For as long as I can remember, in fact even before I had ever laid eyes on it in real life, the Miles River and its tributaries have been a mystical, romantic part of my world. When I was in 9th grade in Wilmington, NC, I wrote my final thesis on James Michener’s Chesapeake. From his home in Martingham, he created a romantic world full of characters that were larger than life, but in truth the main protagonist was the Chesapeake Bay itself. The Turlocks and the Pfaums, the Steeds and the Caters- all of the people in the novel are rooted in the culture of the bay itself.
As the summer winds down, there is never a more magical time than to be on the mighty Miles. You can float on it, fish it, sail it, and motor on it – it really doesn’t matter. The great river and the bay itself are pathways to hundreds of nooks and coves full of impossibly beautiful scenery, flora and fauna of all kinds, all wrapping you in a mesmerizing, quiet beauty that has is relatively unchanged from centuries ago.
Typically, the tourists are all gone by now, and my husband and I will take our trusty vintage Mako out into the blue, sometimes to go the Miles River Yacht Club, sometimes to just have a look-see through the St. Michaels Harbor to see who’s in town, or sometimes throw a line in or two. To catch fish or not is really not important. As we wait, we eat some fried chicken and an apple or two, maybe pop a beer or a diet coke and just enjoy the breezy tranquility.
At first, we were treated to a fantastical display of bait fish, seemingly millions of them swirling in the waters near Tilghman Point (which isn’t in Tilghman by the way). Early in the afternoon, they were peacefully swimming around. But then the mood changes! Later, as it neared sunset, boiling pools about the size of bowling balls would spurt up in the air, followed by seagulls diving into to have their evening meal. What is this?
As the sun sets and the tips of trees become golden, and then dark as the red fills the spaces between them, the prize-winning rockfish, or striped bass, start feeding. As they do the bait fish try to scatter, and the birds have a hearty dinner on the leavings. This is when you might throw your line in to catch a “keeper.” Or not. There are no rules as long as you turn off the radio, settle in, and immerse yourself in the glory of a late summer evening in one of the most beautiful places on earth.
Deena Kilmon is an artist and writer based in Easton, Maryland. She serves as Director of Strategic Initiatives Easton Economic Development Corporation. Deena is a 2021 Leadership Maryland alumna and a graduate of The University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill.