Much has been written about what people do in NYC. There is a list outlining how people spend their time in Washington DC. Although Gretel will tell you that nothing ever happens in Itchy Ankle, this is what we do here:
- Bemoan the loss of the Snug Harbor Inn Really, it’s amazing it stayed open so long. Built like a brick outhouse, the hostelry is situated on an uncompromising bend on the Snug Harbor Road. Outside, now that smoking is banned in bars, are several dilapidated garden chairs, often occupied by a selection of Chesapeake Boys (see below) who will abandon their beers at the bar only as their nicotine craving demands. Inside though, Mike the chef served up chicken wings and hot honey sauce, crab
dip and hot crusty bread, and grilled cheese sandwiches to Hansel and Gretel and assorted school friends every Friday night for years. No week could be remembered as too dreadful once the stomach had been filled and the soul thus soothed. Of course, Hansel and Gretel have now grown out of barroom appetizers. Hansel now gets his calories and his comfort through beer, and Gretel now demands Clams Casino or Oysters Rockefeller at some of Itchy Ankle’s ritzier establishments. This fall off in custom, and the decision of the Chesapeake Boys to spend their drinking money on a month-long holiday in Tennessee this summer, forced a shut down. It’s a shame.
- Chase the Chesapeake Boys Itchy Ankle’s contractors have now taken their considerable custom to the Moose, where only members are admitted. We are not members and so our access to our builders, plumbers, electricians and HVAC specialists is now severely limited. The burly men open their office around 10am, seldom answer their phones and used to adjourn to the Snug (see above) around 4pm. We could be sure to find them there and could almost always get agreement that a job would be scheduled, materials ordered, or a task finished. To be sure, depending on the timing of this conversation, it might not be remembered or acted upon the next day, but we enjoyed the chance to see the burlies in the flesh and of course we like a drink ourselves. I apprehended the Chesapeake Boys in the bar the winter night when one of Itchy Ankle’s best addresses flooded. The world’s greatest realtor had called me to ask me to recommend a plumber. It was about 7pm, she was 50 miles away and had just been called by a neighbor who had shared the troubling news that water gushing out from under her kitchen door was turning her driveway into a skating rink. I repaired to the Snug, persuaded Jim into his truck, and rode to the rescue.
- Stop immediately if we see a pedestrian I wish I had a truck like everyone else in Itchy Ankle. It would be so useful for yard sales, and the garden center and runs to the dump. People are occasionally seen running along the side of the one road into and out of Itchy Ankle. If they are wearing short shorts and a headband we assume they are doing it for the good of their health, and drive by with a pitying shake of the head. If they are wearing long shorts and a bandana, we assume they are running from the forces of law and order, or an enraged spouse or particularly determined bill collector. In this case we look the other way. On the other hand, if a person is walking on the roadside (there is no sidewalk), we immediately assume a calamity and stop to offer a ride. I have been hailed by pick-up drivers who want to pick me up when I stop for more than a second or two. This could be because I want to take a photo, inspect a sign, or, when I (not infrequently) run out of gas. Spud Hughes once decided to walk to the Snug and back for the good of his health (of course, he planned to stop for a drink once he got there). He hadn’t progressed more than a few steps up Steamboat Lane when someone stopped to ask if everything was all right. People on push bikes are presumed to have lost their licenses in a DUI incident, as are those in golf carts and ride-on mowers.
- Spread fire and brimstone The God of Itchy Ankle is not a God of Love. We like our religion like our drinks–stiff–and our summer heat–unrelenting.
- Treasure each other’s rejects Itchy Ankle is fast becoming the junque capital of America. We have nearly as many consignment and upcycling stores as we do liquor stores and churches. My front room boasts a sleep sofa from an estate sale, a wine rack found out front at our local rattan rehab, the chair featured famously in Emmanuel (rescued by Hansel from a skip at the dump. It’s fine now we’ve got rid of the smell of mildew) and several inlaid chests and dressers bought very much used. Minimalist it isn’t.
- Miss our Janie Jane For years, Janie Janie and Henry Ford lived in between Peggoty and Barkis and Ms Monroe. Henry Ford had a big job in a print firm near DC. (He was never heard to say ” any color, as long as it’s black). Janie ran an open house in Itchy Ankle, her doors and her wine box open at any hour of the day or night. Originally from Tennesee, Janie lived by a cornbread clock–any time was a good time. There was always something involving kale (kay-uhl), beans and peach pie (pah) on her stove top and always a smile on her little flushed face. Mr Ford’s love of the three color process took them to Georgia. Janie sent us this video the other day celebrating Southern women. We love it and miss her.
- Look for Barkis’s bridge Small children in Itchy Ankle gain speed on their bikes and skateboards as they approach Barkis’s back gate. Barkis has a stick and he is not afraid to shake it. Barkis is of grizzled appearance and uncertain temper. He prides himself on being a classic children’s story villain. The 24 hour news cycle feeds his disgruntlement and makes him prone to angry outbursts. If he only had a bridge under which to sit and glower he would be a fully fledged troll.
- Go to work with dirt in our nails Weekends in Itchy Ankle are spent rescuing snapping turtles from near-certain death on the road, planting new floral finds brought home from Greenstreet Gardens or Captain Kirk’s plant stand, or shucking corn, picking crabs and raiding Ms Monroe’s vegetable patch for peppers. I get more grubby here as an adult than I ever did in my youth ( I was an indoor child, sedentary and bookish). I don’t always make good my manicure when Monday morning comes.
- Look forward to the weekend. Small wonder when you consider the above, plus the fact that we can sleep in, drink wine both early and late, take trips on friend’s boats and sit on our porches. In winter, we eat Peggoty’s goulash and Barkis’s pesto pasta. For Halloween, we collect at Princess Di’s. In the spring. St Patrick’s Day is one of many excuses to celebrate.
- Treat the Bay as our infinity pool. This summer I have not swum off the back of anyone’s boat. Perhaps all my boat-owning friends prefer I keep my cellulite under wraps, or fear that valuable crew members will be lost overboard as they strain to haul me back up over the stern. I shall have to plead with them, for a swim in the Bay is one of the real joys of a Chesapeake summer.