I was halfway through Jody Schroath’s sublimely entertaining piece on Havre de Grace, Md., in this issue [see "The Great Havre de Grace Culture Clash"] when it occurred to me that good old Blessed Harbour—good old Port Grace, good old Harbor of Mercy, aka Haven of Elegance/Forgiveness/Sangfroid—is one of the steadily diminishing number of Chesapeake towns I have not been to. Now that I’ve sat in this marvelous and enviable catbird seat for going on 18 years, I realized, the surprises are fewer and much further between. It made me want to grab the ol’ guitar and sing a Bay version of that Johnny Cash song: I’ve been everywhere, man / crossed the rivers fair, man / sailed the lightest air, man. . . .
I don’t mean any of this in a boastful way, of course; I say it with nothing but profound gratitude. How lucky am I that exploring the towns and rivers and creeks and gunkholes and waterfronts and history and culture and people and animals and traditions of the Chesapeake is my job? And did I mention that, more often than not, I get to do this by boat? Really. Think about it. Three people sitting at a bar, and the bartender asks, hey what do you folks each do for a living? “I sell insurance,” says one man. “I write computer software,” says the lady next to him. “I explore the Chesapeake Bay, mostly on a boat,” says I, “and then I write about it for thousands of people who also like to explore the Bay on their boats.”
I win, right? I totally win. In fact, I cannot think of job that mine would even tie with, much less lose to. . . . Wait a minute, I just though of one: professional pie taster. Okay, that would be a pretty close call, but other than that, nothing. Is the foregoing a scrupulously accurate description of my job? No, not really. Because, in fact, most of the time I ask other people to do the exploring. And then, with a lot of help, I package it all up and pass it on to you. But over the years I’ve set aside many of the good ones for myself—Oxford, Chestertown, Cape Charles, Norfolk, St. Michaels, Smith Island, Irvington, Shady Side, Kent Narrows, Tilghman Island, etc. So my thesis stands.
More important, I’ve identified another item yet to be checked off on my Chesapeake explorer’s bucket list. I’m a sucker for history and museums and art, all of which Havre de Grace has in spades: centuries of rich history, a decoy museum, a maritime museum, a canal museum, etc. And, according to Jody, there’s an excellent culinary experience there to pair with each attraction—not unlike pairing a good wine with a good meal. Great idea, isn’t it? Jody has such good ideas, and she says we should feel free to use it. I for one will not hesitate to do just that. Port Benediction, here I come!
Tim Sayles, Editor