mountain Park and Monocacy National Battlefield have different characters, he finds them both beautiful parks.

“This park [Catoctin Mountain Park] is a gem within the park service, though,” stated Slade. “I don’t think it gets the national recognition it deserves.”

He pointed out that Catoctin Mountain Park has the high level of customer satisfaction of any park in the Capital Region.

“That quality needs to be maintained,” added Slade.

While he is still learning the ins and outs of his new park, he is enjoying the process. One of the changes that he expects visitors will see is new exhibits that are being planned for the visitor’s center. Behind the scenes, Slade said that some of the park’s infrastructure dates back to the 1930s and needs to be updated.

“The park has good bones,” Slade said. “We need to keep doing well what we do well.”

Courtesy Photo


Rick Slade, new superintendent of Catoctin Mountain Park.

James Rada, Jr.
National-Park-Service-logoYou don’t have to travel out west to visit a national park; you can find five National Park Service sites in Frederick County, Maryland (described below), plus the Gettysburg National Military Park located to our north just over the Pennsylvania state line. This year would be a great year to visit these parks because the National Park Service is celebrating its centennial!

“America’s national parks are beautiful, emotional places,” Ed. W. Clark, superintendent of Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site, said in a park news release. “Places like Gettysburg National Military Park, Flight 93 National Memorial, and the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail tell us more about who we are and help us understand history. Many parks are natural wonders that offer scenic getaways, wildlife viewing, and other adventures. The centennial is about celebration, discovery, and making new connections.”

The National Park Service (NPS) began when President Woodrow Wilson signed the “Organic Act” on August 25, 1916. This legislation not only created the NPS, but it give the NPS the job “…to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”

“It had far-reaching ramifications, which continue to impact 6,815,195 park visitors per year in Maryland alone. Even individuals who have never visited a park, if such people do exist, are impacted by the tourism dollars that are derived from NPS sites in their communities,” said Mary Mannix, Maryland Room Manager with the Frederick County Public Libraries.

In 1916, there were 35 parks and monuments under National Park jurisdiction; today there are over 400. They are located on over 84 million acres of land throughout our 50 states, along with DC, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, Saipan, and the Virgin Islands. Maryland is home to 16 of these national parks. More than 300 million people visit national parks in the United States annually. This is roughly 1,000 times the number of people who visited U.S. national parks in 1916.

With such a large anniversary for the NPS, you can be sure that more than the parks will be holding celebrations in its 407 national parks. Many individuals will host cookouts and celebrations, and in Frederick County, the Frederick County Public Libraries (FCPL) is hosting a series of talks and activities in conjunction with the NPS.

“To celebrate the 100th anniversary of this momentous act, Frederick County Public Libraries is partnering with several of Frederick County’s NPS sites for a year-long celebration of events, unique programs, and informational displays,” said Mannix.

Patrons can join in storytime walks in Catoctin Park; hear a talk about James “Snap” Rouzer, a 19th century bounty hunter; brush up on outdoor skills; or learn about moonshining in the area.

In Emmitsburg, patrons can view the art of Catoctin Artists in Residence and come face-to-face with some of the birds and animals from Catoctin Mountain.

To encourage participation in these events, the library system and NPS are offering a free overnight stay in the Canal Quarters at Point of Rocks (Lockhouse 28).

For every NPS/FCPL Centennial partnership program you and your family attend in 2016 in the parks and libraries, you will have a chance to enter into the drawing for the overnight stay.

Visit for more information. The drawing will take place on December 31, 2016, and the winner will be notified.
Find out more about what’s going on to celebrate the National Park Service anniversary in your local library at

Deb Spalding

Mel-PooleCatoctin Mountain Park Superintendent, Mel Poole, will retire on August 25, 2015, having completed an adventurous thirty-seven year career with the National Park Service (NPS). When summarizing his contributions, Poole let out a chuckle. Correction, it was more of a flat-out laugh. I soon understood why as he reviewed the many roles he’s filled during his career.

About Catoctin Mountain Park, where he’s spent the majority of the last seventeen years within the National Park Service system, he said, “For sure, the park is bigger, if not better,” as he explained that the park has grown from 5,772 acres to its current size of 5,890 acres.

He recalled that Catoctin Mountain Park was the first in the National Capital Region to look at deer management in order to aid in forest regeneration. Don’t forget that until the 1920s, the Catoctin forest was substantially cut over by various timber businesses to make charcoal for Catoctin Furnace. The mountain has been growing back, or regenerating, since then. Poole was part of a regional Environmental Assessment team that was formed in 1978 to determine what to do about the increasing deer population at Catoctin Park.

Poole noted that the park knows more about its natural resources than ever, but are still finding new species and monitoring populations of species. Park resources are faced with a huge range of issues: invasive species, threats to vegetation like the Gypsy Moth and hemlock, future potential threats like Emerald Ash Bore (EAB), all overlaid with fluctuating climate conditions like rainfall, severe storms, and changing air and water quality.

