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TALL SHIPS AT CAPE CHARLES 2013 FESTIVAL ON THE EASTERN SHORE OF VIRGINIA

Thursday, June 27th, 2013
Runners in the Great Bay Run in Cape Charles VA registering to participate

Last Chance To Register To Compete In Cape Charles Tall Ship Festival’s Great Bay Run

Eagerly awaited with much anticipation, Saturday June 15, 2013 saw the little  Eastern Shore Virginia historic town of Cape Charles  abuzz with events from the town center to the outer reaches of the Harbor.  First off in the morning was The Great Bay Run, kick-off at 8:30. Organized by Blue Heron Realty Co. agent Eva Noonan and her friend Gary Hack, the Run was off to an early start by 7:30 am when participants could begin to sign in and receive their official PIB  badges for either the 1.25 mile fun walk/run or for the more serious folks, the 5k event.  Over 180 people registered, including kids of all ages, the young and young of heart, moms & dads pushing 3 wheel jogging strollers.  Up and down Mason Avenue, in the heart of  the Cape Charles historic area,  guys and gals of all shapes and sizes gathered in little groups, stretching ham strings, doing warm-up deep knee bends, trying to get ready for the Run, psyching up in anticipation of a hard final push needed to cross over “the Hump”, the steep  overpass above the railroad tracks near the finish line at the Marina.

 

Runners taking off from the  starting line for the Great Bay Run

Wooosh, They Are Off !

By 8:15 am, runners were lined up clear across the road at the corner of Harbor and Mason Avenues,  awaiting the starter’s gun to begin a course that would wind them down streets of Victorian and other historic homes, past views of sparkling sand dunes and shimmering blue Chesapeake Bay waters,  on out to the finish line at the new marina. Then wooosh, they were off and I slipped over to the Cape Charles Harbor  to await the first arrivals.   I’m proud to say that of the 7 Blue Heron agents and/or their family members who ran this event,  3 won first or second place in their age group– go Herons, go !   In line with being a carefully budgeted event, the donated trophies were  inscribed  antique bottles  and large shells– but  winners were  all proud smiles  as they accepted their unique prizes.  Everyone who finished the course got a colorful Great Bay Run T-Shirt as well as free after-the-race pizza and Coke to rebuild energy for the rest of the day’s fun. Race proceeds will be donated to the Leukemia Society and to Broadwater’s Track & Field Team.

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The sailing ship "Alliance" moored at the Cape Charles Harbor for the Tall Ships Festival

The “Alliance” berthed in Cape Charles for the 2013 Tall Ship Festival

Next up, a stroll through the marina to see the Tall Ships in the soft morning light– we had brought the grandkids down at sunset Friday evening to enjoy the music events scheduled for the Harbor stage  and view the ships, always interesting for young and old alike.  Although our old friend, the tall ship  Kalmar Nyckel, had earlier dropped in for an overnight anchorage, for the Festival weekend this year  Cape Charles was host to the 97 ft. Sultana, a replica of a 1768 British schooner whose job was to enforce the tea taxes prior  to the American Revolution, the 105 ft 3 masted schooner  Alliance and the 126 ft Virginia, a replica of a harbor  pilot boat used on the Bay in the early 1900’s.  No matter how many of  these replica ships I see I never cease to feel amazed that back in the day,   100 foot vessels like these routinely sailed  across stormy oceans with nothing between them and disaster but a skilled captain ( hopefully) and sheer luck– no auxiliary engine, no GPS mapping, no radar, no depth finder,  no marine weather service, no ship-to-shore radio and no rescue helicopters, just strong canvas sails, grit and determination. And a daily rum ration……  Each Festival ship offered deck tours as well as 2 hour day-sails out on the Chesapeake Bay, a great opportunity  for landlubbers and sailors alike to enjoy a taste of maritime history.  And the weather was so co-operative– cool temps, clear skies, steady breezes all weekend.

Brown Dog Ice Cream Shop in Cape Charles VA

A Crunchy Waffle Cone Filled With Brown Dog’s Lush Ice Cream Is Not To Be Missed

Good food and plenty of it, paired with lots of music, is part of the secret to a good festival and there was plenty of both in Cape Charles.  From BBQ ribs to Greek gyros,  deep dish pizza to “Aden’s Dawgs”,  washed down by everything from Kona ice to Bud Lite,  plenty of variety was available  to satisfy the ole taste buds.  The Shanty, a great new-as-of- last-year seafood restaurant right at the edge of the water at the marina,  was doing a landslide business. Huge platters of steamed hardshell crabs  accompanied by luscious grilled corn on the cob were zooming out of the kitchen at the speed of light,  I think the servers must have been wearing jet pacs they moved so fast !  Downtown, just a few minutes walk from the Harbor, Kelly’s Gingernut Pub was going full blast, the Cape  Charles Coffee House had extra tables outside for al fresco dining and the Hardware store was putting on a “bring your own hot dogs” BBQ bash  for friends and customers.  But the really, really big  smiles were coming from the folks leaving Brown Dog Ice Cream shop holding crunchy waffle cones stuffed full of the best ice cream I’ve had in a long time, made right on the premises. The only other thing I’ll say about Brown Dog  is that when you’re in town next, try a scoop of  their pina colada topped with a scoop of rum raisin.  Double yum !

A Colonial Village at Tall Ship Festival in Cape Charles VA

Colonial Village- Fun & Educational

But my favorite events were back at the Festival grounds where a very talented group from Raleigh, NC, Historic Interpretations, Inc. teamed up with a group  also from Raleigh, called the East Coast Pirate Crew, to set up a Colonial Village.  Dressed to “kill”, the  East Coast Pirates manned a ” pirate gear for sale” tent plus a tent featuring typical pirate weaponry as well as a display of the typical foodstuff found aboard a pirate ship, with members on hand interpreting same and offering samples of  the 17th century  on-board daily food staple called “hard tack”.  ( No grog offerings though, a true pirate wouldn ‘t stand for  that. )  Historic Interpretations program offerings were quite interesting, completely interactive, with all their members dressed in authentic period  costume, looking great.  The Village included a “typical Colonial kitchen” tent, complete with homemade strawberry and lemon cordials brewing, ( for which I got the recipe ), a games tent, herbs and medicines tent and 17th century “home ec” tent staffed by two very knowledgeable ladies who demonstrated weaving, embroidery , sewing and fashion tips of that era.

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A Pannier To Increase Hip Widith Appearance Under Colonial dresses

Just what every modern woman wants– a pannier to make her hips look wider !

