My favorite picture of my mother and me is a black-and-white snapshot taken by my father on his 35mm Argus rangefinder camera. It shows me at about the same age that my new granddaughter is now, still at the cute-and-pudgy stage.
In it, I’m clinging to a black rubber inner tube that my mom is holding steady. She’s in her sleek, one-piece bathing suit and wearing those 1950s-style sunglasses with the pointy rims. She’s smiling. I’m squinting into the sun as I seem to be in every photo my dad ever took of me. Still, that’s me in my natural habitat. Thanks, Mom.
Being in or on the water is as essential to my well-being as it is for Millie, my rescue retriever. Every afternoon, we head down to our community’s marina where there’s a little beach on Duval Creek near the mouth of the South River. I pop open the back hatch of the car and she leaps out and does her happy dance, bounding back and forth across the sand, then prancing atop the rocks on the jetty.
I whip out my genuine Louisville Slugger baseball bat and whack a tennis ball way out into the water. Millie plunges in and swims out to fetch it. As she gets back to shore, she drops the ball in the sand, shakes from head to tail, and casts a spray upon all humans who happen to be near. Then she picks the ball back up, deftly mouthing the clean part so as not to ingest too much sand, and performs another little jig before giving the ball back to me for another bang.
This goes on and on with no diminution of enthusiasm on the part of either of us.
I’m grateful to be living in a water privileged community. Not everybody has that benefit. One of my heroes, Mike Lofton, has been spearheading efforts to expand access to the waterfront on behalf of Anne Arundel County citizens for the past 40 years. He notes that only about 2 percent of the Chesapeake Bay’s 11,000-mile shoreline is accessible to the public.
I knew that Lofton would be part of the grand reopening of Beverly-Triton Nature Park last week, so Millie and I made an appearance to pay our respects. I was as pleased with what has been improved just as much as I was with what has been left alone. The mile or so of road leading down to the end of the Mayo Peninsula recently has been repaved, leaving room for a broad bike lane. The entrance to the park now has a gatehouse and the new parking lot has spaces for about 90 vehicles.
We parked and joined the crowd gathering around the new picnic pavilion dedicated to Rick Anthony, the former director of Anne Arundel County’s Department of Recreation and Parks. Anthony has moved on to another post in California but returned with his family to accept the honor along with a special citation from County Executive Steuart Pittman for his leadership in planning the park renovation.
Beverly Triton Nature Park was once part of two adjacent beach resorts restricted to whites only. One gate had a sign on it explicitly listing the races and nationalities that were not welcome. The owners closed the sites in 1968 when a court ruled that the resorts could no longer be segregated. In the 1980s, a plan to build more than 2,000 luxury units went bust after the developer couldn’t get the county to provide sewer service.
In 1985, under the leadership of then County Executive O. James Lighthizer and Council President Virginia Clagett, the county procured $3.2 million in Program Open Space funding to buy the property. This is a program managed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, designed to provide funds to acquire outdoor recreation and open space areas for public use.
At the time, Lighthizer focused the county’s resources on developing Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis and he let Beverly Triton go fallow. It was open to the public a few years ago as a passive-use park with few amenities. Then, Rick Anthony worked with the surrounding community organizations to create a plan to upgrade the site to the status of a regional park on par with Quite Waters and Downs Park in Pasadena.
Construction began last year and the project is near completion with an investment of less than $5 million.
After the ceremony, Millie and I joined Pittman on a walk down to the beach. We passed the bathhouse that’s still under construction. It’s slated for completion in June. When we got to the beach, we met a young mother and her two little kids, who were playing in the sand. The mom told the county executive that the park has the kids’ seal of approval.
A whole fleet of kayakers who had come to attend the event were heading out between the jetties. One of the nicest amenities of the park is the canoe and kayak launch. You can drive your car down to the beach, offload your boat, then return your vehicle to the parking lot.
It was slick calm that day, as the watermen say. The sun glittered off of the flat surface of the bay. You can see across the mouth of the West River and, beyond that, the low tree line of the Eastern Shore. An osprey made a crash dive, but came up without a fish in its talons. When the wind blows, this is the ideal spot for kiteboarders.
Millie and I left the county executive and strolled down the mile or so of beach. Another osprey perched in a tree, giving Millie the evil eye. We had the beach all to ourselves, but when we scooted up the bank to walk on one of the trails, we happened to bump into Lofton and his wife, Sherrie. We strolled together for a short while. Beverly Triton Nature Park comprises 340 acres of oak and holly forest surrounding four large tidal ponds. There are five miles of trails, and, outside of new trail markers, they haven’t changed with the renovation.
The Morning Sun
Get your morning news in your e-mail inbox. Get all the top news and sports from the baltimoresun.com.
This is a good thing, and so is having a park that provides county citizens with access to the water.
Lofton likes to quote the late outdoor writer Bill Burton, who noted that people protect and care for the things that they love, and you can’t fall in love with the Chesapeake Bay if you can’t see it, touch it, swim in it, fish in it or launch a boat on it.
“Access for all is essential if the Chesapeake is to be restored,” Lofton told the crowd at the opening ceremony.
1202 Triton Beach Road
Edgewater, MD 21037
Open daily from 7 a.m. to dusk.
There is no admission for now, but eventually there will be a $6/vehicle charge.
- During the summer months Beverly Triton Nature Park can reach capacity on weekends between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Plan smart and arrive early or later in the day. If the park is at capacity no more people will be allowed inside even if part of your party has already arrived. Plan to arrive together.
- Portable toilets are available on site for use until the permanent bathhouse opens in June.
- Drinking water is not available on site.
- Dogs are welcome on a leash.