Brook trout have been an icon in Catoctin Mountain Park, drawing fly fisherman from near and far. In recent years, there has been a decline in the numbers of brook trout, not only across the State of Maryland, but across the country as well. Less than nine percent of historic brook trout habitat remains nationwide and sixty-two percent of the historic habitat has been lost in Maryland.

The depth of Poole’s knowledge of all of the varying parts he’s managed within the park, from studies of current plant and animal species, management and preventive maintenance of those species, and day to day challenges created by the use of the park by humans, is difficult to convey in this short space, but be assured that Poole’s knowledge is comprehensive.

He said, Catoctin Mountain Park “has one of the strongest resource protection ethics of all the parks in the region.” He shifted credit for this ethic to current coworkers and former employees of the park. He also shared credit with other state and local park systems and federal, state, and county agencies, indicating that the high standards would not be achieved without their support, cooperation, and contributions towards a shared vision.

Poole’s ethics, like that of his peers, mirror those of the National Park Service’s 1916 Organic Act that mandated the conservation and preservation of natural resources for future generations. He said, “Invasive species have the ability to come to us within twelve hours, thanks to air travel. Globally, it’s hard to keep outside influences from impacting the ecosystems that we’re trying to manage.”

Raised in the Tidewater area of Virginia, and with deep family roots in coastal North Carolina, Poole is one in a proud family of public servants. He said he knew he wanted to be a ranger from about age eight when he wrote his congressman and asked for a job. He claims he was a typical suburban kid who, in junior high, wandered into the woods in his neighborhood where he discovered life and wonder, which further fueled his interest in nature. He then climbed the ranks of Scouts as a Cub Scout, Boy Scout, and Explorer, spending his time completing tasks to earn outdoor conservation merit badges.

He was fortunate, at age fourteen, to attend the National Boy Scout Conservation Camp, where he spent time building trails with professors from Rutgers University who taught conservation. Poole said, “I ate it up! I absolutely loved it.”

From a tent mate who was from Pennsylvania, Poole learned about the varying wild life and terrain in Pennsylvania. He said he felt the camp mate, “might as well have been from Mars,” because he described a landscape so different from Poole’s coastal habitat. He also met people from Texas, New York, New Hampshire, and Georgia, and learned that there were even more parts of America. He said, “I was going to see them all.” He then worked in a Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) program in Norfolk, Virginia, for three years and went on to college at Virginia Tech, where he earned a degree in horticulture by way of forestry and landscape architecture.

He accepted his first job within the NPS in 1978 as a gardener in the White House greenhouse. President Carter was in the White House at that time. Later, working with National Capital Parks-East, a management unit based in D.C., he gained experience with hard-core urban parks, but also worked on a portion of the Potomac River and historic sites, where he worked with vegetation management and cultural landscapes. It was here and along the Anacostia River that he worked oil spills, first as a Hazardous Materials Specialist for the park and then at the regional level. This work, along with firefighting and water fowl hunting management, made for exciting daily adventures.

In 1984, he qualified as an interagency firefighter. For six years, he fought fires each summer and fall in Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, Montana, and California. Meanwhile, he progressed in grade and served as the Regional Fire Management Officer for six months, during which time he mobilized firefighter crews from the mid-Atlantic area to wherever forest fires were occurring across the continental United States. In 1989, he was detailed to Kodiak, Alaska, to help clean up the Exxon Valdez Oil spill. He said, “That was interesting, because I thought Denver’s mountains were big. It’s double that in Alaska.” His oil spill expertise would again be put to the test when he was assigned to the BP oil spill along the Gulf Coast in 2010.

Before accepting the Superintendent job at Catoctin Mountain Park, Poole was the Park Manager at President’s Park in Washington, D.C.—ground zero for First Amendment activity in Lafayette Park and lineups for White House public tours. He helped at seven Easter Egg Rolls, seven White House Christmas Tree Lightings, and two Presidential Inaugurations. Poole literally watched history being made every day during his time in Presidents Park.

A career highlight for Poole occurred in 1992 when then First Lady Barbara Bush requested that the National Park Service provide a White House tour for every fourth grader in Washington, D.C. Poole handed a script to rangers who greeted school children at the Northwest Gate where, every Wednesday from 9:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., fourth graders entered the White House through the front door on the North Portico. These kids witnessed daily business and history of the nation as they moved through the White House on their tours. He said, “It was a great school year for them, and a great experience for all the NPS rangers!”

In 1994, a new visitor pavilion was built on the Ellipse at President’s Park to replace a kiosk where Poole and his park rangers worked. It was complete with new bathrooms for visitors and a first-aid room where rangers could treat minor visitor injuries. He said, “We saw that as a quantum leap forward.”

In April 1995, Poole helped to open the White House Visitor Center across the street at 1450 Pennsylvania Avenue. In addition to high quality exhibits on White House history and a retail store staffed by the White House Historical Association, the National Park Service provided public tour ticketing for visitors each morning until 9/11 ended that tour operation. It was a big milestone to open that facility because, even if you couldn’t take a tour of the White House, you could still have a White House experience. In June of that year, Poole went to Shenandoah National Park to temporarily serve as Public Information Officer on the incident team managing a double homicide investigation. This case was later featured on America’s Most Wanted.

