We always wonder how welcome we will be when visiting family members whose homes have been “volunteered” by other family members. This is especially true when you last saw them in ballroom dancing class in Middle School. However, we learned quickly that those “Stanton Boys”, Sal’s cousins and their families, have adopted their ancestors’ Southern Hospitality Roots and will pull out all the stops to be welcoming hosts. Food, drink, dogs to play with, and meals with other family members and neighbors nourished us during the snow flurries and cold temperatures. I know I could never be so warm and inviting the week before I put my house on the market, while still working every day, and recovering from a half marathon the day before! Geez Louise! Don and Annie could make us feel like slackers…if we weren’t so darn happy to be goofing off here. Check out the feature image: our view from the front porch overlooking the cove and sailboats…. In addition, Annie taught us to roast our coffee in her primo roaster while Steven listens for the 1st and 2nd “Crack”.
In the historic district, we are 3 blocks from the town center and the U.S. Naval Academy. We are enjoying hunting out the “chicken sculpture” public art, 7 of them but no one can explain the significance of this trend in the city…
The Capital is right here also as are a lot of gorgeous sailboats, still bundled up for the winter. We watched 4500 midshipmen drill for 15 minutes as they amass before heading into the dining hall after morning classes. The brass and drum corps were really rockin’ and the renditions of the navy anthem, ‘Anchors Aweigh’, gave us goosebumps. The original banner, ‘Don’t give up the ship’ was ordered preserved by President George Washington in 1812 and it hangs at the USNA, tattered and torn but a popular naval battle cry today.
An hour away is the Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge. Too early for the rush migration and with snow flurries on the wind, we have it all to ourselves. Tubby’s Point is a peninsula of wild grasses surrounded on three sides with water, and terminating in a duck blind for invisible bird watching.
We saw five Whistling Swans that overwinter here, and lots of Ospreys and nests up close. The sky was dramatic, but lowering quickly and the rain finally drove us back to our rig. The little historic town of Chestertown 13 miles away, has a great bakery EarthGrain, founded by a 23 year old award winning baker. With hazelnut mochas and gorgeous brioches, scones, cookies, coffee cakes, quiches, and breads, we warm up for our drive “home” to our family in Annapolis.
We returned home to perfectly roasted potatoes thanks to Bernardo, our Brazilian family chef, and a killer (garlicky!) Caesar Salad and roasted chicken thanks to Cousin Don. After 3 bottles of red wine, we challenge ourselves with a group activity: trying to balance a tower of little carved wooden animals from Oaxaca, Mexico. Of course, only the pregnant one, sober Elizabeth, is steady handed enough to accomplish the task.