Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Ship Shape

Captain's Log, August 8, Easptort, Maryland

Visiting the Maritime Republic of Eastport - and, yes, that's what residents call this place and what's emblazoned on their flag because of course they have their own flag to differentiate themselves from the residents of Annapolis - for a couple of days guarantees a good time.

Across from my friend's house is a heavily shaded lot on which sits an odd Tudor-ish house, part brick and painted in places a dated, stale green. When I comment how out of place it looks for this waterfront community, my friend says it's the home of James Gamble of Procter & Gamble.

"He's a hoarder!" she shares and looking at the off-kilter, faded, plaid curtains in the front windows, it's not hard to imagine the neglected -looking house as stuffed with the detritus of a lifetime or more.

And soap, lots of dried out bars of soap, I'd imagine.

At the end of her street, a mere three houses down and just past the Annapolis School of Seamanship, is Back Creek, so each time she arrives home, she has a water view. I was terribly impressed with that until she reminded me that Eastport is a promontory, so I can walk in 3 of 4 directions and be at the water.

Still, that view would make me happy every time I was outside.

Come dinnertime, she asked where I wanted to eat and while I love the  restaurants of Chef Cindy Wolf she's taken me to, I wanted to go eat crabs riverside. Never mind that a half dozen large crabs cost more than my utility bills combined because Cantlers gets some monster crabs.

Before we even began cracking them open, I inhaled a bowl of Maryland crab soup thick with vegetables and crab while she went for a special of jambalaya. We followed that with tastes of a crab pretzel, a distinctly Annapolis creation that I'd seen on another menu but just can't get behind.

I see no reason to slather a perfectly good hot pretzel with crab dip and then drown it in melted cheese. How can you appreciate any of those elements that way?

The sky was too cloudy to see the full moon, not that we didn't try, although it was enough to appreciate dusk settling in over the river and watch the shadows fade to darkness, the white hulls of the boats still visible long after the sun set.

Walking back through the dining room, I paused to read a tabletop, or, more precisely, read a 1986 newspaper article encased in yellowed epoxy adhered to a table that had doubtless been whacked zillions of times by crab-eaters.

Bent over, intent on enjoying the dated journalism, a man walks up to me and announces that I must be an athlete. Um, no, anything but, sir, I tell him, but he's not convinced. "Well, with a figure that great, you must do something!" he insists. "Do you play tennis?"

As if. Would you accept walk? Just as I'm reaching for a pithy comeback, my friend calls me over to the bar to introduce me to John, an older man she's just met. Or so she thinks.

Laying eyes on John and his glass stuffed with slices of cucumber, I recognize him immediately. He was sitting at the end of the bar a year ago when I was in and we both met him then.

She has no memory of this while mine is crystal clear, but she's been to Cantlers countless times while I've been only on 6 or 7 occasions, noting more than once that all the men here look like they can fix a diesel engine, if you know what I mean.

I think it's just part of the Eastport mystique, like sleeping with the windows open so I can hear masts clanging gently against each other all night.

Walking through the parking lot, we overhear a man ask his two companions, "Aren't you glad you didn't order just crabs? You'd still be hungry if you had. You can thank me later."

I could have taken a moment to point out that the only people who walk away from eating crabs still hungry are amateurs and that the only way to move beyond that status is to eat crabs as often as possible, but my friend shook her head.

No good reason to harsh a maritime mellow.

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