Friday, April 29, 2011


Field of buttercups on the way to Haven Beach

Thursday's weather was odd.

We awoke to tornado watches. Throughout the day, the wind whipped and disasters loomed clouds threatened.  After delivering children to their various destinations and before starting my work for the day, I decided to go for a jog down Haven Beach.

There I parked my car and trotted off down the gravel road that leads right into a well-known haunted woods away from the water directly into a wooded swamp.  My brief, two-mile jog included an unexpected upper body workout from swatting the first May flies* of the season. In addition to the physical struggle, there was also a very loud, very serious internal debate as to what on Earth would have compelled me to select a haunted, humid, insect-ridden woods on a stormy day as an ideal place to exercise.

With no acceptable answer to that question, I decided to salvage the trip by taking some pictures after my run from the flies was over.

These haven't been altered in any way and were all taken using the "auto" setting on the camera. There was a direct correlation between color (or lack thereof) and whether the camera was pointed east or west.

The field of buttercups (above) is on the left just before you turn down the long gravel lane which winds to Haven.

The foreboding shot above was taken from the parking lot.  The bay is tucked securely  in between that bed of sand and that great big wall of sky.

Yet, just behind me, towards the haunted swamp marsh, the grass was all happy and green, as if nothing ominous was going on at all.

This one below might be my favorite simply because of the ever so subtle hint of color in that upper right patch of sky.

It's sort of a melding of the vivid color that was behind me and the dreary drab that was in front of me. A sign of hope. Or perhaps a signal that life is not all darkness and drab, nor is it all vivid green and yellow buttercups.

It's a blending of the two.

Here's to a weekend with more green grass and buttercups than storm clouds and dive-bombing insects.

*A quick Google searched yielded no (!) results for the May fly of which I speak.  There is a "mayfly," evidently some gentle sort of insect who wouldn't dream of dive bombing an innocent jogger and who is kind to puppies and such, but that is not the May fly I'm talking about.  No, these are flies shaped like a stealth bomber, light brown, short-winged, fire-breathing-dragon sorts with teeth and jaws that snap quicker than an alligator. What they love more than biting, however, is flying kamikaze style around your head until you're so dizzy and out of breath from stomping and swatting you can't see straight, and anyone witnessing the encounter thinks you're having a conniption or a hissy fit. 

(That's because you are having a conniption or hissy fit.)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Three Things

Here we are, once again, at the day of the week called Thursday, which is when I share three things and you (hopefully) share three things. There are no rules or regulations dictating what you should share, especially even as it relates to the number.  Three is just a suggestion.  Just share.

I'll go first.

1.  The photo above of the Islander was taken from my deck using the zoom lens.  To convey what that place meant to so many people is impossible to do in a blog post.  The story would, however, make a very nice movie or book. In a rural county whose main attraction (aside from its isolation) is its natural beauty and proximity to the water, the Islander provided Us Locals with recreational and social activities otherwise unheard of; and Them Tourists with an experience that simply could not be replicated.

2. Right now I could use an extended stay at the Islander, assuming the seafood buffet, the swimming pool and that upstairs lounge were still open for business. Even so, I'm ready to go.

3.  I'm looking forward to a vacation even if it involves a tent and no running water. Extended time away from Life is in order, and it's long overdue.

Now it's your turn.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pastoral Wandering and Wondering

Thus far this week, all my photographs are of farmland in neighboring counties.  Today is no exception.

That field above is near Freeport.  See yesterday's post for the relevance of Freeport Landing to the Chesapeake Bay family.  

I promised myself I was not going to mention that German ancestor leaping off the boat again. Not once.

The shots below are from the Shackelfords area.

I spent first through sixth grade at Gloucester Day School (now Ware Academy, formerly my grandmother's store and my mother's home) with a boy whose last name was Shackelford. One day in first grade I chased him through the playground until he tripped and fell.  In his moment of weakness and embarrassment, I kissed him.

He looked mortified. 

Whether it was from the fall or from the kiss was never made clear. 

Something I'd like to make clear is that I kissed him on his cheek.  

And then I ran away. Mortified.

Please enjoy these bucolic scenes.

