Last night, I sat on the lawn at Liriodendron Mansion, historic home to Dr. Howard Atwood Kelly and his family. Liriodendron now serves as a premier arts and wedding venue. It sits on 100 acres where Dr. Kelly (1858 – 1943) , his wife and nine children found respite every summer. The rest of the year the family lived in Baltimore City, near Johns Hopkins Medical School where he maintained his professional life.
The entertainment of the evening was a Celtic band called Gaelic Mishap. Their music was enough to put a jig in anyone’s step. One song this Celtic band had to offer was a blend of what sounded to me like You Raise Me Up and a traditional much loved Irish song, Oh Danny Boy. And of course, Irish shanty’s are enough to get any fan of Gaelic tunes stomping their feet and clapping. And the more the crowd participated, the tempo increased with fast fiddling and guitar strumming.
I inhaled it all, including the woodsy smell of the embracing oaks and tulip poplars. I also detected a spicy odor akin to cloves, it’s source I couldn’t quite identify. I even noticed the natural-color open weave summer sweater of the woman fiddling. It put me in mind of Irish lace blowing in the breeze in a wee cottage window in County Limerick.
Dr. Kelly would have been oh so pleased to see the little children running around the grounds where he brought his children to enjoy nature. One was a amateur photographer ,about 5 years old, who had a rather sophisticated camera for such a young one. She was pointing out to her older brother where to stand for picture-worthy snapshots. Another little boy was running races with his grandma, and other youngsters played a game of catch the ball.
In contemporary times, much research has been done beyond Dr. Kelly’s “pioneering thoughts” which he wrote, lectured and preached about on the relationship between faith and nature and how they contribute to healing and the wholesomeness of ones spirit.
When you visit the mansion, take time to walk about grounds, look at the magnificent Georgian-style architecture and the wisteria arbor. See if you can identify the jack-in-the-pulpit, the cinnamon ferns, the ancient magnolia tree and search for acorns. Quietly absorb the beautiful surroundings.
I left the venue last evening feeling lighthearted and a restored sense of energy. The concert was made possible through grants, sponsorship and support from the Liriodendron Foundation, Inc. as well as the Maryland State Arts Council, the Harford County Cultural Arts Board, Barry Glassman, County Executive and Music Land,