For my birthday, M. suggested the idea of a day trip, my choice. I decided on Chesapeake City, Maryland - a quaint little town that sits along the C&D Canal that ties the Chesapeake Bay to the Delaware River.
We spent the day touring the small canal museum housed in the original pump house, browsed the colorful shops, ate salads at the Bohemia Cafe, and generally enjoyed ourselves. We also managed to find an eclectic herb farm to visit, Sinking Springs Herb Farm & Retreat.
Fortuitously, the owner, Ann Stubbs pulled into the driveway behind us - she'd been out buying fresh crab for tomorrow's herbal luncheon for 19. After finding out where we were from, she bustled into her workshop and gave us an enthusiastic mini-tour. She showed us the Chinese lanterns that had just been harvested, told us about the lecture on Bible herbs she was giving the next day, gave us a glimpse into the cozy little cottage they rent as a bed & breakfast, and plucked a leaf of costmary for me to tuck into my Bible. (Costmary is know as the Bible leaf. Long ago church-goers tucked a pleasant-smelling-and-tasting leaf or two in their Bibles to pull out and nibble on during lengthy sermons.) Miss Ann gave me literature about her business to pass onto my herb club, and before we left, pointed out the 400+ year old sycamore tree that graces the lawn of their farmhouse that's been in their family for 8 generations. Our visit with her proved to me, yet again, that herbies are some of the most interesting and generous people.
Our last business of the day involved an hour's tour of the canal, on the canal, in the boat dubbed Miss Clare. Captain Ralph and his wife, Clare, are an older couple that have run a ferry and tour business on the canal for 23 years. As soon as I saw the real Miss Clare, I was smitten. With a red gingham top, blue pedal-pushers, an ever present bag of Chex Mix, and her gray braids pinned up on the sides of her head, I knew we were going to have a good time. And so we did. With the boat all to ourselves, Capt. Ralph shared the amazing heritage of men from which he comes - most of whom lived and worked on the water all their lives. He showed us many old photos of his family and told us about their ties to the canal. Ralph and Clare shared so much interesting history about the canal and the area, pointed out fascinating birds and boats, rolled out a water map to show us just where we were, and, in general, gave us a tour and a half. We stepped off the Miss Clare feeling like we'd just gotten the bargain of the century. A great way to end our lovely day . . .