I am intrigued by the word "bucolic."  I sort of like it, and often find myself repeating it over and over again for no good reason.  But if I dwell on it too terribly long, it reminds me of "colic,"  which reminds me of another boy whose cheek I kissed many times.

A tiny boy who also had a look of mortification: Chesapeake Bay Son as an infant.  With colic.

It was not bucolic.

It may, however, have been "broccol-ic," which loosely translates into "brought on by eating the wrong thing."

This week, barely halfway over, has been brutal.  The next month or so ahead promises to be equally chaotic.  Whenever I am giddy from exhaustion and stress, posts become riddled with ridiculosity and words such as ridiculosity colic appear in the same sentence as bucolic.

For the one reader who might still be awake might be wondering if Chesapeake Bay Woman hasn't finally gone off the deep end, rest assured she has she's just tired and her brain works in delerious ways.

Now, to divert attention from this ramshackle post, a few questions for you, my one remaining reader:
  • The Shackelford boy from the first grade is my first memory of kissing someone.  What were the circumstances surrounding your first kiss, even if it was only a peck on the cheek?
  • Do you have any stories to share that involve the word bucolic?  How about colic? Frolic?
  • Happy Wednesday. Are we done with this week yet?

    Tuesday, April 26, 2011


    Here are some more shots from Sunday morning's saunter around an old homestead over near Glenns in neighboring Gloucester County.

    There are I-don't-know-how-many acres associated with this place.  The original property, according to my friend Alda, included land that went all the way to Freeport Landing.

    In case you haven't heard, one of my German American ancestors hopped off the boat at Freeport after what I'm sure was an enchanting final leg of the trip up the Piankatank River.  Every chance I get I mention that, and today marks about the 568th time I've done so!

    In other genealogical news, we're also kin to Wayne Newton, although we don't usually admit that talk much about all that other than the forty two couple of times I've mentioned it here. That particular branch of the Family Tree involves my mother's side, some kin to a clan that settled in or near Fredericksburg.  

    (The Chesapeake Bay Children need to know these things, it's important.  Or, as my father says, "It's  somethin', all right.")

    Chesapeake Bay Mother, not at all lacking in the singing and showmanship department, can provide further details of the Wayne Newton Connection.  

    Let's move along now to another subject, such as our blog post, which--last time I checked--has nothing to do with lounge singers or Red Roses for a Blue Lady .  

    Danke Shoen.

    In some strange twist of fate which always seems to wrap itself around Chesapeake Bay Woman, I happened to be sitting at a stoplight last night on my ride home from work, when I heard someone hollering at me from the adjacent car.

    This happens on the Route 17 corridor from time to time.  You can be in your own little world, running down your mental checklist of who needs to be where, when, and what's going on tomorrow, and what's for supper tonight, and how one gets last year's pollen off this year's dashboard, and who is going to let the dog out, and how you're going to get the smell of musty, mildewed laundry out of your room since you left a wet load in there for a week--when all of a sudden you're interrupted by a friendly holler at a stoplight.

    It was my friend Alda's husband, Lawrence.  Or Lawrence, my friend Alda's husband. In other words, it was Lawrence! His family owns the property photographed above.  

    He was on his way home from work too.

    I rolled down my window and in the amount of time it took for the light to change from red to green, we had a nice conversation about how he's been, how she's doing, and how life was going in general. He filled me in on their recent vacation, and I completely forgot to mention my visit to his property the day before.  (She told me a while ago I could take pictures there, so I knew it was OK.)

    When you're sitting at a stoplight in the middle of Route 17, trying to work your way through mental checklists that involve mildewed laundry, sometimes it's hard to focus on anything other than driving home the most superficial, cordial conversation.  Nothing too heavy or in-depth, that's the rule of thumb for conversation at a Route 17 stoplight.

    Anyway, the light turned green, windows were rolled back up, gas pedals were depressed, and all eyes returned to the monotony of the commute home.

    The End.

    Monday, April 25, 2011


    The lot adjacent to Moughons in Mathews Court House

    Yesterday was a glorious, wondrous and simultaneously industrious day.

    That's a lot of "ous" packed into one sentence day. 

