Friday, September 30, 2022

The muskrat of contention: a study in envy

I already wanted the house, beautifully situated, built circa 1815 in a style straight out of the English countryside and already a century old then.

And then we saw the foxes: four of them lounging on the front lawn, like a scene from a Disney movie. (Note also the two fawns in the background, still retaining their spots in late summer.) Those bastards perfectly nice people, I thought: a gorgeous estate house, close by the Bay, an osprey nest in view, and they have foxes just lying about like lawn ornaments?!?

But I was not the only one feeling envious, for the house sits next to a marsh, and there one of the foxes had secured a muskrat... 

...and whilst things looked peaceable enough when we first came upon the scene, rivalry within the family group soon became apparent. No matter where the fortunate fox carried the prize, the others were always watching with a view toward stealing it away, and with possession came not contentment but anxiety.

Occasionally the tension spilled over, leading to conflict amongst and between the other foxes—"off-ball" action, as it were.

After a while, the possessor of the muskrat was left to eat in relative peace, though far from unobserved.

Eventually hostilities broke out again, and in the flurry of action possession may have changed hands—it was difficult for us to keep track, one fox looking very much like another from our vantage point.

In the end, to the victor the spoils.

For the loser, only the mask of resentment.

In light of which, I am happy to report—no, truly, I am—that Sandy Point Farmhouse is owned by the people of Maryland but continues to function as a private home for its resident curators. Under a program administered by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Maryland Historic Trust, the resident curators have a lifelong, rent-free tenure on the house, in exchange for restoring and maintaining the property for posterity—a good deal for them, the public, and of course the foxes.

And speaking of na sionnaigh, here are some more of Jessa's photos—less dramatic but more peaceful than the ones above.

Friday, September 16, 2022

Sandy Point

Some pictures from Sandy Point State Park near Annapolis, all by Jessa.

Yours truly, fishing from a jetty on the east beach, with Sandy Point Shoal Light in the background.

A better view of the lighthouse, with Sandy Point's signature orange sand.

The orange colour is not a photographic artifact; the native rock is rich in iron ores.

Sandy Point Shoal Light was built in 1883, electrified in 1929, automated in 1963, and finally discontinued as an active lighthouse in 2019. It stands in water less than ten feet deep—the "shoal" of the name, which attracts both fishing boats and fishing birds. Now privately owned, the lighthouse is currently covered in scaffolding and appears to be undergoing needed renovations.

Three marvels of engineering: 

Up the Bay, the Baltimore Harbor Light. Standing at the mouth of the Magothy River, it has been active since 1908 (making it the newest lighthouse on the Chesapeake) and closely resembles the Sandy Point Shoal Light. 

Another look at Sandy Point Shoal Light, and some spectacular Chesapeake Bay clouds.

Just down the Bay, the Bay Bridge. (Hey, I think that's me fishing again.)

Fishing fashion, appropriate to the location: Baltimore Bayhawks cap, sun shirt with rockfish graphics, and Old Bay board shorts.