by Jeff Harper
Growing up in Cheverly, I remember the most special Saturday a kid could wake up to. My dad would wake me at sunrise, load up the old Pontiac with me, a sleepy 10-year old, and some well-worn crabbing equipment and head down to Chesapeake Country for a day full of Bay adventures.
We would usually stop before Deale and buy some chicken necks for the mission ahead. With a little breakfast and some frozen chicken necks thawing in the bucket, we would get back on the road, heading toward no particular destination. Sometimes it was Deale, but most days it was Solomons Island.
The mission was simple: We were going crabbing, and not just for fun. These were going to be taken back to Prince Georges County, steamed and enjoyed by many.
I can still see in my minds eye the old green and white inboard rental boats that we spent so many a Saturday on. Heading out early in the morning was an experience that I will never forget. I would be disappointed many times when I heard my Dad pay the old waterman for a half-day rental, not wanting to have to come back in so soon.
But the crabs were plentiful back then, and it didnt take long to fill a half bushel, or a full bushel if you wanted. They were so plentiful that after three hours of non-stop action, even I was ready to come back in and start a new adventure.
As I got older, I never lost my connection to Chesapeake Country. We used to drive down as teenagers and hunt on the farm owned by the grandmother of a girlfriend on Plum Point Road. Never wanting to miss the chance, I would go with friends after working all night. I can still smell the winter morning air as the sun rose over the frozen Bay. Its an experience that is permanently etched into my mind. Not really serious about hunting, I was looking for the adventure and experience of another exceptional day spent afield.
Into adulthood, my first choice for a home was in Chesapeake Country. But as fate would have it, that chapter of my life was destined to be written in North Carolina, where I settled, starting a family and a business. Now with my seven-days-a-week work schedule behind me, the company is 15 years young, going strong and fixing to see less of the boss.
You see, I am being pulled back to Chesapeake Country.
I never thought I would return, never gave it much thought. But now I am looking to buy a second home in the area to spend as much time here as my business ventures will allow. The recent events have caused a soul-searching, and I plan to slow down some now, sharing the rich history and activities of Chesapeake Country with my family.
We will keep our house in Raleigh as this is where my kids call home. But I know that one day my kids will remember Chesapeake Country as fondly and lovingly as I have. After all, they have half Bay blood running through their veins.
Jeff Harper, president of a human biological products company in Raleigh, is considering early retirement and possibly starting a new business in Chesapeake Country.