    I awoke to the glory of a bright, warm, sunny day but knew I could not tarry, because Easter Sunday would be the perfect opportunity to take photographs of the Court House area without traffic. So out of bed I leapt and up the road I went to take pictures like the one above.

    The one above certainly does not look as though it would be a Court House or village scene.  That's because the building which once stood here was razed a long time ago.  My job for the book I'm working on is simply to record things as they are today and juxtapose them with photos of the way they were then.  Then there was a building.  Now, there's No Trespassing signs and buttercups.  And empty space.

    After snapping about 30 photographs in downtown Mathews, I grabbed a cup of coffee and drove over to Gwynn's Island.  Last year I spent Easter Sunday at a sunrise service over there.  This year I held my own service from a beach chair overlooking the mouth of the Piankatank River.  After spilling most of my coffee in my lap listening to the choir of the wind and the waves, I went home to get changed for yet another adventure.

    View from Gwynn's Island

    This next adventure involved photographing a place which belongs to my friend Alda's husband's family. Or the husband of my friend Alda's family.  Or a family somehow connected to my friend who is named Alda.


     It's a beautiful old farm that lives quietly off the road leading from Mathews to Glenns.

    A car load of bloggers at last year's Blog Fest will recognize this as the place we were forced to make a quick pit stop when one in our midst had an emergency that needed immediate attention. A cornfield was involved.  And that's all I have to say about that.

    Moving right along...

    There are acres upon acres of fields and woods just waiting to be savored on this particular piece of property.

    The day was so warm and wonderful, I couldn't help myself.

    I had to get down in it and do as it was beseeching me to do: savor it. My Vitamin D deprived system forced me to wallow bask in all the sunlight and greenery and fresh air and buttercups.

    All this happened before 11:00 yesterday morning.

    The rest of the day involved grass cutting; supper cooking; bill paying; laundry doing; dish washing; weed pulling; animal feeding; hammock testing, calendar checking; and book organizing, among many other things.

    In short, Easter Sunday was one of the longest days in recent history. The best part was lying in the field above, with the rest of the day ahead of me and not one bit of urgency to accomplish any of it.

    What did you do yesterday?

    Friday, April 22, 2011


    This series of photographs was taken from the public landing at the end of Warehouse Road in neighboring Gloucester.  

    Each picture juxtaposes something dead, colorless and seemingly lifeless with the green and beauty of spring.

    The remains of a dock...

    or a tree 

    clinging to the shoreline.

    "Nature often holds up a mirror so we can see more clearly the ongoing process of growth, renewal, and transformation in our lives."
    - Mary Ann Brussat

    "Nothing really dies it just turns into something else."  
    - Ann Cushman

    "I happened to notice that all these pictures featured new growth as well as death;  then I realized it was Easter weekend, and also spring!  

    (Sometimes it takes me a while, but eventually I cobble such obvious facts together. Other days I wonder how I am able to function as a contributing member of society when it is the Friday before Easter and I'm only now catching up with the fact that it's spring. Or the Friday before Easter. Or the year 2011.)

    As all these profound thoughts flooded my cluttered addled brain, it occurred to me that you might just like the pictures without all the extraneous Deep Thoughts, and so I will end on this note:  Enjoy today; enjoy the weekend; enjoy the gift called Life." 

    - CBW

    Thursday, April 21, 2011

    Three Things

    Scene from the end of Warehouse Road in Gloucester

    Welcome to the day of the week known as  Three Thing Thursday, where you're encouraged to spew forth three random thoughts that happen to be on your mind at this very moment, no matter how insignificant they may seem.  If something's on your mind, there must be some significance.  Regardless, we don't judge significance or insignificance,  we just drone on and on about it until you want to start crying because this opening paragraph will never end we just say our three things and then carry on.

    Let's begin.  

    1.  As I left work yesterday, the temperature registered 92 degrees.  If this sounds like a complaint, rest assured it is not.  I could have danced a jig and wallowed in that wonderful 92 degree weather just as soon as I left the building.  Instead, I opted to preserve my dignity calmly get in the car, roll down the windows, inhale the air which was as thick as shag carpeting due to the pollen, and luxuriate in the warm weather and its accompanying smells all the way home.

