Boardwalk, Bay Breeze, Book.
Daughter is hunting sharks’ teeth.
Book, Bay Breeze, Boardwalk.
Why Birds Love the Bay
The Bay and the bird species that visit it each year came into being together.
As the glaciers retreated northward at the end of the last ice age (their meltwater slowly creating the Bay), the distance birds had to travel between over-wintering sites and summer breeding grounds gradually increased.
Over thousands and thousands of years that growing distance — and the resting spots essential to traversing it successfully — became imprinted as migratory routes in the DNA of hundreds of bird species.
When you look at the Chesapeake Bay today you are looking at something a migrating bird knows and recognizes as an infant does its mother’s face.
Columbus Day is one of my favorite holidays because it comes with zero baggage. Just a day off in the midst of the most beautiful month, October. This year the holiday fell a bit earlier than usual, so it coincided with one of my favorite liturgical events: Worldwide Communion Day. So it was a great weekend.
At Western Presbyterian Church we had the usual choir and organ music, always wonderful, plus an Andean flute and drum player. The postlude was a rendition of Paul Simon’s “I’d Rather Be A Hammer Than a Nail.” How much fun is that? I watched a tidy white-haired gentlemen wearing a red bow-tie keep the beat.
For the “Sharing Faith with Children” portion of the service I showed the children the world’s “widest” communion table, which is made of balsa wood and measures 3 inches by 6 inches. But there’s a balsa wood Jesus with his arms open wide, which makes the table big enough to stretch around the world for WorldWIDE Communion Sunday.
The last time we were there (in June) we were driven away by the excessive heat (100 degrees) and this time it got down to 50 degrees. Fortunately we had an electric heater for our little tent and we survived. In the morning I put on my wet shoes and a slicker and searched for shark’s teeth along the shoreline. The water of the bay was much warmer than the falling rain.
For three hours I enjoyed the sound of the waves and the wind, the sight of gulls and kingfishers and herons, and the feel of the water as my eyes search for a certain size and shape amid the pebbles on the beach. It’s kind of like doing a jigsaw puzzle, but instead of sitting at the dining room table, you’re on the beach. And oh, it refills my tank!
This week we went camping along the Chesapeake Bay at Breezy Point. We had 3 empty campsites on either side of us and a whole stretch of beach to ourselves. It was bliss, except for the extreme heat! I spent the morning and evening hours searching for sharks’ teeth on the sand and at the edge of the water. I found a good number, about 100. Two of them were bigger than an inch, but most of the rest were very small.
Along the shoreline was a series of rock jetties. We had the entire area inside two jetties to ourselves.Â Each evening we swam as the sun was setting. After avoiding the sun all day (movies and the public library) we were eager to plunge into the cool water, which was murky and brackish, but just the right amount of saltiness. We kept our eyes open for jellyfish, and were glad that there weren’t too many visible. We also kept an eager watch for osprey, and were lucky enough to watch one plunge into the water and catch a fish, then carry it to her nest, high over our heads. Osprey are so much more appealing than seagulls!
One evening I had just gotten in the water alone when the water rippled near me and a stingray surfaced. He scooted himself along the surface in front of me, the way they do, almost like a flying fish. His sting ray was straight up behind him, like a length of barbed wire. I wasn’t sure if I had surprised him, or if he was trying to warn me. My heart was beating very fast. The sting ray circled me, going between me and the shore, which seemed terrifying!
A few moments later my husband joined me in the water. We each felt a bump at about knee level, as another (or the same) sting ray came along. A few moments later another sting ray actually swam beneath my husband’s feet, making him jump.Â We decided it was time to get out of their way while they finished eating their supper!
I sat on the shore and watched the water. I love how you catch sight of a ray and by that time it’s gone. I love the flurry they make, as if they’re tussling with a fish, or with their sister who’s trying to steal their dinner. I make up stories in my head about what’s happening, although I don’t really know.
When I was in Belize we went snorkeling four times in two days. One time I was alone for a moment, swimming slowly back toward the boat, when I saw an enormous leopard-spotted sting ray far below me and swimming away. I kept my head below the surface and swam after him. He seemed to notice me and circled back. He was as big as me, easily 5 or 6 feet around, and one of the most graceful sights I have ever seen. We went in a big slow circle around each other. I could clearly see his eyes, and the openings in his velvet coat. He rippled like a wave, like a dancer, like a spirit. Circling that sting ray was one of the most thrilling moments of my life and has given me a tremendous fondness for the animals. Our guide cautioned me afterward, but I never regretted what I did.
What fun it was to swim with the sting rays again! Too bad the water was too murky to follow them better.
Oh, and do you know how our water fun ended this week? We took the inflatable sailboat out and the wind died down. As we pulled the boat back to shore, Doug got stung by a jellyfish. Oh my! The red marks wrapped nearly the whole way around his middle! Breaking camp quickly and in the heat was really quite awful. Thank goodness for Benadryl, and soft-serve ice cream on the way home!
This morning I watched the sun rise over the Chesapeake Bay.
Even if I had not posted this picture as proof, the fact is that I did indeed watch the sun rise over the Chesapeake Bay.
Even if I had not watched the sunrise with my own eyes, as proof, the fact is that the sun would indeed have risen over the Chesapeake Bay this morning.
During Spring Break, my husband and I took an overnight trip to southern Maryland. We headed to one of the beaches we frequent in Calvert County, where we look for sharks’ teeth along the Chesapeake Bay. It was quite cold, and since only one beach was open, it was surprisingly crowded. We enjoyed the 2 mile walk to the beach, a little scrounging along the water, and the 2 mile walk back.
Then we decided to adventure further. We drove west, across the bridge over the Patuxent River, to St. Mary’s City, which is a great historic site. We toured the buildings and got a refresher course on some Maryland history, which, if you live in Virginia, is curiously under-learned.
Then, on the spur of the moment, and following my dim memory from a few years ago, we checked the internet and called a Bed & Breakfast called Woodlawn, in Ridge, MD. They had a room.
Woodlawn sits on an inlet that connects to the Potomac River during low tide. The grounds leading to it are extensive and beautiful. The estate house has four original fireplaces, one in each of the bottom rooms. The breakfast room has been added on, with another fireplace.
The owner and I talked about the house, and came up with a really exciting idea for my entrepreneurial daughter. She creates historical role-playing parties for adults. Imagine creating a mystery party for a specific location such as this, drawing on the local history? People could enjoy a themed dinner and enact the mystery — which could sprawl through all four rooms of the house — sipping the estate-made wine. Folks could then spend the night. There’s a lot of possibility here.
That night we stayed in the historic house, in the suite that fronts on the river. We paddled a canoe around the inlet, finding our way through the sandbars and out to the Potomac. We saw a number of herons and birds of prey.
We had dinner at a local place, so of course we had crab. Then we sat in big white adirondack chairs on the lawn, drinking wine that had been made by the owner, under his label, Slack.
In the morning we chatted with the innkeeper, a young man from Burundi. We spent half an hour learning about his home country, his journey so far, his hopes and dreams for the future. He fixed me some scrambled eggs since I can’t eat pancakes. We drank a pot of delicious coffee.
After another paddle around the inlet in a very strong wind, we headed south to investigate Point Lookout, which has some astounding Civil War history and a great fishing pier.
Then we headed north to Piney Point, where you can see the enormous pipeline and tanks that store oil from tankers. There’s also a lighthouse and museum. The day was sunny and cold, so when we laid on the beach we got toasty.
Amazing how a 48-hour trip can feel like a week!