2/13/1014 Looking for Love in all the Right Places

Main Line Times Column, Places We Love

Cold winter, warm hearts?  This season, perhaps more than ever, we are all in need of finding a little love in our own backyards.  The best way to enjoy a place you love is with a little company.  This week I’d like to share a few places loved by the staff of the Lower Merion Conservancy that might inspire your love of history, the environment, and open space.

As my major professor always said, “people count!”  One of the more interesting stories of the season is how the epic storms have brought people together, virtually and in person.  In my own home, I had great fun hosting a good friend and her dogs who were out of power for a week.  At the Conservancy, we gratefully shared office space with our friends at HDR Engineering in Conshohocken until our power came back.  Neighbors checking on each other, fire fighters converting their firehouses into warming places (a great name!), and virtual support via the Lower Merion Community Network have all helped to warm the heart.

In the spirit of togetherness, I asked the education, conservation, and historic preservation staff at the Lower Merion Conservancy to share some places they love that we can all still enjoy this time of year.

Chelsea Heck, the Conservancy’s Education Coordinator, is often found surrounded by children holding up an interesting insect that they found during a forest, stream or meadow lesson.  The place Chelsea loves is right outside our office front door.  “When there is so much snow on the ground people tend to shy away from taking walks in the woods. I find winter to be one of the best times to get out and explore local parks. With only the few brave souls venturing out in the cold, it also makes this time of year the most peaceful in the parks.  Rolling Hill Park is one park that is littered with ruins and stone walls that seem to only appear with the hibernating forests. With each twist and turn of the trail, new discoveries can be found.”

The Conservancy’s Conservation Coordinator, Patrick Gardner, is our eye on the streams and forests as he manages our StreamWatch and BirdWatch programs as well as other environmental initiatives.  Patrick describes a place where the Conservancy has partnered with Lower Merion Township to improve local stream banks.  “One place I love is Shortridge Memorial Park. The park is a great place for neighbors to reconnect to nature by strolling through one of the few remaining Hemlock stands in Lower Merion or sitting by the East Branch of Indian Creek as it peacefully meanders through the middle of the park. The park is also a great place to spot the birds that make Shortridge Memorial Park their winter home.”

JulieAnn Murphy, the Conservancy’s Historic Preservation Coordinator, is approaching her first anniversary with the Conservancy.  JulieAnn’s exposure to the rich history of our community has been inspiring.  The recent discovery of a log cabin in Bryn Mawr during a stucco restoration project was particularly gripping.  “The thing I love most about Lower Merion is that there is so much to discover. It is a place where the evidence of the past sits in harmony with the present – where one can stumble upon a silo that was once part of a forgotten estate or a log cabin that was covered in siding for as long as anyone can remember. As I learn more about the area, I am continually amazed at the gems that are hidden in the landscape.”

As we brace for another potential foot of snow we encourage you to get creative and look for ways to enjoy the places you love, particularly with good company.

Patty Thompson is the Executive Director of the Lower Merion Conservancy and can be reached at patty@lmconservancy.org