    2.  Night before last was also warm, without a ripple of wind on the creek.  Gazing out onto that glass-like surface I told the Chesapeake Bay Children that we had to go for a canoe ride.  Realizing the imminent danger potential for disaster if we all three hopped into one tiny, unstable canoe, Chesapeake Bay Son opted for the rowboat while Daughter and I took the canoe out for a spin.  That evening marked the first time in 2011 that my bare feet touched creek mud.  It also marked the first time in my life that the tip of a very sharp, narrow, rigid piece of marsh grass went directly up my left nostril when I bent over to tend to something (likely related to my feet sinking in stinkin' creek mud).  Thankfully I was able to pull back before the reed came out my ear any major damage occurred.

    3.  How did we get so close to the month of May without fully acknowledging and appreciating the month of March April?  It's almost May?  Really?

    Now it's your turn.  Please share three (or more things)--whatever happens to be on your mind at the moment, whether it's weighing heavily or just quickly passing through much like a reed of marsh grass in a nostril.

    Wednesday, April 20, 2011

    Warehouse Landing

    Kids? Never EVER take pictures while driving. Thank you.

    Today I am sharing some photos of Warehouse Road in neighboring Gloucester County.

    I drove down here last week hoping to kill time in between an errand and the start of a Grandparents' Day program at Chesapeake Bay Daughter's school.

    At the very end of the road lives this old house, 

    a cute little outbuilding,

    and public access to the Ware River.

    OK, technically this is someone's yard.  But just beyond this was the public landing. I promise. 

    Stay tuned for more shots from my trip down Warehouse Landing in Gloucester.

    Question of the Day 
    When was the last time you turned onto a road  you wouldn't ordinarily go down just because you could or had some time to spare? 

    I am the Queen of No Spare Time, but in this case the choice was either to sit idle in a parking lot or go exploring. To me, that's not really a choice. That's a mandate.

    Tuesday, April 19, 2011


    These were taken last Thursday morning from my back deck.  Queens Creek was fogged over, but that didn't discourage some early morning boaters near the marina just up the way.  As the sun rose the fog slowly burned off.

    The haze and the colors are just as they appeared then.

    This point of land, a very narrow peninsula which juts out into the creek, is to the left of the shots above, away from the direct light of that rising sun.

    Speaking of haze and fog, the aftermath of the tornado is still being felt very acutely here.

    (Yet amazingly, across the river where I work, they barely mentioned it.  We always seem to get lost in the shuffle, those of us who live in Gloucester, Mathews and Middlesex. I suppose that's what attracts us to living here, the lack of attention and spotlight. Still, it's hard to believe something this big can happen and  people just 20 or 30 minutes in another direction have no inkling that anything happened.)

    Today on my way in to work I drove by Page Middle School and could not believe my eyes. How all that damage could come from such a swift weather event is beyond comprehension.

    After crossing the Coleman Bridge I took my usual route up the Colonial Parkway and was shocked to discover a patch of trees that had been completely obliterated, snapped off midway up just like toothpicks. Evidently this was where the tornado passed through before crossing the York River and continuing its path of destruction as it bullied its way through Gloucester and Middlesex.

    As is typical for this area, the outpouring from the community has been immense. Churches and other organizations are providing meals, clothes, showers, and even chain saw brigades. My daughter's school, forced to cancel its community Easter egg hunt Saturday due to the weather, is using all the candy and eggs to make Easter bags for those affected by the tornado.

    According to an email from my daughter's school, the Red Cross is asking for the following items, which can be dropped off at Bellamy United Methodist, 4870 Chestnut Fork Road, Gloucester, from 10:00 a.m. through 2:00 p.m.

                    Currently, the most pressing needs are:
                    Children’s clothes – sizes small, medium and large
                    Infant clothes
                    Cleaning supplies
                    Food items that do not need cooking or refrigeration
                    (food items specifically mentioned included cereal, snacks and soft/juice drinks)

    One thing that is bizarre to those of us unaccustomed to tornadoes but very much acquainted with other severe weather, is how seemingly untouched most of the area is. Unless you glanced in the general direction of Page Middle School (and the field next to it), you'd never know anything happened as you drive down an otherwise normal looking Route 17.

