Archive for the ‘Climate and Weather’ Category

TO SPRINT OR NOT TO SPRINT ? THAT WAS THE QUESTION AT THE 2018 “FEBRUARY FREEZE” IN CAPE CHARLES, VIRGINIA

Friday, March 16th, 2018

DSC_8855The sky was sunny, the air was balmy, the water was a beautiful blue. But the Bay temp was a body- numbing 47 degrees as dozens of excited, derring do “Dipper” teams and individuals got ready to brave the icy Chesapeake waters to raise money for the Eastern Shore chapter of Habitat for Humanity. This year’s event was Habitat’s 22nd Annual “February Freeze” benefit at the Cape Charles beach and it was especially exciting because of the tide, which was exceptionally low, exposing a huge tidal flat along the shoreline. Ordinarily one would think this would be quite beneficial. But, as fate would have it, the tide was rising and during the long run out to the deeper water, about a thousand participating toes were no doubt turning multiple shades of blue as the Dippers traversed ice cold sand covered by several inches of frigid water to get to the deep water beyond. Some sauntered along bravely while others raced headlong into the Bay, figuring that the better part of valor was zip in, zip out ! 3 memebers of the Cape Charles Coast Guard Auxiliary were on site in case of emergency, 1 wading out to what would likely be the furthest distance point for a swimmer, just in case.

On hand to lead the charge against the elements were two Celebrity Dippers, Robbie Marsh, Director of the Eastern ShoreDSC_8952 Chamber of Commerce, breezy in a hilarious green hat with bulging eyeballs, and Evelyn Shotwell, Director of the Chincoteague Chamber, both carrying scepters fashioned from pink swim noodles ! They were terrific sports- – the first in and, shivering only slightly, just about the last out ! An enthusiastic crowd was on hand to cheer the Dippers onward to February Freeze glory, with towels and a hand-warming fire barrel at the ready as they returned, soaking wet, to the beach. Volunteers served hot chocolate by the Gazebo and each Dipper who raised at least $35 was treated to a hot lunch. So it was a beautiful, sunny day for those helping to raise money for a tremendous organization which assists in building safe housing all over the Shore for those in need. Hats off to Habitat, it does great work !

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THE 2018 EASTERN SHORE LUNAR ECLIPSE & THE “SUPER BLUE BLOOD MOON”

Friday, February 2nd, 2018

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For the first time in about 150 years, a lunar eclipse occurred on the exact same date as a “super blue blood moon.” Unfortunately, Mother Nature blew in a blanket of thick, thick clouds which obscured the horizon at both moonrise on the evening of January 30th and at moon set on the morning of the 31st, preventing folks on the lower Eastern Shore from seeing the vibrant moon colors that would have otherwise been visible and gorgeous. But were able to catch some good photos after the moon rose fairly high in the sky, brightly shining, huge, gleaming pearly white over Oyster, the Cape Charles water tower, the Harbor and the Hump. And in the icy chill at dawn on the morning of the 31st, it was simply beautiful over the Cape Charles beach and the LOVE sign as slowly it sank westward. But sadly, just as its color would have morphed red as it approached the horizon, the moon completely disappeared behind a thick cloud bank, concealing the actual eclipse and the super blood moon ! Goodnight Moon ! Good morning Sun !

 

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SHINE ON, SHINE ON, SUPER MOON SO WAY UP HIGH… OVER VIRGINIA’S EASTERN SHORE ! AND IT DID ! SUPER MOON RISE/SET JANUARY 2nd/3rd, 2018

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

DSC_8077Not only did the Super Moon shine brightly on the night of January 2nd, there is still a second 2018 Super Moon coming on January 31st. The 2018 calendar year boasted 2 Super Moons- – the January 2nd and the upcoming January 31st, a moon which will not only be a Super Moon, where the moon is closest in its orbit to Earth, but also a “Blue Moon”, a second full moon falling within a given calendar month. Chronicling the January 2nd event from the harbor’s viewing stand overlooking Parting Creek in Willis Wharf sounded like fun. Moon rise was indicated for 5:56 pm, more than an hour past sunset so full darkness which unfortunately, for me, increases the difficulty of getting good photo takes which include surrounding landscape. Even more unfortunately, it was well after 6 when we rolled up, the moon already above the horizon, disappointing, because seeing the moon as it just peeks over is always special. And it was really cold, dare we say Super Cold – – but the night was crystal clear, the stars were like brilliant twinkling diamonds flung across the sky and the moon glowed a deep, lovely gold, an incredible sight as it began its journey westward. Only a few boats were tied up in the marina, the harbor’s street lights creating a rather erie feel, water sluggish, new ice everywhere, little chunks and ice pans undulating around the empty boats, the super-bright Super Moon above, all the while my shutter finger screaming Frostbite Alert ! Frostbite Alert !

Up early on January 3rd, hoping for some good photos of Super Moon Set on my way to an appointment across the Bay. By the crack of dawn, as the moon was rapidly DSC_8067cruising West and the sun was rising slowly in the East, I was heading down Bayside Road. Although it was barely 6 am, an early gathering of Franktown farmers was already out in the field, pick-up taillights glowing red, bright spotlights illuminating a big piece of machinery, the Moon now pearly white and huge overhead, moonbeams falling softly on wide fields and clattering diesel motors below. Farming by moonlight, that’s dedication! Moon Set was indicated for 7:31 am on the 3rd but an early appointment in Virginia Beach kept exploration for a variety of moon-set photo locations to a minimum. Luckily, still bright and still Super, the moon yielded some interesting shots near The Colony, the Oyster Farm Marina and the Outlook pull-off on the Bridge. So, Super Moon 2018 # 1 over, looking forward to Super Moon # 2/Blue Moon on the 31st ! And then – – that’s it until January 21, 2019.

 

 

 

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THE SILVERY BEAMS OF THE 2017 SUPER MOON ON THE EASTERN SHORE OF VIRGINIA

Tuesday, December 5th, 2017

DSC_7212What appears brighter and bigger and might only appear but once a year ? A Super Moon ! And during the December 3rd the 2017 Super Moon, our moon orbited to its closest distance to earth for this entire year, making this silvery orb appear much brighter and larger than a normal full moon. Here are a few Eastern Shore Virginia Super Moon shots we took that night. From the vivid pink moonrise as it climbed above the horizon in Oyster, VA  to its pearly white aspect and glittering beams high in the sky above Cape Charles, it really was a beautiful sight !  I think Shakespeare said it best – – “How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank ! Here we will sit and let the sounds of music creep in our ears. Soft stillness and the night become the touches of sweet harmony. “

By the way, soon, another Skywatchers delight ! A Blue Moon is coming – – In just a few weeks, the two Super Moons of 2018 will both take place in January, on the 2nd and 31st. The Moon on the 31st will be a “Blue Moon” as it is the second full moon in a calendar month. So, once in a blue moon … get ready to “croon love’s tune” to your honey by the light of these two silvery Super Moons !

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Ready, Set, Go— Now Is The Perfect Time To Lock In Your Week At A Cape Charles VA Vacation Rental House

Friday, March 21st, 2014

SnowflakeIt probably seems a bit counter-intuitive to be planning reservations for a warm, sunny summer vacation in the midst of all this cold, snowy weather which seems like it has been making East Coast life miserable for eons.   Or maybe not.  Definitely planning can take the mind to a better place, sort of like warming one’s hand on a hot cup of cocoa on a cold winter afternoon brings a smile to the face, it just feels good. When I was a child, my mother used to pull out her seed catalogues on a wintry Sunday afternoons and work on her garden plan. Not that she had such a huge garden but she had it organized down to a T– what needed to be rotated to a new spot, what plants complimented the other, where to stick insect repelling marigolds, she planned it all in detail, usually changing her mind numerous times before she was satisfied.  But it seemed to me that she enjoyed working on her garden project most on a really cold, miserable day– and in Ohio, unlike on the Eastern Shore,  there are a whole lot of really cold, snowy, icy winter days !  Just like back to the future, she was mentally transported  from winter’s wind and ice to the cool  days of Spring, outdoors in the sun, in her garden.

Simply Relaxing The Shore WayBut, I digress, my point being that planning one’s vacation is a task  that offers a lot of fun in the execution.  Just deciding where to go is key and offers lots of opportunities for on-line exploration of  lots of great places– for instance, not that I’m biased of course, the Eastern Shore of Virginia.   Naturally a lot depends on the type of vacation one is looking for.  If its  bright lights and  loud music, then the Eastern Shore isn’t the place. But if you’re looking for a quaint, restful area with lots to do,  the Shore is a great place to enjoy a unique coastal vacation experience.  Not only can you enjoy our pristine natural beauty, there is nearly an endless list of fun things to do, from “A” for artists galleries to “Z” for zesty clam dip.

Savor sunset strolls on our uncrowded beaches, feel the exhilaration of  kayaking our to our string of off-shore Barrier Islands. Charter a boat for a deep-sea fishing expedition.  For golfers, the Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus Signature courses which front along the Chesapeake Bay in Cape Charles offer opportunities to challenge your game on some of the most beautiful waterfront courses on the entire East Coast.  Or check out our museums and art galleries, treasure hunt on the beach or in one of our antique shops.  Get wet swimming, clamming or crabbing.  Explore our quaint little towns, visit a vineyard and winery, check out our Wildlife Refuges or State Park.   Or just chill out on the porch, gentle breezes blowing, book in hand, letting  the stresses of everyday life disappear.  And at Blue Heron,  we call this “Simply Relaxing The Shore Way.”

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Sunset with Bikes and people on deck 6a Surfer golf cart Seagull close resized

Edwards 002This year the Blue Heron Realty Co. vacation rental department is introducing a new vacation rental home, “Seashell Cottage“,  located   just a quarter block off the soft sand beach in the little Victorian town of Cape Charles, VA.   Seashell Cottage offers 4 bedrooms, 2 and a half baths plus a 3 rd floor loft overlooking the Chesapeake Bay.  Its open floor plan, comfortable furniture and close proximity to the beach make this a great vacation home.  And the wrap-around porch is perfect for outdoor dining and soaking up the dazzling sunsets.  Check it out at www.blueheronva.com, click on the Vacation Rental section under “Listings”  and  give us a call at 757-678-5277 to reserve your vacation week at one of our great vacation rental beach homes.  From a cozy in-town cottage to a beach home on acreage in the country,  the Blue Heron Realty Co. vacation rental agents can help you select the best home for your needs and budget.

 

A Glorious New Year’s Day 2014 Trip From Eastern Shore Virginia To Williamsburg, VA’s Historic District

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

CBBTBright, sunny, beautiful from dawn till dusk, New Year’s Day 2014 was simply lovely.  We had planned early on to ring in New Year’s Day in Williamsburg and the weather could not have been more co-operative.  One of the  delights of a trip to the historic area of Colonial Williamsburg in December are the beautiful holiday decorations– the door of each home in the restored area is adored with a unique, handmade wreath.  And since they are all crafted by the residents, no wreath is duplicated.  For about the last ten years we have made an annual pilgrimage on New Year’s Day to enjoy a guilt-free buffet brunch at one of the hotels because afterwards we take a brisk walk through the restored area to work off all those calories !   ( An excellent excuse for sampling several deserts …..)  And the trip from the Eastern Shore of Virginia to Williamsburg is so easy,  a glide over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, clear blue waters below,  chop-chop-chop up I-64 E , exit onto Colonial Parkway and, insto-presto, in less than 2 hours it’s napkin in lap, fork in hand, ready to enjoy a luscious lunch.

 

Williamsburg InnLunch this year was an interesting buffet at the always special Williamsburg Inn– in addition to  Southern regional dishes like oyster pie,   seafood fritatta and minced Smithfield ham salad,  a surprisingly excellent offering was a black-eyed pea bisque.  For those not familiar,  it is a Southern tradition that on New Year’s Day, one must eat black-eyed peas — they are supposed to bring good luck for the coming year.  I don’t really enjoy them and the idea of black-eyed pea bisque was initially not appealing whatever. But Hubby tried some, wow, said he, this bisque is really excellent, you really should try it.   So I did…. once, twice and three times a charm !  Couldn’t believe it, that’s how delicious it was, best darn thing on the menu, I shall remember it aways.  Well, maybe not always but at least until next year when I hope they will serve it again !  The desserts were fun, especially the crepe’ station, rich, thin crepe’s filled with Bananas Foster, topped with a little scoop of fabulous ice cream and sliced fresh strawberries, very, very yummy indeed.

Williamsburg Historic area shop 244The weather was  delightful,  a little warmer than usual, about 55 degrees,  so when we started our walk  Duke of Gloucester Street was teeming with folks from all over, tourists wearing their badge passes,  locals,  students from the College of William and Mary which is located just a few blocks away, everyone quite  relaxed, just enjoying the afternoon, strolling down this historic street.  If you love dogs, Gloucester Street is also a “meet and greet” heaven for dogs of all kinds and sizes, as owners leisurely traipse down the street behind their pooches.  This year was an especially great year for “people walking dog”  watching– a Bernese Mountain dog, Labradoodle, Great Pyrenees, Scottie, Doxie, Boxer, you name it, they were enthusiastically escorting their owners down this four hundred year old street where individuals  like  George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, both alumni of William and Mary, probably walked their dogs too.   Interestingly, you almost never see aggressive canine behavior there, just doggie curiosity and tail wagging which makes the whole “man’s best friend” scene lots of fun. And to add additional interest to this convivial scene, the  period style carriages were out in force, each drawn by two gorgeous, well-cared for horses, stepping high, coats gleaming in the afternoon sunlight, liveried driver seated high above.  The carriages are apparently hand- manufactured in Austria according to one of the drivers but the wheels themselves are actually handmade at the wheelwright shop right in the Williamsburg Historic Area. Anyway, four or five horse-drawn carriages traveling down the street is quite a sight.

Williamsburg Christmas Decorations 241 This year’s batch of wreaths and swags was interesting as always.  Nearly every home and shop in the Restored Area is decorated each holiday season with a wreath or swag made entirely of materials which would have been available to residents of  the 18th century, basically constructed from fresh greenery pine, fraiser, boxwood, holly, magnolia and decorated with a myriad of dried different flowers, seeds and fruits, no artificial decorations allowed.  To up the ante’ a bit for residents, 1st, 2nd. and 3rd place blue ribbons are awarded and given the obvious amount of  effort many wreaths show, I’m guessing there is a bit of friendly competition every year to win a ribbon.  The effect is so pleasing that every year literally thousands of visitors come each year over the holidays to see the decorations and enjoy a holiday meal in one of the period taverns.  Each Tavern is  gaily decorated for the season, softly lighted by candles with costumed servers offering food authentic to the period– one of the most famous is the King’s Arms Tavern which is famous for its peanut soup,  Game Pye as well as an unusual veggie offering, a rich creamed celery with a hint of nutmeg,  which doesn’t sound that great but which was quite delicious.   There is always something new to see or try in Williamsburg and a visit there is  a great way to kick off the New Year.

 

From The Entire Crew At Blue Heron Realty Co., Our Wishes For A Happy Holiday Season And A Great New Year !

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

Well, it’s that time  of year again,  putting up the outdoor lights, decorating the big cedar tree in the front yard,  getting  a wreath properly hung on the door so that it isn’t that  tiny bit crooked, and,  my special favorite, stringing long loops of  colorful holiday lights along the full length of our back deck, such a cheery sight as dusk falls.  And all the usual outdoor holiday decor tasks  are made so much easier here on the Eastern Shore of Virginia because of our mild but definite 4 season climate. ( The delights of  the  Shore’s fabulous climate  were brought into sharp relief today by a call from an employee who had made what was to have been just a quick trip to Houlton, Maine, expecting to be back for work as scheduled on yesterday.  Instead, she got trapped by a major winter storm with a projected duration of at least 2 days, 8-12 inches of snow and lots of ice accumulation expected, so she missed  work  because it was too dangerous to drive.  You just wouldn’t  believe it, said she, ice pellets are falling fast and furiously, snow drifts are about a gazillion feet high, I’m so ready to get back to the Shore !  )  So,  counting my blessings as I puttered out on the deck yesterday afternoon, dressed in a light windbreaker, potting up pansies into  3 beautiful flower pots  I  got as  gifts for a special friend,  sky blue, sun shining, slight breeze blowing off the water, nary a snowflake in sight, no black ice, no 30 car pile-ups…..  I think next year I should just print t-shirts that say:  “Life is good ….on Virginia’s Eastern Shore“.

On a more serious note, this is the time of year when friends and family  are close in mind and heart, and, if we are lucky, in body too.  Trivial and petty are hopefully cast aside,  leaving more space for thinking  not just of family and friends but especially about helping those less fortunate.  By nature, I am an optimist and 13 is my lucky number–  but it does seem that 2013  has brought  definite economic improvement here on the Eastern Shore and nationwide.  For this, at Blue Heron Realty Co.,  we are truly grateful.  And we would especially like to thank our clients and customers, all the many folks who have purchased or listed property through our firm.  Please know that we very much appreciate your business and really value your confidence in us.

And to the readers of this little blog about life and real estate on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, we hope you found some of the information you were looking for and had some fun too, learning about our slender peninsula bordered by the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.  Happily,  we had our 15 minutes of fame and celebrity this year as the Home and Garden Network (HGTV) premiered  a “beachfront house hunter” episode earlier this month about the Eastern Shore of Virginia  and one of its most charming little historic towns, Cape Charles, VA  and, ta-da, featured Eva Noonan, sales agent in Blue Heron’s Cape Charles office and her buyers, the Outlands.  I loved watching the HGTV crew film the show over 4 days, it was such a fun and a unique experience, keep an eye out for  repeat showings of our episode.  And I’m hoping in 2014 you will keep reading our little blog to learn more about the amazing quality of life and the outstanding real estate opportunities on the Eastern Shore to purchase beachfront properties, homes with backyard boat docks, Bay Creek Golf Resort listings,  historic homes as well as  town and country homes  listed for sale by Blue Heron Realty Co. in the Chesapeake Bay area   

And so, from Lemoin, Marlene, Montaigne, Mike, Gerry, Heather, Kay, Lisa and Brandi in Blue Heron’s  Machipongo, VA  main office and from Dave, Eva, Jennifer, Luisa, Bonnie and Cynthia in Blue Heron’s Cape Charles, VA branch office,  thanks once again for your continued support, we really appreciate it.  Best wishes to you and yours from the entire Blue Heron crew for a wonderful holiday season and a happy, healthy and prosperous  2014.      ( Posted by Marlene Cree, licensed agent with Blue Heron Realty Co., 7134 Wilsonia Neck Dr., Machipongo, VA. )

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“Fire”, A Female Cooper’s Hawk, Was The Hit Of The 21st Annual Eastern Shore of Virgina Birding & Wildlife Festival

Monday, November 25th, 2013
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Eastern Shore Virginia bird migration flyway

Every year during the first week of October, thousands of bird lovers gather on the Eastern Shore of Virginia for the annual Birding Festival.  Hosted by the Eastern Shore of Virginia Festivals, Inc, a local non-profit, we recently celebrated the 21st annual Birding and Wildlife Festival.  Coinciding each year with the annual fall bird migrations,  the Festival is a celebration of the amazing variety and quantity of bird life found here on Virginia’s  Eastern Shore, especially at the Shore’s beautiful Southern Tip.  Since the land mass of the DelMarVa  (Delaware, Maryland, Virginia) peninsula, of which the Virginia portion is the southern terminus, is widest at the northern section and narrows gradually as one moves south,  it acts almost like a funnel.  The bountiful tip of  Virginia’s Eastern Shore,  just south of Cape Charles, VA where the land ends as the  Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay converge,  is a bird-friendly area offering lots of food, water and protective vegetation becomes the natural  “layover”  point for  millions of migrating feathered friends as they travel south along the Atlantic Flyway. 

Eastern Shore Virginia Barrier Island chain

Eastern Shore Barrier Island chain, part of the Virginia Coast Reserve

So what better location to hold a Festival to see and learn about a whole variety of birds than the special place where they stop to rest and feed before beginning a  journey over open waters ?   Having spent a summer nesting and parenting,  munching on gourmet goodies like seeds,worms and insects, just generally loafing around and yuking it up in the temperate climate of the East Coast of North America, the Birding Festival takes place during the peak migration period.  Migration is dangerous, a  journey from which  is estimated that nearly half  will not survive to return to breed in the Spring because of  the  predators encountered en route and the hazards of  a long, energy-demanding flight over  lengthy stretches of open waters.  Since the Chesapeake Bay is a large physical barrier,  it is especially important that natural habitat offering plentiful food and cover be available at the tip of the Shore to provide for refueling and protection from predators as the birds  rest for a day or two before  departing on the next leg of their journey.  This makes it especially important on the Eastern Shore for individual landowners and conservation groups to make sure that the trees, shrubs and grasses which  provide the critical seeds and berries needed by the birds are maintained . Towards this end, several large farm parcels  located in this very critical rest corridor have been purchased by The Nature Conservancy for the express purpose of trying to maintain vegetative cover for bird habitat. And The Nature Conservancy has also been very active in preserving other critical  bird life areas on the Eastern Shore including  acquisition of  the famed “Virginia Coast Reserve“, the off-shore Virginia Barrier Islands chain, now designated as a United Nations Biosphere,  purchased by the Conservancy to protect them from development and to maintain crucial wildlife habitat.

Kids petting a skunk at eastern Shore VA birding festival

Petting A De-perfumed Skunk At The Eastern Shore Virginia Birding Festival

Fire, A Harris Hawk, Munching On A Her Raw Chicken Reward

Fire, A Trained Harris Hawk, Munches On Her Reward For A Demonstration Well Performed

The Festival includes a central Exhibitor’s Hall in Cape Charles, a forum for conservation groups and private firms to provide information on their programs. Once again the exhibits by the Virginia Living Museum were a big hit, especially the de-perfumed skunk which the kids had great fun petting.  But some of  the really fun stuff  involved a few special programs and the amazing variety of  unique field trips.  Which brings us to the beautiful  Harris Hawk  named Fire.  She is the big star of  an amazing show featuring  various raptors  in flight, called, duh, the Flight of the Raptor.  Started in 1995 by Master Falconer Ray Pena,  this fascinating demonstration includes numerous hawks and peregrine falcons who have been trained to catch a lure in mid-air and bring it to ground,  just as they would in the wild.  Apparently for nearly four thousand years  raptors have been trained by man to help  hunt for food, especially rabbit and pheasant.  During the show, Fire and other hawks are released and freely fly to any nearby perch— in Fire’s case,  to the top of a Bay Coast Railroad locomotive.   The falconer then twirls a feathered or fur lure in circles over his head, the hawk circles overhead and then dives for the lure, bringing  it dramatically to ground.  Ray gets the hawk to release the prey to him and rewards it with a bit of raw chicken,  Fire’s favorite treat. ( By the way, hawks eat everything from their catches —  feathers,  fur, bones, the whole nine yards, which help satisfy the mineral requirements in their diets. )  The substantial crowd which had gathered for this demonstration was pretty amazed to see how, when these hawks are released from their perches, they fly off to a nearby tree or whatever, watch for the lure, dive for it and then let the falconer take it away from them.   

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Banding songbirds at Kiptopeake State Park

Bird Banding At Kiptopeake State Park During The 2013 Eastern Shore VA Birding Festival

Aerial view of Oyster VA harbor

Aerial View of the Oyster, VA Harbor, Departure Location For Several Birding Festival Boat Tours

All kinds of interesting field trips are available for attendee  participation — ranging from bird banding demos, hikes,  boat tours and workshops, there is something for everybody.   The bird banding is fascinating and the  hikes are a big favorite, especially the  Eyre Hall Hike over 600 acres of diverse habitat along Cherrystone Creek.  Here hikers will see mature forests, freshwater marshes and ponds, open saltwater beaches and tidal flats as well as open farm fields.  Bird watchers are invited by the owner to tour the famous gardens associated with Eyre Hall’s  circa 1760 home.  The  Owl Prowl Sounds of the Night outings at the Virginia National Wildlife Refuge and the Kiptopeake State Park are also lots of fun and  good opportunities to experience nocturnal wildlife activity.  Captain Buddy Vaughan’s Cobb Bay Boat Excursion leaving out of  Oyster village harbor is an exciting way to see a barrier island beach and view numerous shorebirds including oystercatchers, whimbrels, sandpipers and terns. For attendees hoping to see clapper rails saltmarsh sparrows and maybe even a Delmarva fox squirrel, Capt. Rick Kellam’s Broadwater Bay Ecotours out of Willis Wharf  offered a boat tour of the pristine Machipongo River, a seaside saltwater inlet from the Atlantic Ocean.  Popular workshops included the Butterfly Walk and the Dragonfly Workshop &  Field Trip.  Another interesting boat trip, sponsored by the Virginia Dept. of Environmental Quality, was the Sea Grasses and Oyster Reefs Boat Trip.  Also departing out of  Oyster village, this trip traveled to the nearby sites of the US’s largest and most comprehensive  aquatic grass restoration project,  a $6,000,000 investment by Virginia Coastal Zone Management to support shellfish farming and ecotourism.  Something for everyone is the promise of  each Birding Festival and it truly delivers on that promise. 

 

 

 

 

Living Life On The Water On The Eastern Shore Of Virginia

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

In my efforts to let folks who are considering buying property on the Eastern Shore of  Virginia know what  living  here  would be like,  I sometimes think I write too much about the many “Happenings”  and the wide variety in  the myriad of  things to do here  and not enough about the simple pleasures of  daily life at home here on the Shore. We  are very lucky to live  on a beautiful waterfront parcel near  the town of Nassawadox, VA, named for one of the Shore’s  Native American tribes, long since vanished.  And one of my cherished treats on beautiful days when I won’t be going into the office is to have my morning coffee out on our screened porch or the adjacent back deck, both overlooking the clear blue waters of  a wide, pristine saltwater inlet from the Chesapeake Bay. ( On days when I’m going into the office I don’t even try to relax outside, instead I start getting geared up for another long day of  everything but the kitchen sink.)

Bradford Pear tree in our backyard

Our Bird Sheltering, Shade Producing Bradford Pear Tree Standing Proudly Between The House And The Woods

This morning, sitting on the porch very early, coffee mug in hand, the sun coming up over the tops of the trees in the orchard and just beginning to illuminate the now  huge Bradford Pears  in the backyard,  the thought occurred to me that it probably is hard to truly understand how relaxing and peaceful it really is to live on the water, to be able to just  sit and gaze at the ripples along the channel, listening to the sounds of Nature, watching the birds get a start on the day.  ( We have a number of bird feeders in both the back yard where we can enjoy them from the porch and also in the front yard, hanging from a magnolia tree,  easily viewed from what I lovingly call ” the library” but which is  a very large south-facing room with an entire wall of windows overlooking the expanse of front yard lawn and flower beds.  Over-stuffed with not only two walls of book shelves,  crammed with a lifetime collection of  books, but also two desks with adjustable office chairs, two comfy Lazy Boy loungers, a stereo system plus a billion and counting compilation of cd’s & dvd’s.  It’s a veritable paradise for two,  filled with  things we love.)  As I look out now into the backyard, a  pair of cardinals and a couple of fat  doves are pecking at seeds on the ground which have dropped out of  the feeder, two tiny yellow finches are flitting between the feeder and the pear tree, trying to eat and keep safe too,  and a pesky squirrel is trying to decide what to do, munch off what’s fallen on the ground from the feeder or attempt to shinny up the pole to get to the serious goodies !  Out on the inlet, an early morning waterman checking his crab pots has startled a large blue heron which gives a loud squawk-squawk-squawk as it skims over the water, searching  for a more promising breakfast venue further down the  shoreline.

View of the water from our deck

Views Of The Water From Our Deck

When we first bought this house, there were two small Bradford  Pear trees that the original owner had planted about 150 feet apart in the middle of  the large expanse of lawn between the house and the woodline along the water.  It seemed to me that the trees marred the view of the water from the porch and deck  and I wanted to have them cut down but my husband loved them and convinced me to wait a year to see if I still wanted to have them removed.  Well, that was quite a few years ago and the Bradfords are still there,  bigger and taller now than most Bradfords  ever normally grow.  But what I came  to realize over the course of that very first year was that those trees don’t interfer with the view, they are a part of the view.  Miss Charlotte, our first Newfie,  loved to sit under the one to the left of the porch, relaxing in the shade of  its branches,  scanning the woods along the water for signs of rabbits or squirrels, maybe even a deer,  ready to instantly  jump up and futilely chase.  Now she is resting forever  in the shade of that tree, her big floppy stuffed bunny buried with her for company.  Songbirds adore that tree because the large bird feeder hanging from a metal staff just outside the dripline  is so easy to reach from the safety of its leafy branches, they establish a sort of rhythm, eat for a few seconds, fly  into the tree and look around, then back to the  feeder, a careful ritual, repeated over and over by all sorts of sweet, tiny birds, singing  songs we love.  And although I know hawks have to eat too, when I see a soaring redtail  land in a high branch of a big oak or  a tall pine in the woods, I love knowing that the sweet little birds who come to our feeders are safely hidden among those Bradford leaves, the trees being too close to the house for hawks to comfortably venture near. I often think how much we would have missed had those trees been removed.  Thanks Hubby,  you were  so absolutely right.

View from screened  porch

Cozy & Comfy– From A Cup Of Early Morning Coffee To A Glass Of Wine At Sunset, Our Screened Porch Is About My Favorite Place To Be

As I finish this post, after a coffee refill, the breeze is picking up, gently moving the  kitetails of the two wind chimes positioned on opposite ends of the deck, creating gentle music.  I love wind chimes and since  being on the water offers  breezes all season long,  our deck is ideal chime territory. It’s also home to a myriad of flower pots filled with bloomers of all kinds, this year mostly in  shades of lavender and pinks, including a gorgeous deep pink mandevilla,  although the big pot of red geraniums may be the most eye-catching.  Since we’ll be here  all day today, I’ll serve lunch out on the screened porch, on our little glass-topped rattan table for four.  I’m thinking cold roast chicken from last night, sliced thinly for sandwiches, bread and butter pickles,  maybe a glass of well  chilled Riesling,  a tiny piece of Kate’s Kupboard coconut pound cake, just  a sliver to satisfy the sweet tooth.  After lunch, maybe an hour or two with Dan Brown’s new book, Inferno, read stretched out in a big, comfy porch chair, totally relaxed, totally into Home Sweet Home on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, the house, the water, the birds, the butterflies, the  Newfies and squirrels still carefully eyeing each other, for today life is good.

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

 

Attending Cherry Blossom Festival 2013- In Virginia Beach VA

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013
View of the two spans of the 17 mile long Chesapeake Bay Bridge & Tunnel connecting the Virginia Eastern SDhore to the Virginia mainland.

The Beautiful Chesapeake Bay Bridge Seen From Fisherman’s Island area

Early April is the time of year when we usually look forward to going to the Cherry Blossom Festival in  Washington DC.   Unfortunately, this year we were not  able to go.  About three weeks ago, when I was bemoaning to a friend that scheduling conflicts were going to prevent us from going  to DC,  she mentioned that  nearby Virginia Beach, VA  also has a Cherry Blossom Festival,  why not check it out ?   There won’t be the fabulous blooms along the Tidal Basin, the National Mall or  Parkway Drive said she,  but it might still be interesting and fun.  I took her advice and after some research  found to my surprise that 2013 marked the Virginia Beach 9th  Annual  Cherry Blossom Festival.  Who knew ?  Anyway, that  Saturday  dawned bright and sunny, most welcome after all the spring rain we’ve had this year, a little breezy but expected to be near 60 degrees, a very pleasant day.   So after lunch we decided to go for it,  jumped in the car, zipped over  the Chesapeake  Bay Bridge  Tunnel, waves sparkling in the  afternoon sun,  making a bee line for Redwing Park , about an hour’s drive from our house, planning to get there in time for most of the program,  including the Taiko ensemble’s  performance. (Another little plug for life on the Eastern Shore of Virginia is how close we are to the Hampton Roads area which is the 32nd largest metro area in the US.  It’s like having your cake and eating it too– enjoy  a low-key, relaxed rural feel here on the Shore but be able to access virtually every known metropolitan amenity in less than an hour in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, etc.  Love it, love it, love it ! )

Taiko drums at Cherry Blossom Festival

Taiko Drums At The Virginia Beach Cherry Blossom Festival

I was especially looking forward to the Japanese drums,  called Taiko, which are  really amazing, nothing like what we are used to as drums in a regular  band. A  Taiko drumming performance  is something really special.  Construction of these drums dates  back to feudal times, many  are very large,  made from beautifully grained wood, highly polished, often about the size of barrels, most actually  sit horizontally  and can be played  simultaneously by two drummers, one on each end.  The rhythms are hypnotic, with point and counterpoint, played in long mesmerizing “songs”   Historically,  these drums were often  used on the battlefield because  their loud “voices”  could communicate over long distances.  Taiko were also frequently  used in religious ceremonies in Buddhist and Shinto temples which  had really fabulous drums, usually  fashioned  from trees with  huge diameters, resulting in amazing  drums with faces 10 to 12 feet across. Drums like this could not  be easily moved and were played only by men who received special permission from the monks.  The first time I ever saw a Taiko performance was about a hundred years ago, in the Japanese Pavillion at EPCOT.  I was just transfixed by  the “song”  of the drums and their  mesmerizing beat– in fact, I went around  for days with the beat from one particular  “song”  replaying over and over  in my head.  Taiko drumming is quite demanding, not only because of  the physical strength needed to control the depth of sound and the tempo changes, but also for the sheer physical endurance required.   Certainly I wasn’t expecting professional quality taiko from the Virginia Beach  group,  called Soka Tiako, but they sounded great and  looked quite colorful in their  costumes, garnering lots of applause when their number was completed.

Dancing the flower dance at the Festival

Flower Dance At Cherry Blossom Festival

Lots  of other terrific performances of traditional Japanese music and dance in addition to the Taiko were offered all afternoon.  Among the most interesting was a group from Old Dominion University who played the koto, a zither type  instrument about six feet long, with 13 strings,  which creates the high pitched  sound I most associate with Japanese music.  The koto looks incredibly difficult to master  and in speaking to one of the performers just  before the show, I  was assured that  it is indeed difficult to master,  even more so outdoors  which involves a knack for playing while  breezes ruffle one’s music sheets.  The performers all wore traditional garb, kimono with obi,  gorgeous and colorful.   In fact, quite a few folks in the audience, both men and women, wore traditional garb which gave the whole event a  very authentic feel. One of  my other favorite performances was by the Virginia Beach Okinawa Sanshin-Kai band which played traditional three string lutes and featured a very sweet, almost ballet-like  dance by a mother and her young  daughter, both wearing beautiful kimono and elaborate “flower”  hats symbolizing the first blooms of Spring.

DSC_0881Parasols for saleJapanese character writing

DSC_0754DSC_0802For  martial arts fans, various groups from around the city offered  martial arts demonstrations throughout the afternoon including karate, judo and some a very proficient  kobudo with impressive moves with the traditional swords.  I personally am not into any of that but  a lot of applause went their way from folks who are.  Shopping is more my style and I enjoyed seeing some of the little gift items for sale in the tent area. The most popular item seemed to be a selection of colorful parasols, attracting gals and  girls alike.   In addition, the origami  and calligraphy demonstrations were fun,  lots of folks crowding around  to get their names written in Japanese  by some volunteers who were amused as they tried to write  names like Henrietta and Martha in characters.  A local rescue group for Akita’s was on hand with two of their charges, a handsome grey and a placid sand colored dog–I had just recently seen the Richard Gere film “ Akita”  (  based on a true story)  and we all agreed that it was a real tear jerker  of a movie. Who can even imagine a  depth of  loyalty that would compel a dog to wait outside a train station each night for 9 years, waiting for his owner who was long dead ?  Wow !

Tori gate at RedWing Park in Virginia Beach

Tori Gate in Miyazaki Garden at Redwing Park

Reflecting pool with cherry blossoms

Reflecting Pool At Miyazaki Garden

Apparently part of the impetus for the planting of  the lovely cherry trees at Redwing Park, as well as for the creation of the Festival itself, was that about 14 years ago Virginia Beach established a   “Sister City”  relationship with the city of  Miyazaki , Japan.  This  special relationship resulted in many cross-cultural exchanges and eventually in the city’s construction of  Miyazaki Garden, a  lovely traditional Japanese strolling garden, as well as the planting of hundreds of ornamental Japanese cherry trees in the Park.  The trees  were only in about 25% bloom that Saturday due to the cooler than normal Spring this year,  but that  was enough to see how gorgeous they were going to be this year. Miyazaki  Garden was beautiful  though, an early blooming tree  leaning over a reflecting pond was the site of  much photo taking, prompting me to take pics of  people taking pics.  All in all, as my friend forecast,  it wasn’t the National Mall and it wasn’t the Tidal Basin, but the Virginia Beach, VA  2013 Cherry Blossom Festival was definitely quite nice and we’re glad we went.

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