I’m starting to believe, in good Proustian fashion, that every vacation needs a jaunt to the countryside. Perhaps it was the break I took from Paris to the Ile-de-Re? Or maybe it is just my new fascination with anything delicious and edible in backwater locations.
Long ramblings short, while I was in D.C., we went to a place called Ridge, Maryland, home of nothing in particular but rambling fields, an gorgeous river views, talk of 1812 battles, and searches for blue water crabs.
We had decided we wanted to go to St. Mary’s County, which is home of both a crab festival and an oyster festival. Nothing spoke to me more than going to the source and eating those crazy sea creatures day after day, while boating in the Patuxent River or the Chesapeake Bay.
After some research, we decided to stay at a place called Woodlawn, which is a restored 17th century manor house with adjacent modern cottages. It was perfect luck – the cottages were extremely comfortable, the location absolutely beautiful and the owners very accomodating. It also turns out they also own a winery nearby and provide tastings to guests. Given that I had no expectations for Maryland wine, I was completely taken aback by how nice they were. Their winery, Slack Wines, had just started bottling last year.
But what else can I say? When you’re roaming around the banks of rivers, eating figs off the trees nearby, and occasionally jumping in and out of kayaks, there’s not a whole lot to life that can get better.
Of course, the kayaking was a little more epic than I desired. At one point, my rudder got stuck and my paddling only pushed me farther afield. As I started drifting down the river, the current ever steady, I started shrieking to the delight of my brothers. I thought about jumping out and just swimming, but I kept seeing a laconic jellyfish appear, ever delicate, ever dangerous. Luckily, everything was resolved, with only a blister to be had.
I didn’t bring my camera when I went out kayaking (most of these photos are from another day), but we paddled out to a sandbar where the Patuxent and the Chesapeake met. There on the sandy beach you could see for miles – sailboats drifting farther down the river, big commercial boats far off, and then the occasional shriek from a hawk or osprey above. We stood, feeling like explorers ourselves, as we dragged our kayaks along and looked at the horizon, the next landscape to conquer.
Paddling back, I knew I belonged to water. The calm one gets drifting along. The power of dragging your kayak up a muddy bank and lifting it up a steep incline. It’s hard not to get caught up in the imagination of our fore bearers and wonder what qualities we have taken from them. My French Canadian ancestors are laughing at the thought.