I was an awkward, frizzy-haired (pixie cut with bangs, no less!) twelve-year-old when my family moved and to this day I can remember sitting at the back of my new sixth-grade class in a conspicuously new and dorky wool jumper, cringing as the sea of heads in front of me turned to stare as the teacher introduced me.
It was the worst of times. But in retrospect, it was the best of times, because it was somewhere toward the end of that year that I met Nancy, who in junior and then senior high, was to become my best friend and partner in whatever crimes we might have to commit in order to get out of Elkhart, Indiana.
Since we live (mostly) on opposite coasts, we don’t see each other often, but as I planned our recent stay in St. Michael’s, I realized it couldn’t be all that far away from where Nancy and her husband, Zane, live on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. I’ve been hearing for years about their rural retreat in Worton, Maryland, and now we finally had a chance to visit!
Nancy provided my reading recommendations for our trip (Michener’s Chesapeake and the Pulitzer-Prize-winning Beautiful Swimmers). She also suggested we take a drive from St. Michael’s down to Tilghman Island, where we had a view table for dinner at the Tilghman Island Inn and our best-yet sighting of an osprey family.
The next morning, we packed up and set out for the metropolis of Chestertown, Maryland, pop. 5,254, where we met Nancy and Zane for lunch and, yes, discussed the fact that Elkhart, Indiana is an urban jungle compared to their community. Life can be so very ironic. And, for the record, Nancy and Zane are very, very happy in their pastoral paradise.
We had an amazing lunch at Chestertown’s Brooks Tavern. It’s worth a trip to the East coast for their Carolina Crepe.
After lunch, they took us on a tour of Chestertown, which is home to prestigious Washington College, a reproduction of the HMS Sultana and a historical footnote as the town that followed in Boston’s footsteps with their own tea party in 1774.
Then we headed into the countryside (which looked precisely like the outskirts of Elkhart, IN!) and wound up a narrow tree-canopied road to Nancy and Zane’s 20+ acre country retreat. They say they live on a “creek”, but it looked like a river to me. They are perched high enough above the water that the bald eagles fly below their roof line.
The CE is still waxing rhapsodic about the house, which Zane designed in his spare time while running a WDC ad agency. They have deer in their front yard, a dock and pontoon boat on the water below, and 24/7 tranquility. Nice life!
Fortified with homemade ice cream and cookies, we took our leave and mapped our route onward to Philadelphia. It was easier to say goodbye knowing that we get to look forward to Nancy and Zane’s upcoming visit to California in the fall.
Thanks, guys! See you soon!