Probably doesn’t sound that interesting but it was really fascinating. The ladies had a large hunk of what I thought was spun wool but which was actually flax ready to be spun, then woven into linen cloth, which they demonstrated on a tiny portable loom. Wow, no wonder most folks back in the day had only 2 sets of clothes– at the most.  Every woman had a ” housewife”, abbreviated to “hussif”, a cloth strip with multiple pockets on one side for important small implements such as scissors, pencil, glasses, etc., all expensive to replace. The hussif could then be rolled up tightly and stored in her sewing box which contained the rest of her sewing equipment. A typical box would hold lots of handmade sewing aids including a  wooden “egg” for darning, a lump of beeswax to stiffen thread, a thimble made of horn, soapstone to mark lines on cloth, a cloth tape measure wound up in a casing made of a large nut shell, hoops of various sizes,  and the list goes on and on.  And the fashion accessories were pretty interesting too. Corsets were laced up with a long metal instrument called a bodkin. And if you’ve ever wondered how Colonial ladies managed to have a slender waist but appear as if they were four feet wide from hip to hip, well it was thanks to a “pannier”, a very narrow belt with two short cloth barrelly things  hanging from each side to make the dress stand way out from the hips. Go figure !

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The Festival was all this and so much more.  Strolling musicians in town and at the Harbor, the Cape Charles Orchestra playing sea chanteys on Strawberry Street , sidewalk art,  a Golf Cart Scavenger Hunt, helicopter rides all day long,Coast Guard water safety program, artists and artisans galore with lovely items for sale, a great display by the Waterman’s Association,  an old time oyster “buy boat” at the marina. All capped off with the Pirates & Wenches Ball, everyone dressed in costume, dancing the night away, proceeds benefiting Cape Charles Central Park.   But  memories now–  but we do have Tall Ships Festival 2014 to look forward to.

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(Posted by Marlene Cree, licensed Virginia agent with Blue Heron Realty Co., 7134 Wilsonia Neck Dr., Machipongo, VA. )

Third Time Is A Charm For The Wallop’s Island VA Launch Of The Antares Test Rocket

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

A quick up date to my recent  post on the scrubbing of  the test  launch of  Orbital Science’s  Antares rocket from the NASA Wallop’s Island Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.  The purpose of  this test launch was to demonstrate the commercial viability of this rocket as part of  a NASA program to move  a good deal of the space program into private enterprise.  In fact,  the success of this launch will secure for Orbital  contracts for 8 resupply missions to the International Space Station, missions I believe are now being flown by Russia, which is being well compensated for same I’m sure,  so it will be nice to see that money stay right here in the good ole  US of A.   But the part that still amazes me, astounds me actually,  is that this entire effort is taking place on the northern border of  the Eastern Shore, surrounded by the bucolic bays and salt meadows of the Assateague Wildlife Refuge, being as closely observed by the herd of  Chincoteague  wild ponies as by the throng of national media reporters staged here for this launch.  Because as unlikely as it seems,  something about the  exact physical location of Wallops Island makes it one of the few places in the US  which is perfectly positioned to most easily  thrust a payload into orbit. Who would have thunk it ?

Dinner at Wrights Seafood Dinner At Wright's Seafood Restaurant Near Wallop's Island VA

Seafood Dinner With Hubby & Grandson At Wright’s Waterfront Restaurant Near Chincoteague VA

On Wednesday, after having rushed up to Wallops to see the first lift-off  attempt which was unfortunately scrubbed at T minus 12  ( space jargon for cancelling the whole darn thing 12 minutes before the  witching hour)  because of an umbilical problem (more space lingo meaning the thingamajigg connecting to the back end might fall off too early ),  we spent the rest of the evening having fun with our grandson,  visiting the Refuge and having a seafood dinner at Wright’s.  The flight was rescheduled for Saturday so once again, zip-zip, a one hour drive up to Wallops only to discover  once we got there that it was cancelled again, this time because of  excessive upper level winds  (  space-speak for it’s too darn windy out there).  Why on earth they couldn’t decide that an hour earlier rather than a half hour earlier  is a mystery to me, but there we were again, launchless in Chincoteague.

Antares rocket contrail as seen from our Eastern Shore VA backyard

The Antares Rocket Contrail Photographed From Our Eastern Shore VA Back Yard

NASA’s mission update website showed Sunday as the new  reschedule date, with 5 pm  designated as zero hour.   So about 2 pm on Sunday we started trying to decide whether to make that whole two hour  round trip for yet a third time.  But since it just seemed so windy, leaves were rustling in the trees, the wind chime on the back deck was singing its little heart out,  even our Soleri wind bell was clanging away, Hubby and I both agreed that no way are they doing to launch this thing today.  Ha, talk about famous last words !  We flipped on NASA TV, channel 184 courtesy of Dish,  about 4:30 just to double check.  Voila’ ,  the countdown was pressing on !  I just couldn’t believe it, the mission had not been scrubbed because of  the wind.  And so after two false alarm trips to see the real thing,  we were now going to have to watch it on TV instead of  getting to see, hear and feel the entire experience parked just  across Watt’s Bay from the actual launch pad. Anyway, I got my camera ready because we were pretty sure that if we rushed outside right after liftoff we would be able to see it  by looking northeast across the lawn.  And sure enough, there it was ,  streaking across the sky at a fair clip,  7900 mph according to the NASA commentator.  Got a pretty good picture of the puffy white contrail, would much rather have had one of  the lift-off,  but it was exciting nevertheless. Congrats to all involved, a new day has dawned for  Wallop’s Island, or I should say,  for the the Eastern Shore’s new Mid-Atlantic Spaceport !          (Posted by Marlene Cree, licensed  Virginia agent with Blue Heron Realty Co., 7134 Wilsonia Neck Dr.,  Machipongo VA )

5 Tips For Investing In A Second Home On Eastern Shore VA & Considering Doing Vacation Rentals To Help Defray Carry Costs

Monday, April 15th, 2013
Aerial  view of southern tip of Eastern Shore VA showing Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean

Eastern Shore Virginia Beautiful Southern Tip

For those considering investing in a  leisure home,  the beautiful southern tip of the  Eastern Shore of Virginia offers buyers an amazing variety of lifestyle choices as well as some opportunities to offset mortgage payments with income from weekly vacation  rentals. And especially  with the great deals and the low interest rates currently available, now is a great time to consider the purchase of a leisure home with a lifestyle that can make you feel like it’s vacation time all year long !      For those seeking to discover their inner mermaid , consider a beach home offering soft sands and pristine swimming waters.  For boaters,  how about a beautiful waterfront home with a backyard boat dock ?  Virginia’s Eastern Shore offers mile upon mile of saltwater shoreline to cruise by power boat, sailboat or kayak.  For golfers, what better home course than the Arnold Palmer Signature course  and the  companion Jack Nicklaus Signature Course  at Bay Creek  ?  For those who love  small towns and  historic homes,  consider the fact that settlement of  the area which is now Northampton County VA  begin before the Mayflower ever hit Cape Cod Bay !   I’m guessing that nearly a thousand historic homes  still exist on the Shore, some of which are for sale.  Dreaming about a place in the country , on a spacious land parcel  ?  Got it in spades !  And since the main economic engine for Northampton County is still agriculture,  if  owning a farm with all the possibilities – from growing crops to raising alpacas or horses- that owning a farm offers, well, we have a few  farms for sale too.  Soooo……. how to get started ?

