A summer day on the Chesapeake Bay: Our Alberg 30, Seawind, sails the wind, full and by.
I don't resent these long-anticipated, languid days of summer that everyone is now complaining about. Amongst the press of book promotion, home-improvement projects, lawn mowing, and tending my few flowers I, with noticeably little effort, convinced a couple of new friends of ours to out flank the heat by go sailing with us.
Lassitude is the operative word when the temperature and humidity rise up to slap-your-face levels and you can taste the first dish of summer, spicy-hot in the nose. A friend of mine, ever the word smithy, used to say about summer: "It's not the heat that gets you, it's the humility."
But we denied both humility and humidity on this day and set sail with great pride and some fanfare for a day out plying a light breeze. A little wind in the sails, a glass of wine, and some excellent conversation was the way to start the summer off.
The Pocomoke River: Our Little Amazon
But the Bay is bright, the light glaring, the water salty, and the air heat-saturated. Was there another place to go for some relief? I had always wanted to stretch out my local boating adventures and go farther from home and had been eyeing the Pocomoke River, about a forty-minute drive north of us, just across the Maryland border. After sorting out a couple of pesky boating glitches (registering the trailer, paying $1500 to get the outboard working right) we were ready. We packed a lunch, hitched the boat to the truck, and headed up the road to Shad Landing State Park.
Lovely stuff, this place--a real paradise for the heat-tormented, especially if you're eager to be rid both heat and people. The park is situated in a big, dark forest and the headquarters/camp store are right on the river. There's a fine, protected little marina tucked back off the river itself and best of all, there was no one there.
But the river itself is the thing: its deep, cool water is brackish and dark brown from the tannic acid that leaches from the cypress bogs. A nearly unbroken wall of tall, green trees along the banks hides you from humanity and makes it easy to imagine you somehow took a wrong turn and ended up in the wilds of Borneo or Amazonia. And the river is seventy-three miles long, so there's enough room to wander all day and not see what is around every bend.
And then we found the country club. Such a thing: unobtrusive, the clubhouse barely visible amongst the trees, and a sign that said, "Boaters Welcome," a rare offering for a country club. We regretted the 18-hole golf course that was invisible from the river but rumored to have been carved out of the surrounding forest. We did appreciate, however, the cool bar with inexpensive wine. After a glass of Pino Grigio and a pleasant chat with the bar tender, the golf pro, and a fellow-retired teacher who apparently spends much of his free time astride a bar stool there, we were back out on the water where we shut the engine off and drifted with the incoming tidal current. We swam, we watched bald eagles, we congratulated ourselves on our find: Paradise within paradise.
Between boating adventures, I do have a summertime job: Promoting my new novel, Brothers of the Fire Star. Here I am on the porch of the Eastville Inn. The book will be officially released in October.