Poole finished at President’s Park in 1997 and moved to Catoctin Mountain Park. He’s been at Catoctin since March 1997, leaving briefly in 2006 to serve as Superintendent at George Washington Memorial Parkway, and again in 2009 to serve as acting Superintendent at Gettysburg National Military Park.

His milestones at Catoctin include work on President Clinton’s Middle East Summit, President Obama’s G8 Summit, and Gulf Coast Summit. In 2008, the park conducted a two-day search operation that successfully recovered a lost eighty-one-year-old woman.

Upon retirement, he is planning some genealogy research, some doing nothing, and a visit to a lifesaving station on the Outer Banks in North Carolina, where three of his cousins were keepers, to volunteer.

Poole and his wife, Candy, will continue to reside in Thurmont. Their son, Joshua, is currently serving in the Marine Corps, stationed at New River Air Station in Jacksonville, North Carolina. Their daughter, Lauren, recently graduated from Penn State, and landed a job as page designer for a newspaper in North Carolina.

Christine Schoene Maccabee

Nature’s  Quietude

I live in a valley cradled between the ancient rolling mountains, just north of Thurmont. This area is a perfect habitat for many species of frogs, toads, birds, and mammals, and I feel blessed to live here. Even though I am a musician, the best and most soothing music for me is the sound of peepers in the spring, crickets and katydids, and bird songs all around me in every season. The other day, after pulling up to the front of my home after a long day in Frederick, I turned off the noisy engine of my car, opened the door, and was greeted by the sweet, melodious song of a bird in the pine trees. Instantly, my whole body relaxed and I was happy.  There is nothing more gratifying for me than this—and nothing more healing.

Many famous writers have expressed the need we all have for such quiet times, away from the noise of churning engines and demanding electronic sounds of telephones, TVs, leaf blowers and, well, you name it. However, when I say it is a need we all have, I do not mean just human need. It has now been scientifically documented that wild birds need quiet to find mates and to defend territories. According to the National Park Service’s own studies, there has been a detrimental impact on red-tailed hawks, spotted owls, elk, caribou, mountain goats, and many other forms of wildlife due to plane overflies and the use of intrusive all-terrain vehicles.

Even Charles Lindbergh, famous for being the first pilot to fly across the Atlantic, expressed concern when he said, “I would rather have birds than airplanes.” Impressive. That reminds me of Albert Einstein’s letter to President Roosevelt, stating that if he had known what harm atom bombs could do, he would never have recommended that they be manufactured. Perhaps it is not so wise for humans to run with every invention they come up with; although, progress must go on at any cost—or so “they” say. Question is: Are we building a literal tower of Babel for ourselves?

“The day will come when man will have to fight noise as inexorably as cholera and the plague,” said the Noble prize-winning bacteriologist, Robert Koch, in 1905. Heavy duty and prophetic.

Today, “the rate of quiet places extinction vastly exceeds the rate of species extinction,” said Gordon Hempton in his book One Square Inch of Silence. Mr. Hempton, an acoustic ecologist and lover of quiet, went from coast to coast trying to find wild places devoid of human sound, winding up in the halls of Congress to make a case for less noise in our national parks. Because of his dedication, legislation was passed in 1987 to reduce air traffic over the Grand Canyon. 

Let me return to the simple truth of my own life when I say that not only do I love nature’s music better than most songs on the radio, but I direly need nature’s quietude to survive, literally. I do not do well, physically or emotionally, with a lot of technological speed and clamor; though like everyone, I have no choice but to live with it the best I can. Many people seem to have no problem adapting to noise, although it may affect them more than they know. I honestly am not in judgment of some types of technology or people who love the sounds associated with it. I am simply acknowledging how it affects me and the natural world that I love so dearly.

So, I limit my trips to town in the car, I leave the house when my son’s music gets too loud, and I listen to bird songs. I suppose because I am a musician, I am particularly attuned to beautiful bird songs. Over the last couple of years, I have written many of them down on staff paper—in the very keys the birds sing them! Some early morning bird songs are in the keys of D flat minor, D flat major, and F major. By evening, the songs slow down, and one particularly poignant melody I heard sounded more like a sigh than a song—done in the key of C minor. Its beauty astounded me, and I feel profoundly blessed to have heard it.

I have a challenge for you. On some clear day, no matter the season, hike into the Catoctin Mountains alone or with a comrade of similar interest. Do little or no talking, and once you are as far away from human noise as you can get, hold your breath, for breathing makes sound. Listen for the natural sounds of leaves fluttering in the wind, or bird calls, or perhaps, if you are lucky, you will hear the profound sound of total silence…of no sound!

Mostly, I hope you can find some peace and quiet wherever and whenever you can. This long cold winter, see if you can hear the sound of snowflakes falling. And if you are suffering from anxiety, just take a deep breath and know that quiet is quieting, and now and then “God speaks to us in whispers.”