I guess it is true, that what you see the most, you know the least. Easton is one of those places for me – too near to be considered a trip at all, more a destination for a special night out – music, dinner, a festival maybe. So I went there the other day with the intent of having a Christmas lunch with a friend, and with looking at Easton with new eyes. It is an interesting and kind of wonderful thing to do.
To begin,. I had a great lunch at a new place (to me!) that is near where my friend is living. Called The BBQ Joint (www.andrewevansbbqjoint.com), it is just exactly that – a small place featuring really, really good sawdust-on-the-floor barbecue, chili, and home made pie. It is a great way to start my small adventure.
From there I walked on that balmy December day toward the Museum and Gardens at The Historical Society of Talbot County. All those years of going to Easton, I have been totally unaware of this little gem on Washington Street.
Not so little, really. The museum houses a pretty comprehensive collection of items from the long history of the town, and of Talbot County.
It also has a simply lovely gardens (courtesy of the Talbot County Garden Club) and several typical structures that are open to tour through the spring, fall, and summer months. Even in winter, the gardens were elegant and serene, with camellias budding and ready to bloom.
Easton, originally called Talbot Courthouse, is the county seat of Talbot County, the county which has more shoreline (over 600 miles) than any other in the United States. The county was established in 1661 and was named for Lady Grace Talbot, sister of the second Lord Baltimore. Talbot Courthouse became known as the “East Capital” of Maryland because of the location of courts and government offices. Soon the name was changed to Easton.
Aimless walking in Easton takes you past three centuries of architectural styles along lovely, tree lined streets. These places have obviously always been here, but in my usual blinkered condition when in Easton, I’d never really noticed how lovely and graceful is the historic area of town. There are beautifully restored examples of 18th, 19th and 20th century houses, businesses and official buildings that are so seamlessly integrated into the workings of this active community that it takes a moment to appreciate the skill and dedication that has gone into maintaining the ambiance of the historic district. I’m sure that it isn’t easy, but the result is a town that is simply as lovely as it is alive.
This art town is host to nationally known festivals that attract people from around the globe – The Waterfowl Festival is one of the biggest sporting and wildlife art events in the U.S. (www.waterfowlfestival.org), and the Easton Plein Air Competition (www.pleinaireaston.com) brings in artists from all over the country. The Academy of Art Museum (www.academyartmuseum.org) is a really beautiful facility – both in gallery and classroom spaces. The Academy provides a continual venue for viewing the arts of the region – and the many galleries in town make Easton a year ’round arts destination.
So going to Easton for me is going to be a different experience in future. I really want to take more time, on my way to Night Cat or the Avalon Theater for music, or to Scossa or The Tidewater Inn or any of the many bars and eateries in town – or even to the Academy for lectures and openings…all of the things that I have always known about town are going to be a little richer for understanding a little more about the history of the place, and for having taken the time to look a little harder at what is so close at hand.