It used to be a bi-weekly thing. I’d throw my kayak on top of the car, grab my fishing and camera gear, put a few bucks in my wallet and hit Route 14 until I couldn’t go any further east. For years, Mathews County has been my summer hang out. The public beaches attract wild birds more than sunbathers. Kayak anglers can find almost anything swimming in the marshes. The Saturday farmer’s market offers a variety of food and crafts. How could anyone hate a mostly rural county surrounded by water and possessing no traffic lights?
At Low Tide (© John Gresham)
I barely stepped foot in Mathews in about a year. Work caught up with me. Being a ranger and pastor doesn’t lend me to much free time. Oddly enough, I have been a bit more interested in hiking in the mountains rather than hunting for Oystercatchers. Constantly shooting and blogging for the park and my recent pursuit of Orthodox Christianity has made my passion for pleasure photography dwindle.
Untitled (© John Gresham)
I couldn’t let the summer pass by without reigniting my love for the place (and the blog) that led me out of a basement in Richmond. With the Pamunkey Baptist Association Annual Session out-of-the-way and having to lead a canoe trip on Thursday, I made sure the lawn and other chores were taken care of Friday. Even though my time was limited by other responsibilities, I had to make an escape to Mathews Saturday morning.
Marsh Master (© John Gresham)
I was expecting higher winds. But the Chesapeake Bay was rather calm at Bethel Beach. I probably could have launched my kayak in it. The colors at sunrise were fine for a couple of good images. Returning to my car to switch lenses, an Osprey was kind enough to pose perfectly with the sunlight at it’s back. I was a bit frustrated with myself for letting my skills wane a bit as a couple of Dunlin and Wilson’s Plovers fed along the gently crashing waves. Even at low tide, I couldn’t cross the narrow channel that cut an island from the rest of the beach. But, I thought the sand flat would be a great area to create a panorama or two.
After a couple of hours, I pulled into Winter Harbor Haven and saw that a few kayakers had already hit the water. If it weren’t for a sermon and eulogy I had to develop, my Pungo 14o would be in Horn Harbor hunting for croakers, red drum, and speckled trout. Driving back through town, I had to make two stops. A couple of guys were selling fresh Carolina shrimp from the back of a truck. Eating the farm-raised variety for over a year, it was refreshing to taste the real McCoy again. A little sugar baby watermelon from the farmer’s market made a good desert with grilled shrimp.
BBQ Shrimp (© John Gresham)
My Saturdays in August and September will be booked at work. So, I will take a couple of days off during the week those months and make more escapes to the land and waters of my ancestry. I hope some fish will be there to greet me as well.