Winter had us in its icy grip. Like actors midway through a performance, we needed a change of scene. Like bank robbers with satchels full of cash, we needed a quick getaway. But where to go? The Caribbean would be too expensive; Florida, too far. Three couples in search of just one night away: maybe a little retail therapy, certainly a good glass of wine, a tasty meal, a cozy fire…
Easton is only an hour from Chestertown, just on the other side of Queen Anne’s County. It’s almost our backyard neighbor, but still just far enough to qualify as a getaway destination. There’s a comfortable and accommodating inn right right in the heart of town (The Tidewater) with an attractive weekend package, a restaurant with a gastronomic reputation (Scossa), and an after-dinner spot with a clubby atmosphere, soft leather chairs in front of a romantic fire, and an almost endless selection of single-malt whisky (The Stewart). Done!
Now don’t get me wrong: I love Chestertown and all its friendly people and amenities. It truly is home sweet home. But every once in a while, it’s good to go explore new environs, make friends with the neighbors, and hoist the Kent County flag in another realm. So think of us as explorers, scouts, and ambassadors, not as traitors, renegades, or quislings. In other words, NO COLLUSION!
We arrived in Easton early on Saturday afternoon. The first item on the agenda—or at least the distaff half of the agenda—was the retail therapy component of the trip. That was ok with the guys because we knew of a couple of good stores with more manly merchandise on display. Alas! What we didn’t reckon on was that these shops close at 2 o’clock on Saturdays, presumably so the merchants can pursue manly pursuits of their own. That left the boys out of the retail equation and with only one good option—napping, or as someone put it, “reading with my eyes closed.” Now I’m not averse to an occasional nap—if napping was good enough for Winston Churchill, it’s good enough for me—so I made myself comfortable for an hour while the women browsed and bought. My mates did likewise. When the ladies eventually returned, there was a shopping bag or two, but nothing outrageous. However, it was closing in on 5 o’clock and you know what that means…
We gathered in the lobby in front of the fireplace. No, wait; that’s not quite accurate. Before that, we gathered in our room to share a bottle of champagne which had been chilling in the bathtub. It was only after that bottle was empty that we went down to the lobby and cashed in our tickets for complimentary getaway cocktails. We weren’t the only ones fireside: apparently, great minds do think alike as we met and chatted with other friendly souls on getaways of their own.
Our dinner reservation was for 7:30 which is late by my standards. But the company was excellent and the food at Scossa did not disappoint. For the first time since Chestertown’s beloved Blue Heron closed, I enjoyed sweetbreads. No wait; that’s not accurate. First I downed a pasta bolognese, and then I enjoyed the sweetbreads. Others followed suit, each in his/her own way. There was a bottle of good red wine, a Montepulciano if memory serves me. Maybe two. We even ordered dessert. Wait, that’s not entirely accurate; I think we ordered 3 desserts. My kindergarten teacher would have approved; she always said it was good to share.
After dinner, The Stewart (just around the corner) was ready and waiting for us. There’s nothing better than an after-dinner wee dram on a cold night, unless it’s two wee drams in front of a blazing fire in the pleasant company of good friends. Stories and laughter.
Sunday’s breakfast was copious and good, just what we needed. Plenty of coffee and all manner of good soakage. There were even healthy options available: fresh fruit and yogurt to absolve my biscuits and gravy. We lingered around the table, making plans for our next getaway—maybe in the summer, maybe to the beach. Then it was time to pack up, load the car, and head home.
We crossed the Chester early in the afternoon. Our little town was its usual quiet Sunday self. Although it was yet another cold and grey day, we didn’t mind because as refreshing as our getaway was, our homecoming was even better. Yes; Easton is lovely, but Chestertown is where I belong. And that’s why…
I’ll (always) be right back.
Jamie Kirkpatrick is a writer and photographer with homes in Chestertown and Bethesda. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Washington College Alumni Magazine, and American Cowboy magazine. “A Place to Stand,” a book of photographs and essays about Landon School, was published by the Chester River Press in 2015. A collection of his essays titled “Musing Right Along” was published in May 2017; a second volume of Musings entitled “I’ll Be Right Back” was released in June 2018. Jamie’s website is www.musingjamie.com