Friday, August 6, 2010


Above is a recent sunrise on Queens Creek. Look at those gorgeous clouds at the top of the shot.

People unfamiliar with Mathews County are usually startled to learn this is a creek and not a river. But everything is relative. Since we have so much water here, our creek is somebody else's river; somebody else's creek is our stream. And somebody else's babbling brook is our ditch.

Or something.

Earlier this summer, on a particularly busy day in Mathews Court House, I met up with some high school friends. Most likely it was that weekend the swarms of bicyclists were in town, so between that and the Farmers Market and people doing their regular weekend errands/shopping, it took way longer than usual to travel through the court house area.

This set one of the girls off on a rant. I'll call her Thumbelina since that was her nickname Cathy, and here's what she said:

"Those daggone Come Heres! They don't know how to drive. They don't understand anything about living around here. Nothing! They can't even recognize a creek when they see one. Why in the (insert the expletive of your choice right here) do they call this Rivah Country? This is NOT Rivah Country! They can't even spell RIVER! These are not RIVAHS or RIVERS they are CREEKS, fahgawdsakes! CREEKS not RIVAHs! "

When "Cathy" (who is obviously a From Here and not a Come Here) talks, she's always highly animated and very passionate about her topic. This particular tirade went on for some time, but the point I'm trying to make, I think, is Mathews has lots of creeks that many people would call rivers.

Or was I trying to say something else, such as never--ever--bake two chocolate cakes in one day, with homemade buttercream frosting, and then proceed to lick the batter and leftover frosting right from the bowl, and expect to right a coherent blog post. Because all you'll really want to do is sleep for three weeks after swearing never to eat raw cake batter again.


Actually, we do have a few rivers around here, but we have way more creeks.

In fact, we have creeks I never knew existed. For instance, in yesterday's edition of the Gazette Journal there was a front-page article on the various local bodies of water that are condemned due to pollution/run-off, etc. The list included the following, and I'm putting an asterisk by the creeks I have never, ever heard of before in all my 40-some years, most of which were spent right here in the county:

Barn Creek *
Billups Creek
Blackwater Creek
Cobbs Creek
Davis Creek
Doctor's Creek
Dyers Creek *
Woodas Creek *
Edwards Creek
Greenmansion Cove *
Jacks Creek *
Lanes Creek *
Raymond Creek *
Morris Creek
Oakland Creek *
Queens Creek
Winder Creek *
Stoakes Creek
Stutts Creek
Hudgins Creek *
Thomas Creek *
Weston Creek *
White's Creek
Winter Harbor
Horn Harbor
Milford Haven
Hole in the Wall (these last few are more areas than creeks but they're on the list)

For now, let's put aside the pollution/condemned waters issue and just focus on that list.

(If a body of water is condemned, you can't harvest shellfish due to high concentrations of some bad stuff that we'll talk about another day, because I just ate a bunch of frosting and cake batter and am feeling green around the gills woozy enough as it is.)

This is not an all-inclusive list of creeks in the county, only the ones that are condemned! A comprehensive list would probably stretch from here to Richmond and back. It's amazing. (Unless most of our creeks are condemned, and then that's not good. At all.)

For the one or two locals who read, what are some other creeks not listed above (regardless of whether they're condemned)? Do most of those creeks ring a bell or am I the only one around here who never leaves Queens Creek is reading these names for the first time?

For anyone else still awake, what's the closest body of water near you, and would you/do you eat anything out of it, like fish or shellfish?


deborah said...

Ohio River
Big Sandy River
Twelvepole Creek
nope, wouldn't eat anything from the rivers or the creek. Too many industries on them to even consider it!
I would, however, eat a slice of your chocolate cake. Yum!

BayBrowder said...

We live on Mill Creek behind the old tide mill at Poplar Grove. We have no worries about eating anything we catch in our creek, or in any Mathews County creek, river, rivah, haven (as in Milford Haven), or bay.....enjoyed a jellyfish sandwich just today....tomorrow it's a sting ray steak.

foolery said...

Stony Creek about 1/2 mile south of us; the Sacramento River about 6 miles east. I don't eat crawdads, bluegill or crappie (the creek), or sturgeon, catfish or trout (the river) but I would eat salmon, thank-you-very-much. Sometimes people even bring me some, and then I need to bake for them.

As I've told you before, your creeks are as wide as our rivers, but our rivers are butt-cold because they come from Sierra-Cascade mountain snow melt, and then from the bottom of a reservoir. They move so fast that a few people drown in them every year (but they look as calm as Queen's Creek).

What was that about cake?

Ann Marie said...

I live on Davis Creek.. and some other creek.. damn if i know the name. So there ya have it.. I got nothing.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

deborah - head south and I'll have the cake ready for you. Big piece or small?

Baybrowder-Yay! It's nice to hear from you. How are you coming on our book? (Just kidding. Sort of...I really need to get crackin'.) I've eaten stuff out of our creek too. The article talked about how the waters were safe for swimming and such but shellfish, such as oysters that serve as Nature's water filters, would have higher concentrations of stuff in them so we're discouraged from eating them from these particular areas. Sure do hope the Rappahannock is OK because I've eaten many an oyster from there.

foolery-Oh, how I love salmon. Between your fresh salmon and the almond trees, a person could eat mighty healthfully in your neck of the woods. After eating all that cake batter I'm on a self-imposed fast today, at least until noon...

