Volume 14, Issue 4 ~ January 26 - February 1, 2006

Bay Reflections

Confessions of a Come-Here

The Bay is so pleasant and beautiful that outsiders can’t resist the urge to intrude

by Jennifer Hooe

When you’ve got something good, it’s tempting to keep it all to yourself, isn’t it?

If many more like me keep moving in, the culture and tranquility of Chesapeake Country will give way to urban sprawl and that heavy load of baggage. Yet I couldn’t help myself. My odometer was complaining about the four or five trips each week from our home in Clinton to Chesapeake Bay.

My daughters and I were born with mermaid tails. They have worn off only through life’s insistence that we walk upright. However, we are most happy at the beach, singing the song of seagulls, tasting the salt spray on our lips. North Beach’s strip of public beach was the closest escape to satisfy our craving.

More compelling was the fact that my oldest, Olivia, was ready for kindergarten

I taught elementary school in Prince George’s County for seven years before choosing to stay at home with my own two star pupils. I enjoyed teaching in P.G.; I was good at it and learned a lot. Primarily, I learned that my own children would — must — spend their school days elsewhere. I found Calvert’s schools unsurpassed in Maryland. So I made my choice.

One Tuesday, the three of us girls set out to find a house. By 11:30am, I had circled the chosen place six times, drawing the attention of our new, yet unaware, North Beach neighbors. I was packing boxes by the weekend.

In the seven short months since I’ve moved to the Bay’s Western Shore, I’ve fallen in love. While the infatuation is still a glow, let me extol its virtues.

I can see the Bay from my bedroom window.

That’s a surprise I didn’t anticipate in summer, when trees were lush with growth. I was more than satisfied being able to glimpse the Bay from the street. Come November, I pulled back the curtains of my east-facing bedroom window to see the sunrise, and there it was, the Bay. With the trees down to skin and bones, I had a clear line of sight right down to the water. It’s not an expansive view, nor is it an expensive view, but I see it.

It smells so very good here, too.

When it’s blowing right, the wind is salty. I think my lungs may pop as I try to suck in all I can. Our favorite place for pancakes on Sunday mornings is nice for sniffing, too. It offers warm, familiar aromas served on the side. It’s a blend of syrup mixing with butter, newspapers being leafed through, strong coffee and Granny’s gone-to-church perfume — all shared by strangers who are somehow familiar.

It’s the post office lady who, upon receipt of our letters to Santa, delivered hand-written ones from Saint Nick right back.

It’s taking 45 minutes to make the three-minute walk to the bakery for sticky buns because I bump into four people I know.

It’s not only being able to see that the cashier at the grocery store is pregnant but also knowing she’s having a girl who will be named Susan after her great-aunt.

It’s crab traps lined against the other side of our back fence.

It’s the jovial neighbor who catches me at all the wrong times and makes them right times, as he toasts the good weather with his beer.

Unlike the wind that is everlasting, land is limited. I don’t feel guilty sucking up a salt breeze, but I do sometimes feel uncomfortable occupying this space. Nope, I wasn’t born here; neither were my parents, nor theirs. But this house was available and if I didn’t take it, someone else surely would have. That’s a cop-out, I know, and reasoning like that does nothing to limit growth.

I am, like many others, a Come-Here. The Bay has a self-inflicted problem. It’s so pleasant and beautiful that outsiders can’t resist the urge to intrude.

This is Jennifer Hooe’s first story for Bay Weekly.

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