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Jarvis dock at sunsetGolf cart with flowers 2011

 

 

 

Tip # 1.  It’ s  really important to decide on  the lifestyle you want to pursue.   I know that this seems like it should be easy and possibly self-evident but it’s not.  In fact, in my experience working with our real estate customers, there is usually a  lot of soul searching that goes into that decision  since so many  folks have multiple interests and settling on the main one is not necessarily  simply.   Especially if the likes and dislikes  of multiple people need to be factored into the equation.  Nowhere is  that more evident than in the choice between a beach home or a boating home.  You might wonder why that is– usually it’s because one party prefers beach but the other loves boating  and wants a backyard dock, leaving the conumdrum of which person will have to  drive to get to  the  marina and/ or the beach.

Tip # 2. Decide on your  purchase price budget.   This is a bit easier than it seems because as realtors we can help you with this.   Once you decide on the monthly payment amount you don’t want to exceed,  we can work  forward to give you a general home  price range this monthly payment will handle.  Given today’s historic low  interest rates, I think you will be exceedingly pleased at the price range home that your  stipulated payment will control in the current market.

Tip #3. Start previewing homes on- line to get a feel for the homes available in your price range with the lifestyle amenity you selected in step # 1.  Blue Heron’s main website, www.blueheronva.com , is organized by lifestyle, we’ve tried to make it easy to locate the type of property you want without searching a hundred other things first. ( In fact, we have gotten a lot of complements on how user- friendly our website actually is.)  Each property  has an individual data sheet  that can be printed or bookmarked, making it easy to  keep track of  any particular property.  And don’t forget to order our free prime property catalogue, on-line from our home page or call 800-258-3437.

Tip#4. Make an appointment to come visit the Eastern Shore and see our beautiful properties for yourself.  The Shore is a relaxed, low-key area with wide open green spaces  and a comfortable rural feel, interspersed by small coastal towns and historic villages. And for icing on the cake,  Northampton County is  less than an hour’s drive from the Hampton Roads area ( Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake), the 32nd largest metro area in the US.   We’re  not for everyone of course, plenty of day-to- day shopping but no huge malls, not much for bright lights and loud music .  But if Capt. John Smith’s  1609  comment about the Shore appeals to you: ” Heaven and Earth never agreed better to frame a place for man’s habitation”  then you might be a great candidate  for the  Shore.  Life on the Eastern Shore  is like having your cake and eating it too, a relaxed lifestyle here but access  major shopping, cultural and culinary amenities ( plus an international airport)  within 30 minutes to an hour,  depending on the neighborhood you select.  Many of the folks purchasing a leisure home on the  Shore are intending to live here full-time in the future, possibly for retirement or relocation,  so then having metro type amenities within easy driving distance becomes more inportant in the  overall equation.

Tip#5. Decide  if you want to defray some of your carry costs by doing weekly vacation rentals.  Blue Heron offers a vacation rental department  which can handle rental and most of the management  of your vacation home.  When you visit the Shore to look at properties we can introduce you to our  Vacation Rental Manager who can discuss  the program with you.  We work with owners to set up a schedule of  the weeks  during summer that they want personal use of their home and the weeks they  want to rent it.  May  to September is the main vacation season here which leaves plenty of time during the rest of the year for  lots of  additional personal use.  Since  Virginia’s Eastern Shore has  a terrific climate, with long pleasant Springs and Falls, you can get a  lots of use and pleasure out of your vacation home while still  defraying some carry costs by doing vacation rentals.

Hopefully these 5 tips were helpful.  We would love to hear from you and show you some of the great deals out there  right now.  With the deals available and the current amazingly low interest rates, we think it’s a great time to consider investing  in one of our beautiful Eastern  Shore homes  regardless of whether or not  you are thinking of becoming a part of a vacation rental program. So give us a  call at 800-258-3437  to make an appointment or to order  your copy of our free  prime property catalogue.     ( Posted by Marlene  Cree, licensed Virginia agent with Blue Heron Realty Co., 7134 Wilsonia Neck Dr., Machipongo VA )

 

 

 

 

 

Gorgeous 90 Acre Farm Near The Water For Sale On The Eastern Shore of Virginia– Perfect For Hobby Or Commercial Farming

Friday, March 22nd, 2013
Aerial view of 90 acres farm near Nassawadox  VA

Aerial view of 90 acre farm near Nassawadox VA

For anyone thinking of  buying a farm or little farmette  here on  the Eastern Shore of Virginia and getting  “back to the land”  so to speak,  you’ll be in good company.  For literally hundreds of years,   the  traditional economic engines of the Eastern Shore  have been seafood harvesting, commercial farming and small family truck farming.  In fact,  Northampton County, Virginia  still has some of the most productive farms in the entire state.  But like everything else, things change and some of the smaller farms are being purchased by folks who aren’t planning to make a full-time living in farming but who are interested in getting involved in doing something on the land, even if it doesn’t provide their  full-time living.  Blue Heron Realty Co. has just listed a beautiful 90 +/- acre farm near the water  with exceptional soils and a great  location, a property which would be absolutely perfect for starting a small farm operation.  From raising horses to  planting a boutique vineyard to setting out a few acres of  organic tomates to a raising a small herd of alpacas to becoming a serious beekeeper,  there is a lot of fun and satisfaction that comes with getting back to a simpler life with hobby type farming and this particular farm could help in getting started on that path. ( For more information on this property, go to www.blueheronva.com/farm_for_sale/ )  Obviously a  back to the land life is not for everyone but, as a Realtor, over the years I’ve had a lot of fun and satisfaction helping some very interesting folks, from all sorts of professions, find just the right little farm or farmette here on the Eastern Shore from which to  create a new lifestyle and move in new directions with their life.

Alpaca resting on ground

Raising alpacas can be lots of fun

For example, we recently represented a client who bought a 20  acre parcel from a seller who whose company was promoting and  transfering him to the West Coast.  The seller,  an executive with the  Virginia Beach branch of a large firm  who commuted for 5 years from the Shore to Virginia Beach daily,  had acquired, a couple at a time,  a little herd of  cute, cute, cute  alpacas.  He said that when he first moved to the Eastern Shore he had absolutely no idea that he would get interested in farming and now,  just a few years into it,  the hardest thing for him about the entire move was having to leave his alpacas.  He and his wife had totally fallen in love with being out and about on their farmette,  raising these  gentle,  fleecy beauties had become a life-changing experience !

Horse grazing near Nassawadox VA

Get in touch with your inner cowboy

That really isn’t really unusual  on the Eastern Shore– I know so many folks who have some acreage who are doing  all kinds of  ” back to the land ”  things with their property.   The important thing is to have a  parcel of land with rich, well-drained soils  because whether its growing a crop or doing animal husbandry, soil structure and drainage is critical for both crops and pasture lands.  A lot of folks here have horses, some for show, others for breeding. I even know one couple who has built an amazing dressage show ring on their waterfront acreage, complete with bringing a special trainer in from the West Coast to work with their very talented horses.  Lots of other folks here have just a couple  horses and love to participate in the formal Trail Rides sponsored bythe Eastern Shore Trail Ride Association.

Another client who recently purchased about 10 acres of beautiful waterfront is looking forward to managing  a small herd of milk goats when they build on their property.   Their hobby is making goat cheese and cheese making  is a real passion for them.  Not only do they make the soft, creamy goat cheese that has the  lush  tang and is so nice when mixed with herbs but they also make a rich form of  feta cheese, one of my husband’s favorites– give him a little feta, crispy crackers, some salty Greek olives and a glass of  Cabernet , he’s set.  Dealing with goats and making goat cheese would not be my thing but these folks  absolutely are looking forward to it  as their  retirement activity, something with a challenge to keep them active and something to bring them in closer touch with the land.  And  I am looking forward to easy access to a steady supply  of  their flavorful homemade goat cheese !

Open land for cultivating near Nassawadox VA

Rich sandy loam soils perfect for cultivation, pasture, horticulture and much more

Which brings me back to  the excellent 90 acre farm for sale near Nassawadox.  Tremendous possibilities abound for uses for this property.  The soils are BOJAC, the best soil type on the Eastern Shore, rich, sandy, well-drained, perfect for any use whether cultivation, vineyard, orchard, horses, alpacas, honey bees, etc.   You name it,  this is a great piece of property for all sorts of land -based activities. About half of the property is in woodlands, the balance is in open fields.  Location is great,  within 15 minutes of  shopping , boat ramps, beaches, premier golf, medical, restaurants, etc. yet far enough away that you feel that you are out in the country, possibly a twenty first century pioneer, a rare opportunity indeed.    ( Posted by Marlene Cree, licensed  Virginia  agent with Blue Heron Realty Co., 7134 Wilsonia Neck Dr., Machipongo, VA )

 

 

Ringing In The New Year In Historic Williamsburg, VA

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

This year,  as has been our habit for the last 10 or so years, we  made a New Year’s Day trek to Williamsburg, VA to enjoy lunch and a leisurely walk through the Colonial Historic Area  to admire this year’s  door  decorations.   Fortunately it’s just a hop, skip and jump from the Eastern Shore of Virginia to Williamsburg….. Well, maybe more of a longish glide.  As in glide smoothly over the incredible Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, sparkling blue waters of the merge point of the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean swirling below,  a sight that never ceases to amaze me with its ever changing face.  Sometimes smooth as glass, other times presenting as long, undulating waves, yet again as wild angry chop, covered with foam, something different every time one goes across.  Then gliding west on Rt. 64 which, on New Year’s Day, usually is a fat, low-key drive because most folks are likely trying to get the ole eyeballs focused after a rollicking New Year’s Eve.  Anyway, it seems like no time at all and one is on Colonial Parkway, heading for Duke of Gloucester Street.

The Historic Area of Colonial Williamsburg is an on-going restoration effort of the  Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, was made possible by massive endowments by the John D. Rockefeller family, is a truly  amazing place, a living history museum consisting of an entire town, replicated from the Colonial era.  It’s like a time travelers dream, suddenly you’re back in the 1700’s, walking down cobblestone streets, past shops filled with long gone items like candles, bonnets, leather pockets, thick pottery, pewter mugs, etc.,  as well as replicas of the one and  two page local newspapers of that era which are so amazing to read. Horse- drawn grand coaches clatter down the streets, young drummers from the Fife and Bugle Corps march purposefully towards the Governor’s Palace, drums counting the cadence, aromas of hot spiced apple cider waft through the air as folks from literally all around the globe visit during the holidays to see the Historic Area and the famous Christmas door wreaths and swags.

A quick lunch at one of the several taverns was in order before setting out to see this year’s crop of  decorations.   Taverns were public houses of that era and were places for visitors and travelers to eat and relax. The Foundation offers 4 authentic tavern experiences with menus offering foods  similar to the dishes which would have been popular with folks like George Washington or Thomas Jefferson back  in the day.   At dinner,  what would have been typical Colonial era entertainers stroll through the dining rooms, singing and accompanying themselves on lute and mandolin.  Both the servers and the entertainers are in authentic costume, the lighting is by candle which creates an old-fashioned ambience.  My favorite tavern for a quick lunch is  Josiah Chownings, which was a real tavern, operated by a real Josiah Chowning back in the mid-1700’s.   I especially look forward to their peanut soup appetizer which is served with long strips of chunky,  very dry, crisp seasoned bread called “sippets”.   Peanut soup probably sounds less than palatable but well made, with a good quality chicken stock and heavy cream, it is silky smooth and absolutely delicious.  My husband often orders the Brunswick Stew which is a very old Southern dish, popular still, chicken stewed with corn, lima beans, tomatoes, herbs, etc..   The original recipe for Brunswick Stew called for squirrel instead of chicken, no squirrel for me, thanks anyway, but with chicken it is quite  tasty.

Lunch enjoyed, we set out for a leisurely walk  to view  this year’s wreaths.    Somehow, we never seem to tire of looking at these lovely, all- natural decorations.  No matter how many times we have gone to Williamsburg over the holidays,  it always seems that fresh and new ideas hang on each  door. Every conceivable type of plant material is used in quite creative ways —- fresh cedar, pine, Frasier fir and boxwood sprigs are used to form the basic wreath which is then decorated with all sorts of colorful fruits, seed pods, magnolia leaves, grasses, dried flowers, pine cones, shells, etc.  Over the years,  these lovely wreaths  become so famous that the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation finally published an elaborate hardcover book entitled “Christmas Decorations From Williamsburg” which gives step by step directions on how to make a Colonial style wreath at home.  Order the book at  http://www.Williamsburgmarketplace.com.  I have the book but confess that somehow I’ve just never gotten around to making one myself although the directions are quite well illustrated.  Maybe next year…..

(Posted by Marlene Cree, licensed Virginia agent with Blue Heron Realty Co., 7134  Wilsonia Neck Dr., Machipongo, VA)

“Living a Modern Life with History” Symposium At Ker Place Museum In Onancock, VA October 19-21, 2012

Friday, December 21st, 2012

My grandson Charlie Morgan attended a week of history camp at Ker Place, the headquarters of the Eastern Shore of Virginia Historical Society.

Presented by the Eastern Shore of Virginia Historical Society, http://www.kerplace.org the seventy attendees at the historic Ker Place Museum in Onancock, Virginia had the opportunity to tour spectacular Eastern Shore historic  homes, enjoy a gourmet dinner in an early 18th century home  and gather the wisdom of eight nationally acclaimed experts on diverse subjects related to the historical theme of this symposium.  Friday, the first day  of the symposium, was dedicated to touring five of  Virginia Eastern Shore’s very special Chesapeake Bay area homes, both historic  and new, to see the many different ways that folks live a modern life with history. Emphasis was placed on architectural features and their preservation and restoration, the interior design components that showcase their owners’  lifestyles  and the landscaping that enhances the exterior features of the homes and environment. After a full day of lectures from the experts on Saturday, the attendees were treated to dinner at Vaux Hall (cir. 1710) located on Warehouse Creek, a colorful saltwater  inlet from the Chesapeake Bay,  only a few miles outside the historic town of Onancock. This early Georgian colonial home is believed to be the oldest two-story residence on the Eastern Shore and features beautifully preserved wood paneling, moldings, doors and heart-pine floors. On Sunday, the program finished with three more lectures of very special interest.  To see a full program of this wonderfully educational event go to http://www.kerplace.org/symposium.pdf .  The Eastern Shore of Virginia has many properties with 17th and 18th century homes,  some with accessory buildings that date as  far back as the 1670’s, and many more homes dating from the 19th and early 20th century. With such a rich collection of historic homes in our relatively small geographical area, a peninsula which  is literally surrounded by water,  it is indeed fortunate that we have a historical society so dedicated towards education and appreciation of our heritage.  Anyone who loves the Eastern Shore,  residents and visitors alike,  should not pass up the opportunity to tour the amazing Ker Place Museum in Onancock,  headquarters of the Eastern Shore Historical Society.

Although I was unable to attend the symposium’s  house tour and dinner, I made an effort to attend several  of the lectures on both Saturday and Sunday. As a REALTOR who has had the privilege of handling the sale and restoration of dozens of historic homes,  I wanted to expand my knowledge base to better help me serve my clients and customers, and ultimately the unique historic properties I represent. In particular, I wanted to gain a better understanding of the history and architecture of a historic  home  that Blue Heron Realty Co. has listed  for sale  located  on sixty acres of land near Machipongo, Virginia.  This property,  known as “Prospect Hill”,  is only a few miles from my own home on the Eastern Shore.   In its heyday, it was once a thriving farm and the grand old  house, believed to be circa 1790-1820,  offers great promise for restoration and renovation to bring it up to 21st century standards. If this old house could talk, what would she say?  I have many questions for her and would love to share the answers with a prospective buyer who has to consider restoring and then living in this old house. ( To see details and photos of this property visit  www.blueheronva.com/historic_real_estate/ and look for “Prospect Hill.”

"Prospect Hill" cir. 1790 awaits a new owner who will love and cherish her wonderful, charming heritage.

The first lecture I attended was a talk by Matthew Webster, the Director of Historic Architectural Resources of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. He emphasized methods for indentifying the signs that reveal the architectural history of old buildings, a subject that interested me hugely. He spoke about examining the wood framing for saw marks, checking the joinery of posts and beams, looking for different layers of paint, identifying the fastenings of the structure such as nails, dating the types of windows, and determining the type and bonds of brick masonry. Also, he gave a study of different types of houses according to the time period of their construction which would be exemplified by certain styles of architecture such as Georgian 1720-1780, Federal 1780-1820 and Greek Revival 1820-1850. Accompanying his lecture with projected photographs, he distinctly pointed out the different characteristics of which he spoke.

The second lecture was given by Chris Ohrstrom, a founder and co-owner of Adelphi Paper Hangings, LLC. They specialize in reproducing antique wall papers and he gave a wonderful illustrated talk about their special process that revives the old tools and craftsmanship of the industry from the 18th and 19th centuries. I was mesmerized by the old techniques, his descriptions of their factories and tooling, and the examples of wallpapers his firm manufactures. I learned that wallpapers were meant to be only a shortlived wallcovering that imitated much more expensive wall decorations.

On Sunday, I was glad to hear the talk given by Ken Farmer, well-known antiques appraiser from the PBS series “Antiques Roadshow”,  who has been collecting and selling the finest antiques from his shops in Radford and Charlottesville, Virginia. The gist of his remarks centered around the theme of “antiques are the epitomy of green – recycling”,   informing his audience about how to find, evaluate, and purchase antiques. I learned that oftentimes one can purchase better quality used furniture while avoiding the higher cost of good quality reproductions that have a lower value.

The second lecture that Sunday was given by Jeffrey Price, the director of Sales and Marketing for Virginia Lime Works. His company specializes in reproducing mortars for the restoration of aged masonry construction, especially from the 18th and 19th centuries. His slide show presentation demonstrated the old techniques for making lime as well as how old handmade bricks can be damaged by the use of modern mortars, a risk that never occurred to me when I have examined restored colonial brickwork.

The final lecture was the most entertaining,  given by Paul “Chip” Callaway, a certified landscape architect/owner of Calloway and Associates.  His hilarious commentary that accompanied a voluminous slide show of his special projects, those restoring the gardens and landscape of historic buildings, kept the mood of his audience light, focused and amazed.

Handmade doors with mortise and tennon joinery open from the through passage to the living room in the earliest part of the home. Note the deep, paneled recess of the doorway, indicating a former exterior wall.

Now fortified with this interesting knowledge base gained from my attendance at the symposium, I again visited my listing “Prospect Hill” located on Seaside Rd. approximately 22 miles north of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. I had previously guessed that the first section of the home was of Federal design and construction around the period of 1790-1810, the second, larger and more ornate addition in  a Greek Revival tradition dated around 1830  and the third section, a one and one-half story addition containing the kitchen, was of the 1890’s period.  Upon my next visit to the property, I used the tips from the symposium to confirm or deny my original assessments. First, up in the attic area and down in the basement, I examined the exposed beams and joinery for sawmarks and fasteners. Second, I studied the great wall of bricks and exposed chimneys for telltale signs of handmade bricks, like thumb and finger impressions. Third, I then closely examined the windows and glass. My post-symposium investigation revealed that the home was constructed with oversized handhewn, heart of pine beams with diagonal but straight sawmarks and plenty of mortice and tennon joinery. Also, I found square cut nails with machine cut heads, both indicating the first section was probably produced shortly after 1790. This part of the house was finished with interior wood paneling, fireplace mantel and cabinets distinctly styled from the Federal period, (cir. 1780-1820).

In the Greek Revival addition, handcarved wood panel wainscoting with marbellized baseboards - note fluted columns in panelling.

The second part, a larger more ornate addition was finished with elaborately decorated woodwork, especially the very fancy, intricately hand-carved fireplace mantels. Further, the marbellized paintwork on the baseboards and the fluted doorway surrounds confirmed the style of the Greek Revival period (cir. 1820-1850). This addition has a massive 3-brick thick, free-standing three story brick endwall laid in the Flemish bond pattern. The top three feet of the exposed chimney had been blasted by lightening and I found on the ground plenty of bricks with thick slabs of mortar. Close examination of the bricks revealed holes and thumbprints, indicating that these were handmade sometime prior to 1833.

One of three massive handcarved fireplace mantels of museum quality - note the marbelized paint on the baseboard below the wood panel wainscoting.

Lastly, off to the east of the home is an overgrown boxwood garden of formal design interspersed with crepe myrtle and one of the few cork trees  on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. The size of the boxwoods indicates an age of well over one hundred years and the garden certainly begs for restoration and rejuvenation.

The 1890's kitchen addition - note the floor-to-ceiling cupboard and tin ceiling.

As the listing agent, I have become very attached to this old house and her museum quality architectural features. Her situation on a sixty acre farm of fields and forest is ideal for a country estate property and a lovely 3/8 mile driveway approach draws one’s imagination back to the days of self-sufficiency and fox hunts. Many generations and all their attendant celebrations have graced this property and she now awaits a new owner who will love and cherish her spacious, well-appointed rooms that, if walls could speak, could tell many stories. For even more information on this home, call  David Kabler at Blue Heron Realty Co., 757-331-4885 .

The 2012 National Book Festival-Part II: Authors, Authors Everywhere

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

Most Of Our Group At The 2012 Book Fest

Pavillion Of The States- So Great !

If you are a book lover, you can’t help but be excited by the National Book Festival held each September  on the National Mall in Washington D.C.   We are fervent book lovers  so the sight and sounds of  so many nationally acclaimed authors giving interviews, making speeches  and autographing their books  is big time fun for us.  Well worth the 4+ hour drive from the Eastern Shore of Virginia to D.C.   The 2012 Festival  was no exception.  Sponsored by the Library of Congress,  held on Saturday and Sunday the 22nd and 23 of  September,  with over 125  authors, poets and illustrators this year,  the highest number in the history of the Festival,  taking  to the National Mall to “do their thing”.  Kicked off  in 2001 by First Lady Laura Bush,  a  former librarian,  the National Book  Festival has become a  big event with an estimated attendance last year of  over 200,000 people and probably a lot more than that this year.   From adults to teens down to little kids,  there is something fun for every reader.  Librarians from each state in the Union come to help staff the “Pavilion of the States”  where  every state has a booth featuring great giveaways for kids including  maps, book markers, stickers, brochures,  etc. about that state.   C-Span brings its  colorful big bus, the better to interview various authors for playback on Book TV.  And  as it has in previous years, once again, C-Span  gave away big complimentary cloth bags, hot pink this year,  for folks to carry their accumulated books and other goodies, a truly helpful  gesture.  Thank-you, C-Span.

Book Signings Underway

The Festival has two over-arching  components– the speeches given by the authors about their work and  the book signings by these authors after their speeches. Fortunately, all the author presentations are videotaped and made available on the Library of Congress website so it’s easy to watch your favorite author’s presentation at a later date in the comfort of your  own home.  Which leaves the book signings as our favorite part of the day.  The hard decision is selecting  which authors  to pick for the signings.  Each author will usually only sign 2 or 3 books and the lines are long so it’s hard to meet many authors in a day.  Especially when several authors you are trying to see are doing their signings in nearly the same time frame, figuring out how to juggle the lines is essential.  Definitely helpful to be there with a group so that multiple people can be standing in the lines  for  different authors. This year we were  lucky to be able to meet and get books signed and personalized by six different authors, about max we could manage and still have time for the States Pavilion.  Actually, when I look back on it, getting all six  was amazing because our first selected author’s signing,Gail Tsukiyama,  didn’t start until 11 am and the last selected author, Jeffery Toobin, didn’t start until 4:00 pm so that we actually did 6 authors in about 5 hours, less than an hour in line per person.  Of course,  there were a couple  authors whose books I brought with me, ever hopeful,  but convinced  that  their lines would be impossibly long.   Sure enough,  they were- Thomas Friedman and Patricia Cornwell had lines so monster that they might just as well have reached from the Washington Monument to the moon  they were so impossible.  I had brought 2 books by each of them,  just in case I was wrong in my predictions– but sadly  their books never left my  combination  “chair- book storage-weather protector,”    my big, long-handled,  rolling cooler on wheels !   (  Advice: Going to a Book Festival ?   Never leave home without your big, rolling cooler. )

Gail Tsukiyama Signing Her Latest Novel

First up for us was Gail Tsukiyama, author of  the delightful novel,   Street of 1000 Blossoms, also one of the authors invited to the very first Book Festival.  We were in second place in her line which meant that  she and we  were still bright- eyed and bushy- tailed.  Having brought several copies of her brand new book, A Hundred Flowers, as well as two copies each of her previous bestsellers, Women of the Silk and  The Samurai’s Garden, she was naturally inquisitive as to why we had so many duplicate copies.  Gifts, I said, Christmas gifts  for friends and relatives.  And  I’m sure they will not only enjoy her books but will also love her handwriting, it  is so beautiful, a striking Chinese calligraphy style hand,  the most elegant handwriting of any  autograph in my collection.  Since going to  my first Book Festival some years back, I have found that a personalized signed book from someone’s favorite author or about someones preferred subject matter is really a wonderful and unique gift.   And  unless the lines are just crushingly long, most  of the authors at the Festival are quite willing to write personalized  messages in the books they autograph and the volunteer staff  hands out little Post-Its so you can write out the message you want included as the author signs the book’s title page.  I’ve also found from experience that it’s a bit hard to decide on the perfect inscription while standing in line so over the years I’ve come to the point where decide which book is for whom and them I write out the inscription I want for them on my own Post-It, all ready to go beforehand. No doubt it reduces spontaneity but, on the other hand,  after one has stood for 3-4 hours in various lines in baking hot  ( 90 degrees this year) or damp drizzle ( year before last) , spontaneity may be somewhat over-rated.

Stephen L. Carter, Author, Philosopher, Professor

Next up, Stephen L. Carter. A super- interesting fellow… professor of law at Yale Law School and author of numerous non-fiction works on legal, political and moral issues.  For whatever reason, in 2002 he decided to turn his hand to fiction with his debut novel, The Emperor of Ocean Park, which was a New York Times best seller.  He has since written four more striking novels, his latest being The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln.  They have all been can’t- put- them- down- once- you- start  books. In fact, I have introduced so many people to Dr. Carter’s novels I think that I should get a commission, but really, they are all terrific !  My favorite is New England White, a blockbuster of  a book, a suspense novel about politics set at an Ivy League university.  I’ve heard him in various discussion panels on cable news where he  always  was very knowledgeable. At the Book Festival he was quite personable,  making a humorous comment as he signed our books, 3 books per person times the 3 of us as we sort of all stood at the table together.  So I am pleased to say that I now have a signed,  personalized first edition copy of each of his novels plus 4 extra copies of Lincoln  to give as gifts.

Waving At Marine One As It Departs The White House

I must confess that  the Stephen L. Carter book signing alone would have made the whole trip worthwhile for me but still to come were several more, Robert Caro ( whose 4 tier line was so long he would only sign one book per person ),Tony Horowiz, Michael Connelly and Jeffery Toobin. By the end of the day we met and gotten books signed  by all four of those gentlemen. ( Toobin, who is the author of two books about the  U.S. Supreme Court,  was very  funny and quite down- to- earth, wise cracking that there was just about nothing he loved more than folks who buy multiple copies of his books.)  It was really a wonderful day.  We had lots of goodies for the kids from the States Pavilion, we had met 6 terrific authors, we had watched  the flags surrounding the Washington Monument flutter smartly in the breeze, we had waved gaily to Marine One, the President’s helicopter,  as it  passed overhead on it’s way to the White House just  a couple blocks away, not sure if the President was inside,  but we waved mightily anyway.  And for icing on the cake, we still have all the videotaped author speeches to look forward once  are added to the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival website,  http://www.loc.gov/bookfest/    What more could one ask from the National Book Festival except to hope to be there again next year, ready for more fun and more authors !

(Posted by Marlene Cree, licensed Virginia agent with Blue Heron Realty Co., 7134  Wilsonia Neck Dr., Machipongo, VA)

Cape Charles,VA Historic District Condo For Sale

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

In the heart of  the little coastal town of  Cape Charles, VA  lies its charming Commercial Historic District.  The original buildings generally date back to the early 1900’s and  most  have been fully renovated, ready to do  yeoman’s service for another 100 years… at least !    And on the prime western end of the Mason Avenue’s  Commercial Historic District, Blue Heron Realty Co. has three beautifully designed commercial space condos for sale,  ranging in size from 1100 to 1500 sq. ft.    Absolutely perfect for a multitude of commercial uses,  from virtually any type of office office to most retail uses,  these three spaces are very attractively priced, ranging from $120,000 to $150,000.  Each condo offers excellent  street visibility and signage as well as  one of the best  locations in downtown Cape Charles, only 2 blocks to the beach.

If you already own a small business or are thinking of starting a business, you may wonder if owning your office or shop space  instead of renting  it offers  many benefits.  My personal opinion is a resounding Yes!   The first and most important is that owning  gives you greater control and stability for your business which results in  better control over your own destiny.  Assuming that you have confidence in  your business, there is a great deal of security in owning rather than renting your business space.  No more big rent hikes !   No need to worry about the possibility of  an  announcement that the landlord is selling the building  and suddenly the terms or even the actual renewal of  your lease is in question.  And  you are not paying off someone else’s mortgage, you are building up equity for yourself so at the end of the day if  you  sell,   your money comes back to you instead of your landlord.   Appreciation in value is important as is the ability to be able to also sell your physical premises should you decide to sell your business which might be very beneficial to the deal.  And any renovations you do over time accrue fully to your benefit, not to the landlord’s.

All three of these commercial units are on the ground floor of an attractive  three story mixed-use brick building constructed in 1901.  The building’s  second floor consists of 2 large residential condos,  the 3rd  floor boasts a 3000 + sq. ft. penthouse  with a double veranda overlooking the town and its colorful harbor.  All three commercial units are currently in use as office space.  the 1100 sq. ft. units are  professional offices– a dentist and a chiropractor,  each of whom rotate between multiple offices,  practicing  one or two days per week in Cape Charles.  Each unit is currently configured with a reception area,  several office or treatment rooms and a bathroom so clearly easy to convert to other types of office use or even retail if desired.

And it would be hard to beat the small town ambiance of Cape Charles if you are looking to open a business in a friendly coastal area.  In fact, the June, 2012 issue of  Southern Living Magazine named Cape Charles as one of its “Best Little Beach Towns“, quite an honor.  As it’s just a short walk to the beach from these condos,  a quick stroll on the boardwalk would be great for keeping the waistline trim.   Drop in at the beautiful Cape Charles Coffeehouse for a quick cup of  coffee on the way to the office.   ( The Coffeehouse  also has a great lunch menu, with one of the best chicken salad sandwiches ever.  And for dessert, don’t miss  Roberta’s luscious coconut cake with cream cheese icing and lemon custard filling.  Absolutely delectable, unbeatable this side of the moon !  )  Or walk  just a half block to Kelly’s Pub for lunch, home of a lip-smacking good char- broiled burger accompanied by the best dill pickles, straight from New York City.  Or try Rayfield’s Pharmacy’s  honest-to-goodness old- fashioned soda fountain lunch counter featuring, among other items,  a really delicious BLT, overstuffed with  plenty of  B and nice ripe T.    And yes, of course,  they do have milkshakes, sundaes, and ice cream sodas, chocolate’s the best !   Banking ?   Walk to the credit union just two blocks away.  Odds and ends ?   If  the hardware store doesn’t have it, just don’t you worry,  they’ll order it.  Need a bottle of  wine for dinner ?  Stop in at Gull Hammock on the way home, where by the way, each  Friday they have a new shipment of Prize’s homemade bread, sinfully good, especially the cinnomon raisin sourdough. Want to take a client to a fine dinner ?  Five minutes away you’ll find Aqua Restaurant  overlooking the Chesapeake Bay, home to excellent  food in a beautiful setting.  Need some decor ideas ?  Try your nearby neighbors at  Best Nest,  209 Gallery or  Stage Door Gallery.  The point being that within Cape Charles’ quaint Historic District, instead of having to let your fingers do the walking,  you can have the pleasure of getting out and about, among your friends, neighbors and fellow business owners,  doing errands and business the old-fashioned way–person to person.  For more information on  buying  your own business condo, call Blue Heron Realty Co., 757-678-5200 or 757-331-4885.

(Posted by Marlene Cree, licensed Virginia agent with Blue Heron Realty Co., 7134  Wilsonia Neck Dr., Machipongo, VA)

Tomatoes, Butterbeans, Corn and Peaches– All Waiting For Me At Pickett’s Harbor Farm Market

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

We love the Pickett’s Harbor Farm Market just south of Cape Charles, Virginia anytime but this year especially.  The Eastern Shore of Virginia has lovely rich, loamy soils and we always plant a decent sized garden  but this year our  garden got off  to a very rocky start.    Late, late, late getting it in and then short of time to tend it.  On top of all that, the black filter cloth we always put down in long rows over the entire garden space to eliminate most of the weeding  turned out to be dark grey and worthless.  The weeds grew underneath it  like, well, weeds and we ended up tilling the whole thing under, okra included,  and  just started over again.  So now we have a second-time-around  garden,  started in late June when anybody with a lick of sense knows that a really successful garden needs to be planted at least by the end of April.

Stage right,  enter  Pickett’s Harbor Farm market,  now the star for obtaining our fresh produce for cooking wonderful only-in-the-summer  meals.   Because no self-respecting person who loves Southern Cooking  can do without the essential fresh ingredients for same. Summertime cooking  calls for, no actually demands,  fresh vine-ripened tomatoes, from one’s own garden or at least grown locally,  red globes of  flavor, thick slices of which grace the dinner table almost every summer’s eve.   And butter beans,  little teeney cousins of  the big green or speckled limas,  sweet,  melt-in-the-mouth, one of my husband’s favorite summer treats, so very, very much better fresh than frozen.    And corn, fresh sweet corn,  Silver Queen variety our favorite.  Who can say enough about luscious sweet corn, steamed and eaten fresh off the cob, accompanied only by sweet cream butter, pepper and a little salt, or salt substitute as the case might be.    Or grilled, slathered with lime butter or Mexican style crema.  (  However, the South certainly doesn’t have a lock on a love of sweet corn.  If you really want to hear someone wax truly elequently  about the marvels of  fresh corn,  just listen to an NPR  Garrison Keillor “Prarie Home Companion” show in summer.  Inevitably,  part of  his stellar shows  in summer will be devoted to enumerating the wonders of  Minnosota’s  sweet corn, picked from the garden and shucked just minutes before popping it into its steam bath. )

