We used to go away every year for our anniversary when we were first married. We never went far, exploring towns and places that were only an hour or two drive from home. Most of the time we took Jack with us.
In the past five years or so, we stopped going. The recession has been challenging our resources of time, energy and money...and so we just kept saying, "not this year".
But this year, Jim had a plan. Last Friday, he surprised me by taking off work and whisking me away to a private cottage retreat in Rock Hall, MD.
Rock Hall is a pretty small town on the Upper Chesapeake Bay...it's not far at all from Baltimore by boat. In fact, most visit this fishing town by sailboat from Baltimore or Annapolis. But to get there by car takes a bit longer since you have to cross over the Bay Bridge and the Chester River, pass over a few creeks, and travel around a bunch of necks and inlets to get there.
As we got further away from the main roads, there wasn't a chain store to be found. And most of the towns consisted of a few buildings clustered around the crossroads at a stoplight...I hadn't seen that since I lived in Texas.
And another planned surprise was that our little cottage was not only surrounded by water but was just outside the entrance to the Eastern Neck Wildlife Refuge. I wasn't prepared to take a lot of pictures but did manage to snap a few on the last day.
The refuge was largely empty of people but chock full of migratory birds. The refuge was full of Eastern blue birds, cormorants, herons, geese (!)... but the best surprise of all...was the murmuration of a mixed flock of starlings, red-winged blackbirds and brown-headed cowbirds that we witnessed.
I know those European starlings are not great friends to our indigenous species, but you sure forget that when you see them dance as a black cloud in the sky. There must have been a million birds that descended on the refuge and put on a show for us as we soaked in the cacophony of bird squawk. I have a project featuring a starling on my "to do" list and I think this past weekend sent the message that it should come next after Mrs. Rose.
We saw a bald eagle and a few migrating butterflies. I did catch this shot of a Mourning Cloak butterfly. I had never seen one before.
And down by the water, it was a so beautiful to see and hear the late season bay grasses sway in the wind...
They really have a beautiful movement when they blow in the wind.
I noticed that many of the local residents placed these bay grasses on their front door posts instead of the cornstalks we more commonly see around home.
And, for a bay that is finally seeing a restoration of its oyster beds thanks to the works of many conservation groups, it was great to eat oysters and see their shells littering the "beach"...
All in all it was a quiet weekend of reconnection...and we came back renewed, and re-newly wed.
Thank you Jimmy for a wonder-full weekend. Happy 17th Anniversary.
I am one lucky girl.