    Deltaville is still in recovery mode. Be sure to read Deltaville Jamie's latest account of the goings on over there, where they are also struggling with decimated buildings, yet, amazingly, no loss of life.

    p.s. Speaking of lost lives, I referenced three deaths in Gloucester in yesterday's post.  That number has since been revised to two storm-related deaths. 

    Monday, April 18, 2011


    Thursday morning at sunrise, Queens Creek looked enchanting.  A hazy fog made it look mystical.

    Fast forward to Saturday night, however, and the same view was ominous and foreboding.

    Neither of these two photos has been changed or enhanced  in any way.  The colors are exactly as they appeared at the time.

    Saturday evening, a tornado associated with the storm featured above hit neighboring Gloucester County and worked its way to nearby Deltaville.  Three people in Gloucester perished; numerous others (one report says upwards of 60) were injured; and the devastation to property is nothing short of astonishing.

    Living in a coastal area such as this, one becomes accustomed to powerful storms.  Hurricanes, tropical storms, nor'easters, ferocious thunderstorms, flooding, even the occasional water spout--all these are a part of life here.

    But tornadoes?

    Tornadoes that crush school buses and turn them on their sides? We don't see those very often, thankfully.

    The path of destruction left by Saturday's tornado can only be described as a war zone.

    Page Middle School (which used to be Gloucester High School) sustained serious damage. Homes were taken off their foundations in some cases and completely obliterated in others.   Zoar Baptist Church in Deltaville, a fairly massive brick structure, looks like a bomb was dropped on it.

    Below are some links to various sources of information on this astonishing, devastating weather event.

    Click here to read  Deltaville Jamie's account.

    Click here for the Gazette Journal's story.

    Click here for some video of the storm's damage.

    Click here for photographs.

    Gloucester and Middlesex schools are closed today, not only to give families time to deal with whatever losses they are experiencing, but also, at least in Gloucester, to allow time to figure out how to handle the logistics of 580 displaced students for the remainder of the school year.

    On a personal note, I am thankful this storm barely--but just barely--skirted Mathews.  There are reports of some damage in the North area, but for the most part the path of the storm danced just around us.  One quick turn to the right and we'd have been directly impacted.

    I used to take comfort in the fact that I live in a brick home with a basement.  After seeing what this tornado did to Zoar Baptist Church (click here for a "before" picture) (click here for an "after" picture)  in Deltaville, I no longer take such comfort and can only say I am grateful to have been spared.

    Very, very grateful.

    Friday, April 15, 2011

    Diamonds in the Rough

    The two photos above are of a building at the intersection of Providence and East River roads. I love this place and can hardly resist busting through that door that's ajar whenever I drive by. (Chesapeake Bay Daughter's BFF lives down Providence Road, so I pass by here frequently. Every single time I have to use restraint.)

    Trespassing, however, would be a most unattractive addition to my resume at this stage of my life.

    Below is a house that sits back off Old Garden Creek Road.

    And here's a closer shot of that attic window.

    I'm more motivated than ever (in spite of all that I have going on) to photograph these old places.

     A couple of weeks ago, a tiny shed that I admired off Route 3/Windsor Road (just before you get to the cemetery) was torn down and burned.

    I almost drove off the road when I saw it reduced to a pile of embers.  I'd become so accustomed to admiring it and telling myself I was gonna pull in there sometime and ask permission to take pictures. Now it's too late.

    These are the times when my proclivity to procrastinate really bothers me.

    So, in between commuting to and from my paying job; shuttling kids to and from sports events; working on the book; maintaining a house (which is missing one exterior shutter and has some siding hanging off thanks to a recent storm); and keeping the grass and shoreline cut to a point that we don't wake up one morning and find ourselves swinging from the top of a giant beanstalk that suddenly sprouted--well, keeping up with all these old places will be tough.

    But I vow to try.

    Have a great weekend that doesn't involve dangling siding; out-of-control yard growth; missing shutters and favorite places reduced to burning embers.

