Ah, the pleasures of walking a new neighborhood.
I'm in Annapolis visiting a friend who lives in Eastport, which she tells me is a peninsula moments before I leave on a walk this morning. While it's not my first visit here, it is my first time being told this nugget of information.
I set out with directions and the caveat that since water surrounds us on three sides, I can't really screw this up. Sure enough, mere blocks in, I look down a cross street and see blue water and masts bobbing. When the street I'm on dead ends, it's at the water and my view includes at least a dozen small sailboats in a cluster. Sailing camp, perhaps?
The neighborhood is a charming mix of architecture styles - cottages, bungalows, town houses, ranchers- and eras. The dated ranchers look straight out of the '60s and the town homes have the boring design and white plastic fences that scream 21st century.
What charms me are the historical marker signs that clue me in to Eastport's history.
I admire the oldest house (1876) because, like my parents' house, it has had many lives, including as a grocery store and currently as a B & B. Built by a German immigrant, the house stayed in the family for 72 years before selling out.
Another gem is a row of town houses built by the owner of Annapolis Glassworks to house his employees. Given the decidedly English stucco look of them, I'm hardly surprised that the man was English. In fact, he chose the name Eastport for the area because it was the name of the town he came from in England.
What I'm noticing as I walk is how very beach-like it feels around here. Clearly, many of the houses were originally built as weekend getaway places. Some even have signs with the house's name mounted on them: Shore Thing, Dog View. Kayaks and water playthings dot many yards.
Yards are small here and most are filled with fabulous perennial gardens which appear to be about a month behind Richmond because today lilies and honeysuckle are in bloom and both are way past their prime at home.
I went for a second walk this evening before we left for dinner and this time I pass an enormous farmhouse that once was the centerpiece of the 'hood. Now it's (sadly) divided into apartments.
Once again at the water, I find a tiny street-end park where a man is throwing a ball for his tireless dog who swims out to fetch while we chat, the sound of lapping water is the only other sound.
Just ahead of me when I get back to the street where my friend lives is a guy carrying a fishing rod and swinging a bucket as he sings out loud. My feeling is he's had a good day fishing.
Dinner is at Cantler's for crabs and we choose an outside table beside the river (creek?) for the view. We manage to polish off three extra large crabs each before the wind kicks up and droplets of rain begin to fall.
No problem, we're under a canopy. But when thunder and lightening start, the staff requests we move inside. Reluctantly, I agree because I am totally loving eating crabs outside in a thunderstorm.
The crowd of regulars at the bar welcome us in as we schlep our remaining crabs and drinks inside to finish out the evening in over-air conditioned discomfort. Man, I hate being cold in summer, but now that it's raining cats and dogs, what choice do we have?
The trade off is the quirky bunch we chat with: Phil, who has a boat maintenance business catering to the carriage trade (as in, what recession?), Mike, whose career working for a Canadian furniture company took him to the drug-ridden cities of South and Central America, and Bob.
Bob was interesting right off the bat because his drink was full of slices of English cucumber brought from his own garden, but also because after he retired, he fished for a living. "Just me, my rod and a boat," he said.
When he told me he once caught 828 pounds of rockfish in two days and two hours, I was impressed. "That's why I told you, so you'd be impressed." Well done, sir.
Coming home through downtown Annapolis, I spot a guy stretched out on the brick wall in front of the Naval Academy, couples hand in hand down by the dock. It's a gorgeous night now that the torrential rain has given way to cool air and frogs croaking.
Yellow flags fly here saying, "Maritime Republic of Eastport. We like it this way." As it stands right now, I totally agree.