Out and About (Sort of) Fabulous Fall by Howard Freedlander


Were I a poet or a writer blessed with the acumen to describe nature in a lyrical way, I would take my Yellow Lab (yes, the wonderful Sandy), venture into a wooded area for her to frolic and escape the alleys and streets of an urban environment and then describe the experience in lofty terms.

I did take Sandy for a walk in the woods. I am writing about it. But not splendidly.

Sandy Freedlander

Sandy and I, along with my wife, chose Pickering Creek Audubon Center as a venue for the three of us to enjoy an Eastern Shore treasure. A 400-acre working farm outside Easton, the center’s property offers a mature hardwood forest entwined with well-kept walking trails and small bridges over streams. Signage is frequent and discreet. Also part of this pristine and soul-satisfying property are fresh and brackish marsh, meadows, tidal and non-tidal wetlands, more than a mile of shoreline on a tidal creek and cropland.

Sandy—much-written about by this Spy columnist–loved walking amidst the trees and vegetation. Unlike most Labrador Retrievers, Sandy is very mellow, with no desire to jump into a stream or creek. In fact, she avoids water, even normally appetizing puddles produced by a rainstorm.

Pickering Creek is not new to us. It is easily accessible every day of the year, drawing birders, painters, naturalists—and dog owners who find the property a relaxing way to enjoy an outdoors experience surrounded by a natural setting. When we took our hour-long stroll, we were utterly alone., That’s not unusual.

Though not particularly adventuresome or even curious, Sandy continues to provide great joy to my wife and me. Now eight-years-old, she demands only love and attention. She gets both in large dosages.

During the same week, we enjoyed Pickering Creek, I attended OysterFest at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBMM) the past Saturday. A CBMM board member, I constantly am amazed at this event’s drawing power. It seemed as if a few thousand people partook of the sumptuous food, music, concessions and waterfront access.

From my perspective, the most popular attraction was the oyster-sipping contest. Every time I look, the line seemed to grow longer. When a friend asked me to join her in line, I declined; I don’t have the patience.

What also interested me was how few people I knew. Perhaps I should escape my cocoon. Or, just possibly, CBMM is a destination point for many residents in our region. A festival focused on Maryland’s iconic oyster attracts large crowds. St. Michaels and Talbot County attract increasingly large numbers of tourists.

My weekend ended with a political fundraiser where food, drink and schmoozing easily and comfortably blended. Unlike OysterFest, I knew lots of people. While oysters were available, they had to compete with delicious barbecue food.

Somehow, the political gathering seemed far removed from the verbal fisticuffs in our nation’s capital. Civility seemed the order of the day. Political animus was non-existent; as best I could tell.

As we enter the final two months of 2017, I look back on a year marked by outrageous behavior, feckless performance and fact-less statements made by our president. Any sign of statesmanship is fleeting. Empathy for others is outside the president’s skillset. His fitness and emotional stability to serve as our country’s top political leader is questionable every day of his wrenching term.

From strolling at Pickering Creek Audubon Center, enjoying the culinary delights of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum’s annual OysterFest and then ending the weekend at a fundraiser filled with civility and good food, I become even more convinced that Fall is my favorite time of year.

A grandson turned seven on Sunday. Another grandson becomes 17 today. Their lives bring great happiness to me. And the Fall season continues to sparkles in its colors and opportunities for frolic.

Columnist Howard Freedlander retired in 2011 as Deputy State Treasurer of the State of Maryland.  Previously, he was the executive officer of the Maryland National Guard. He  also served as community editor for Chesapeake Publishing, lastly at the Queen Anne’s Record-Observer.  In retirement, Howard serves on the boards of several non-profits on the Eastern Shore, Annapolis and Philadelphia.



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