But  maybe best of all is the delectable dish you achieve by combining  those marvelous three — homegrown tomatoes, fresh butter beans and fresh sweet corn, the  Three  Amigos of  Summertime Southern Cooking.   Succotash, one of summer’s greatest ever veggie combinations !  However, for this dish to be at its zenith,  it is essential to milk the corn.  For those who have never milked corn  (let alone a cow),  the procedure goes like so:  First, put on an apron. ( This is fundamentally important.  Trust me,  you’ll see why once you get started. )  Next, make sure you have removed absolutely all the silk from the shucked corn ear because nothing spoils a heavenly bite of succotash more than having to pull  strands of corn silk from one’s mouth.   Then,  with a sharp paring knife,  gently slice down the cob, cutting off the top half of the kernels, turning  until you’ve done the entire cob.  This is best done in a deep bowl, with the cob’s  butt end pointed downwards and resting against the bottom of the bowl.  Now for the milking– take a  spoon and run it down the cut kernels,  pushing firmly against the cob, to get all the rest of the corn and the corn milk.  Do this twice to make sure you’ve gotten every drop  that  cob has to give.  This is a bit messy and I always put the bowl into the kitchen sink while I’m cutting  and milking,  the better to keep most of the  flying bits of corn off the apron and confined to the sink for easy clean-up.  Everybody prepares  their succotash according to a  family tradition. I like to cook the butter beans with a small bit of smoked ham or bacon until almost done, then add very ripe tomatoes coarsely chopped,  a little savory or basil  and then the corn, proportions for the dish being about 50% butter beans, 20% tomato, 30% corn.   Cook until  mouth-meltingly tender, maybe a bit of butter added at the end, pepper and salt to taste.   Sublime, and when served with classic Southern fried chicken, a triumph !

But a post on Pickett’s Harbor Farm’s summer produce  would definitely not be complete without an Ode to Peaches.  Not the half green, rot before they ripen,  little things found in  the grocery store.  No, I’m talking about the sweet, juicy beauties grown right there on the farm,  rows and rows of peach trees, laden with fruit, beautiful  peaches slowly ripening,  glistening in the sun, to be picked only when completely ready.  And the aroma !   Does anything smell sweeter,  more appealing,  than a basket of ripe red peaches, their tantalizing deliciousness just wafting upward ?   I think not.  All winter and all spring, I wait for peaches.  And when they finally come in, about the beginning of July,  we make the first of many  “peach runs”.  Eaten whole with juice dripping down the hand, swimming in ice cold milk atop breakfast cereal, sliced in a dish with vanilla Haagen Dazs and a drizzle of brandy, served over shortcake and topped with raspberries and whipped cream, made into a cobbler with a few fresh blueberries,  layered in a deep-dish peach custard pie— let me count the ways that our family loves the fabulous peaches, Sugar Baby watermelons,  juicy cantalopes and all the other produce expertly  grown by the Nottingham family– Tammy,  W.T. , Josh and the rest of the  gang.   We  love you guys,  thanks so much,  summer just wouldn’t be the same without Pickett’s Harbor Farm Market !    (www.pickettsharborfarms.com ) (Posted by Marlene Cree, licensed Virginia agent with Blue Heron Realty Co., 7134  Wilsonia Neck Dr., Machipongo, VA)

Little City By The Sea- Lunch In Wachapreague, VA

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Wachapreague, Virginia, AKA  “Flounder Capitol of the World”,  AKA  “Little City By The Sea”, is also the home to  the  Island House Restaurant,  one of  Virginia Eastern Shore’s most picturesque waterfront dining spots.  Located on our seaside, along  the salty banks of  a deep inlet from the Atlantic Ocean,  not far from some colorfully named towns like Horsey, Painter and Modest Town, Wachapreague is a tiny Victorian-era  town.  Tiny as in population 232 per  the last census.  Although it’s  known East Coast-wide  for superb  fishing and its super-popular annual “Marlin Catch and Release”  tournament,  for my husband,  its main claims  to fame  are  the fabulous crabcakes and elegantly presented , fresher than fresh, soft shell crabs served at the Island House.

Which brings us to last Sunday, a  sunny and warm but not too warm day, perfect for a little drive and a late lunch.  And  hubby had a hankering,  a hankering that he felt could only be satisfied by a  sauteed lightly in butter,  aromatic with “Old Bay” spice,  flecked with tiny pieces of chopped parsley,  served only when golden brown,  delicious to the very last morsel, big fat crabcake from the Island House.  Served with  the crunchiest coleslaw ever, fresh green and purple cabbage sliced paper-thin,  their creamy house slaw dressing drizzled on top, self-toss at the table,  making their coleslaw the best  around these parts.  And who was I to deny such a hankering,  I who could so easily envision some of their  sweet potato wedges,  deeply orange, sprinkled lightly with sugar, an appetizing  aroma  wafting up from a  smidgen of cinnamon  ?    Yep, let’s do it.

The sea and seafood and the visitors who come for  same are  the lifeblood of Wachapreague, thus the little marine-oriented businesses you pass driving in on Main Street– the  bait and tackle shops, a detached garage converted to a colorful ocean-going kayak  shop,  a couple of  bed and breakfasts,  a quaint little general store, decorative decoys painstakingly handcarved. Down the little side streets,  a mixture of Victorian homes and traditional style cottages,  some for sale.  And along the shoreline facing Atlantic Avenue,  a busy marine railway, a large public boat ramp, a big private marina,  the smaller Town marina,  the weathered cedar-sided Coast Guard station and VIMS, the renown Virginia Institute of Marine Science,  which has pioneered so many of the state-of- the- art  clam and oyster aquaculture practices used not just in Virginia but nationwide.

And of course, smack-dab on  the inlet’s shores stands the  Island House Restaurant, tall and proud, sporting weathered cedar shingle siding, ready to delight the senses.  And not just taste but sight, smell and feel.  An al fresco lunch on one of  its multi-level waterfront decks yields not just a delicious meal but a chance to bask in the sun, soft and tangy sea breezes tickling across the skin,  fish jumping and  geese honking as they head down the inlet, boats passing to and fro as they return to or launch from the boat ramp,  shorebirds soaring and calling nearby, the  faint glitter of sand on Cedar Island far away.   We especially love the sight of  boats in the distance as they travel the narrow channel which winds through the great swaths of deep green marshland,  creating the optical illusion that  they are not really floating in water but  instead actually glide  along on the  grass itself.  This is  because, as you gaze towards the horizon, you can no longer see the blue inlet waters, only the great salt meadows of  fertile  green marsh grasses stretching on and on and on,  a truly beautiful sight, and as   boats  head back in from the Ocean they seem to be just sliding across the grass, white on green,  towards  port.  But enough about fish and geese,  boats and marshgrass,  lunch was served,  time to savor those crabcakes and sweet potato wedges.

(Posted by Marlene Cree, licensed Virginia agent with Blue Heron Realty Co., 7134  Wilsonia Neck Dr., Machipongo, VA)