AM-The first time I'd ever been on Davis Creek was last year's Blog Fest on the Waterman's boat. Pretty creek. Here, have a cup of really strong coffee, it does wonders.


Anonymous said...

The one by me is put in and the one behind annie re is dyers i believe. Most everything we eat is out of the bay not the creeks!!!Foolery I should hook you up with the ex he is a salmon fisherman out there in Cali you could have all you want....I hate the stuff!!!

Ps Have a blast tonight!!

Meg @ Soup Is Not A Finger Food said...

Our closest named body of water is Seneca Creek, but it's not a creek like Queens Creek. Our property is adjacent to Seneca Creek State Park. Seneca Creek flows into the Potomac River, and I don't think we eat anything from there... but as part of the northern part of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, it makes me sad to hear that our runoff is polluting your creeks.

I also didn't quite get the "Rivah Country" thing when I saw it on signs. Maybe that's why I didn't go into marketing.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

KL-Thanks, I hope to survive. The first ones begin arriving at ...2:30, which is exactly two and a half hours early. Serenity now.

Meg-A part of the article I neglected to mention is the # of acres of condemned waters has actually dropped, due, they theorize, to the dry spring and summer (less runoff). They condemn the waters based on "a level of fecal colliform in the water."

Hope you've already eaten breakfast.

Lynne M said...

I live near Cow Creek, and would not eat anything out of it if you paid me... I have not heard of alot of the creeks on your list. I also happen to thing that the come heres started this whole "Rivah" thing as I have been living in Gloucester for 36 years, and my family has been here ever since there has been a Gloucester and I have NEVER heard about a Rivah until the last 5 years or so. I think these come heres are rich and need to sound that way.. BUT that's just my opinion...

Country Girl said...

The closest body of water to me right at the moment is the North East River. It is not a creek and it feeds into the Chesapeake Bay. I'm at the very top of the bay and you're down at the lower portion. Hi there, this morning!!
I eat the crabs and the fish that would come out of this river.

Mental P Mama said...

The Long Island Sound. And, no.

Daryl said...

Walk out the door, turn right, cross Riverside Drive, walk through Riverside Park and carefully navigate the stone 'steps' down to the promenade and there is the Hudson River ... I dont think I have ever eaten a fish caught in the Hudson but I do know I have eaten Tilapia raised in a bathtub ... seriously.

WV: warcat .. seriously ...

big hair envy said...

The Mattaponi River is the closest body of water to me. (If you don't count the beaver creek in the back of our property!) We also have the Pamunkey and the Rappahannock Rivers. Incidently, we also have Native American Tribes named for each of these three rivers...the reservations are located just a short distance from my home.

Linda said...

Lake Keowee, SC. Bass & Catfish!

Noe Noe Girl...A Queen of all Trades. said...

We have two creeks on our property but they dont have names. Guess I need to fix that. Let's see. Hows about....
1.Upthe Creek
2.Withouta Paddle

Noe Noe Girl...A Queen of all Trades. said...

Oh yeah I forgot...our creeks have tadpoles and frogs and a few minnows but we dont eat them.

kaffy said...

I'm salivating over the chocolate cake. Please send me a piece fedex. Our house backs up to a suburban pond with fountains of water for your esthetic pleasure. I guess I can't relate to creek life, though when I was little, my grandma's house had a creek nearby and we tried to catch the crawfish and frogs with no success.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Lynne M. - Whenever I see "rivah" I imagine some southern belle sitting on the front porch twirling a parasol - and that's how she'd pronounce it, rivah. Most of the people I know from around here are not the umbrella twirling sort, but I suppose many of the newer residents are...which is fine but makes for an interesting blending of cultures.

CG-Howdy right back atcha.

MPM-Roger that.

Daryl-We need to know more about this bathtub tilapia business.

BHE-Love the names of those rivers and have crossed all of them many, many times. Not sure I'd want to eat anything out of the two West Point ones, though, what with the paper mill and everything.

Linda-Sounds like some good fishin' on your lake.

NNG-Perfect names and good for you for not eating the tadpoles.

kaffy-Two chocolate cakes plus a mini crock pot with liquid chocolate waiting to have strawberries dunked into it. Melted ghirardelli (sp) chocolate, minimarshmallows, a splash of vanilla and some whipping cream. Mmm mmm good. Come on down.

Dave said...

My front yard is Hills Bay the mouth of your creek is to my left. Used to eat oysters from out front but that was years ago no oysters now. Winder Creek is off of Queens Creek its the one across from Cow Point.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Hi, Dave - I know Hills Bay well and am glad to finally know where Winder Creek is. (a Mrs. Winder was our neighbor at one time, wonder if there's a connection.)

You must be near the Kimball House that they moved from the high school? Gorgeous house and I"m so glad they saved it.

Thanks for commenting. If you see a frizzy haired woman flying by on a skiff whose engine is smoking, you'll know who it is.

p.s. If you hear music coming up the creek tonight, it's my teenaged son. My apologies in advance, but he's rigged it so it plays outside as well as in.