Turn west off Route 2 just south of Annapolis, and spice seems to be the variety of life. Straight ahead is Tarragon Lane. Off to either side are Cardamon Drive, Saffron Place, Thyme Drive, Coriander Place, Cassia Court and Fennel Road.
Blame it on a nearby tributary, Ginger Creek. Then on the developers. "We had to research names that had not been used," explained Mary Ann Decker, who with her former husband, Ralph P. Decker, began building houses in the area 28 years ago. "But I didn't use paprika. I don't like paprika."
Even without a Paprika Place, there are some distinctive addresses in Gingerville, a self-reliant community of 157 families that forms a committee and organizes for almost any eventuality:
When the cost of hiring a company to operate the community swimming pool began eating up half the community association's annual budget, volunteers stepped forward to do the work.
When an access road needed improvement, a resident knew where to get the gravel.
When nearby commercial development began approaching, a zoning committee began a drive for buffer areas.
But in Gingerville, where yawning yards and towering hardwood trees are the norm, some residents don't consider this unusual.
"It's not a big social community in the sense of some others," said Joseph A. Jockel, a retired U.S. Navy captain who has lived in Gingerville since 1973. "There is the swimming pool and the tennis courts and softball field. We do have a Fourth of July parade that's like something out of Norman Rockwell, and the picnics on Memorial Day and Labor Day, and the caroling at Christmas."
Real estate agent Sy Bishop considers Gingerville something of an anomaly in the boat-obsessed Annapolis area.
"It's one of the few really popular non-waterfront communities here," Bishop said. "It's a nice place to live with good access to Washington and Baltimore," where many of the residents work. House prices in Gingerville range from $200,000 to $425,000, Bishop said.
Lawrence Wachs, who commutes to work at the Agriculture Department in the District, said many residents make long commitments to Gingerville, some "trading up" through two or three houses. The reason, he said, can be traced to the developer.
When Mary Ann and Ralph Decker began building houses in Gingerville in 1962, they built far back at the end of the only street, Tarragon Lane, so land near Route 2 could continue to be farmed. Building a few houses each year, they ultimately were directly responsible for nearly 85 percent of the homes.
During the long development, the Deckers lived in Gingerville and raised four children. That, residents say, made a big difference to home buyers.
"That provided the homeowners with a great deal of confidence," said Wachs, who bought his house on Cardamon Drive in 1973. "Builders often live a long distance away with an unlisted telephone number. I don't know anybody unhappy with a Decker house."
Wachs, president of the community association, said Gingerville numbers among its residents many doctors, attorneys, teachers and retired military officers.
Wachs presides over an annual budget of about $20,000 raised through $110 assessments on each property. The money goes into such functions as mowing the common grounds and upkeep at the swimming pool and the adjacent community pond, where the nearly 100 neighborhood children fish for stocked bass and catfish in the summer and ice skate in the winter.
The association also produces several publications, including a community newsletter, appropriately called the Spice Sheet. In the back of the community telephone book may be found listings of teenagers offering to baby-sit or mow lawns.
But there is a serious side to Gingerville, which once was isolated from urban cares. The concerns of the community association come to the surface when discussion turns to nearby development, particularly in the nearby Parole area, where nearly 3 million square feet of office and retail development is planned.
"We've battled the problem of preventing the unchecked strip zoning along Route 2," said Jockel, who now works for a civil engineering design firm. "Several office parks are being built and we're being almost surrounded by commercial development."
Jockel acknowledges that recent environmental limits on waterfront construction have forced developers to look elsewhere in fast-growing Annapolis. "We've been winning the battles but we may lose the war eventually," he said.
Already, Wachs said, he rises early on Saturday mornings to complete errands in the Annapolis Mall area by 10 a.m., before traffic gets too congested. For now, he said, an association committee is keeping close tabs on planning and zoning decisions by Anne Arundel County that affect Gingerville.
"We're progressive enough to understand that we can't stop development, but we can make sure we have large buffer strips between our community and development," Wachs said.
Mary Ann Decker, who recently moved from Gingerville, said the one entrance into the community still lends a "protective" feeling. "It always seemed that the arm of trees just wrapped around you," she said.