Chesapeake Boat, Frenchtown, MD

April 2: I could happily sit in the bedroom, staring out the window, for hours. Not staring but looking, watching. It's overcast, and the muted tones suit the scene well: inlets and outlets, islands and sand bars, a distant string of houses...

The far reaches of the Eastern Shore feel remote, much further removed from mainstream American life than they appear on a map. The bustle of Washington, DC, isn't very far to the northwest, as the gull flies, and only 3 hours as the car drives, but it seems worlds away.

April 3: I accompanied Chris on his morning jaunt around the far end of the island. Striding along, smelling the salty air, I learned something about a rich understanding of place. On my own, I would have taken in the rather stark beauty around me, a few details. Chris embroidered the walk with countless insights into local geography, economy, social history, natural history and ecology. Every object along the shore--from old oyster shell to rusty scrap--tells a story that Chris can articulate. At one point, he pulled an antique baking soda bottle out of the mud, rinsed it off and said, "here--a souvenir." While I admired the weathered glass lightly encrusted with shells, he explained that everyone around the Bay had been making biscuits for breakfast for generations.