Peachblossom Creek
 
Peachblossom Creek may have lost its peach trees, but two visitors discover that its quiet beauty is undiminished.

by Jean Korten Moser
illustration by Richard C. Goertemiller
    
We were so ready for an anchorage! My husband Carl and I were seven days into our vacation, and we had yet to drop the hook. The blistering heat and the constant threat of severe weather had brought us into marinas every night so we could sleep in air-conditioned comfort and skip the late-night anchor watches as storms blew through.

But not today. For the first time in days there was only a slight chance of rain, the humidity had dropped, and the wind was blowing abeam rather than on our nose or dead astern. We had a delightful sail on Amazing Grace, our Caliber 38, scooting across the Choptank River at nearly seven knots, thanks to a stiff southwest wind. Our plan was to spend the weekend in Oxford at a Caliber rendezvous, but first we had decided to explore Peachblossom Creek, one of the Tred Avon River's many picturesque hidey holes.

It was early afternoon when we rounded the large spider mark at the entrance to the Tred Avon and turned north. The wind was directly behind us now, and no matter how hard we tried, we could not get our genoa to fly wing-on-wing. Reluctantly, we took in the foresail and continued upriver at a more leisurely pace under mainsail alone. Past the Tred Avon Yacht Club, past a half-dozen sailboats moored off the Strand, past the Oxford-Bellevue ferry. By the time we passed Town Creek, our speed was down to less than three knots. Time to take down the main and turn on the iron genny.

We were in uncharted territory now. In all of the years we had been sailing on the Bay, only once had we ventured past Town Creek, and then only as far as Plaindealing Creek, directly across the Tred Avon. This time we had wanted a quiet, scenic, uncrowded place to spend the night; a place where we would be protected from south winds and possible late-day thunderstorms, but which was open enough that we would have a breeze--a prerequisite in the 90-plus-degree heat. Of the three creeks off the Tred Avon beyond Town Creek--Goldsborough, Trippe and Peachblossom--we chose Peach-blossom, not only because of its beautiful name, but because we thought that since it was the northernmost it might be the least populated and therefore the quietest.

For an hour we continued up the river toward Easton. Past red "8", then "10" and "12" we went, taking care not to go near the shoals to starboard, especially so close to low tide. About 100 yards before "16", we made our turn into Peachblossom Creek, taking it slow to avoid what the chart showed as submerged pilings off the north shore (in fact, we could see the pilings breaking the surface) and a pair of unknown obstructions near the entrance. Trees lined both sides of the creek, interspersed with expansive green lawns that fronted widely spaced homes, many of which were traditional looking Cape Cods with dormers.

About a third of a mile in, past a pillared white mansion with seven Adirondack chairs on the south shore (I immediately thought of Tara,  because I'm a Gone with the Wind fan) and just before Le Gates Cove on the north shore, we turned into the wind and dropped the anchor in eight feet of water. It was almost 2 p.m., and we had the creek all to ourselves. There were no marinas nearby, no personal watercraft buzzing around--no other boats at all except the half-dozen powerboats sitting on lifts at private docks along the creek.

Once we were settled in, I had time to look around and wonder why it was called Peach-blossom Creek. There wasn't a peach tree in sight. The story, I discovered later, is that in 1670, an Englishman named George Robins settled on a 1,000-acre tract of land, where he planted the first peach orchard on the Eastern Shore. The beautiful pink blossoms were such a novelty that people came from miles around to see them. Robins's home and the creek were named for the lovely peach blossoms too. The trees were eventually lost to a devastating blight, and Robins's home was lost to time. Only the creek's name remains.

Just as we were about to set off in the dinghy to explore, a speedboat came tearing into the creek and headed for the Maryland Route 333/Oxford Road bridge, about a mile and a half up the creek. After checking the chart, which showed we had from four to seven feet of water all the way to the bridge, we too headed that direction. Unlike the speedboat, however, we ran aground in two feet of water as we neared a two-story white boathouse on the south shore, about a quarter-mile short of the bridge. Had the speedboat been lucky or did the driver have local knowledge? We paddled back to deeper water and got the engine running again.

By now it was approaching suppertime and the wind had died entirely, though the temperature remained well into the 80s. We donned our swimsuits and dove into Peachblossom Creek's cool, calm water. While Carl dove under the boat, trying to free the knotmeter's impeller, which had been fouled all season, I floated near the stern ladder, watching three young men in a white ski boat take turns tubing in the creek. I was so relaxed, so refreshed, so mellow as I floated peacefully in the calm and tranquil waters, I almost didn't notice the strange, prickly sensation on my leg. Had I touched a weed? Or maybe a fish, or an eel, or a ray? Or was it a jellyfish? I hadn't seen any around before we'd jumped in, but that didn't mean they weren't there. I scrambled back onto the boat, then looked back and saw a good-size nettle close to where I had been floating. So much for swimming.

After dinner we put our Chester River Runoff CD on the stereo and, arm in arm, watched the sun set and the sky turn a deep crimson as the words to "Old Brown" drifted across the water: Think about the future. I think about the past. Learned a long, long time ago that all good days don't last. . . . Don't let go. Don't let go. Back on the road. Back on the road. Where we belong.

It seemed to be so appropriate to be listening to a Chesapeake Bay bluegrass band as we sat here in this historic creek. What a peaceful easy evening.



Amenities are only a few creeks away.
While there are no marinas on Peachblossom Creek, the Tred Avon River boasts at least a dozen facilities. Boats needing a pump-out can get one on the Tred Avon at Easton Point Marina in Easton (410-822-1201) or Campbell's Bachelor Point Yacht Co. (410-226-5592); or in Town Creek at Campbell's Boatyard at Jack's Point (410-226-5105), Campbell's Town Creek Boatyard (410-226-0213), Hinckley Yacht Services (410-226-5113), Mears Yacht Haven (410-226-5450), or Oxford Boat Yard (410-226-5101). If you need gas or diesel, check out Campbell's Boatyard at Jack's Point, Easton Point Marina, Mears Yacht Haven or The Masthead at Pier Street Marina (410) 226-5171. If it is a swimming pool you crave, check out Campbell's Bachelor Point Yacht Co., Hinckley Yacht Services or Mears Yacht Haven.

For folks needing to reprovision, there's the Oxford Market & Deli at 203 S. Morris St. (410-226-0015). Here you will find everything from milk, bread, meat and fresh fruit to beer, wine and ice cream.

Local history buffs will enjoy a visit to the Oxford Museum at 100 S. Morris St., 410-226-0191www.oxfordmuseum.org.The museum has more than 2,500 artifacts of Oxford's 300 years of history. During the summer months, it is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, and from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

[05.09 issue]