    Thursday, April 14, 2011

    Three Things

    Today is Three Thing Thursday, where I share three things, and then hopefully you do too.

    Except today I don't have three things to share.

    Rather, I have lots to share but am much too tired overwhelmed by this week that will never end to do so.

    So I leave you with three pictures of the lovely Chesapeake Bay.

    This last one, of seemingly nothing yet anything but, is my favorite. I find its lack of busy-ness very soothing and could write a book on just how complex this seemingly simple picture actually is (at least to me).

    Now it's your turn to share three things.  Whatever is on your mind.  Your cares, your worries, your joys, your sorrows. Whatever happens to be on your mind.  

    Happy Thursday.

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

    Pelicans, Etc.


    I've been going to Aaron's Beach for years, and this is the first time I've ever seen a pelican there.

    Cormorants like to hang out here. But pelicans?  Not usually.

    These cute little white birds are always here, too.  I will rely on Deltaville Jamie to provide the proper technical term, because even though she told me once before, I've already forgotten.

    And this concludes our brief glimpse at birds who like to hang out at Aaron's Beach.  Speaking of which, my last name is German for bird, and I absolutely adore hanging out at Aaron's Beach.

    Tuesday, April 12, 2011

    The Courthouse

    Over the weekend I went to the courthouse to take some street photos for the book I'm working on.  I thought Sunday afternoon would be ideal, since the sun was bright and people would be at home doing whatever people do at home on Sunday afternoons. Downtown Mathews is usually desolate on Sunday afternoons.

    So naturally the one time I needed a perfect photo of the public library (above), which used to be Farmers Bank of Mathews, there were several cars parked out front. And all of a sudden I noticed all the telephone poles and wires. Great big, ugly utility wires. This was not good.

    Feeling a little frustrated but not yet defeated, I walked around the corner for a shot of Southwind (below), which at one time was a general store. The lighting was perfect! But once again a car was in the way just enough to muck up my picture.

    I might still use this one, but, hello?  Wish the car weren't there.

    All this time, whenever I contemplated the necessary tasks for the book (gathering old photographs, taking photos of the exact same scenes, and writing a paragraph for each pair of pictures--all 80 pairs), I always assumed that taking the current photographs was going to be the easiest part of the job. I take pictures around here all the time, it's a snap! To me the hard part was all the rest.

    What I'm discovering--less than a week before my cover photographs are due and about two months before the entire book is due--is how much I underestimated the difficulty of taking a decent "now" shot of various buildings in the courthouse, thanks mostly to my need to take these pictures when there are no cars or pedestrians around.

    (Oh, and also?  There's heavy construction going on at Hyco Corner and Ward's Corner making any "now" photos at those locations unsightly.  One scene requires me to take a shot of the sanitation plant; the "then" shot, before the plant, is priceless so I have to use that photo.  Is there any way to take a good picture of a sanitation plant? Also, did you know that there is no proper angle for a good shot of Hardees which is where a very cute and very photogenic Texaco station once stood? Honestly the courthouse area was far more charming back in the 1930s and '40s than it is today.)

    This sudden realization caused a wave of panic to sweep over me, and beads of sweat formed on my forehead even though it was slightly chilly this particular day. 

    (A similar wave of panic caused me to bolt upright in bed the other night at exactly 2:00 a.m. Hormones may be playing some role in all this sweating and all, but the book related stress isn't helping matters one bit.)

    A couple of shots must be taken from the middle of the road to match the angle of the old photographs which shouldn't be a big deal early in the morning or on Sunday.

    Except it actually is, at least when I've made such attempts.

    The shot below is awful, plain and simple.  I will need to go back when the light is better and there are no cars coming at me.

    So, after spending about an hour wandering around taking terrible pictures, I got pissed off became frustrated and spun out of there on two wheels...

    I'm pretty sure my seventh grader could take a better shot. More utility wires anyone?

    ...and drove directly to Aaron's Beach, where absolutely no work was done on The Book Which Will Never Be Completed.

    Ah.  Now all is right with the world.

    The End.

    p.s. I went back last night after 7:00 p.m. and had better luck, but still, this is going to be a very long, very difficult couple of months.