Shopping in Salisbury
On the last Saturday before Christmas, Route 13 in north Salisbury reminded me of Rockville Pike in Montgomery County. As the song says, the traffic was terrific.
Saturday was also the last day of fall, 2008. I didn’t venture into the mall; from the highway it looked like the parking lots were gridlocked. (Good news for the merchants.) I pulled into Barnes & Nobel. The large lot in front of the store was packed, but I found a space on the side.
I finished my Christmas shopping: Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett, for a friend, and The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle, for me. If you’re stumped for last-minute gift ideas for a Baby-Boomer on your list, I can recommend LEAP, What Will We Do With The Rest of Our Lives? by Sara Davidson, which I just finished. As long as I’m handing out recommendations, Ann Patchett’s Run and John Grisham’s The Appeal are both compelling stories.
Ocean City on the last Sunday in Advent
I returned to Ocean City, Maryland, in time for the 5:15 p.m. Saturday Mass (for the last Sunday in Advent) at Holy Savior Church on Philadelphia Avenue at 17th Street. The church is full in summer, but yesterday the congregation was mostly year-round residents, so the ranks of the faithful appeared thin. This must be one of the quietest weekends of the year in Ocean City. The snowbirds have flown south, and some of the people who live here year-round are away, visiting relatives for Christmas or Hanukkah.
I drove around after church Saturday evening, the first night of winter. (Frank Roylance has some interesting comments on the Winter Solstice on his Maryland Weather blog.) It was cold and traffic was light Saturday evening, even for the off-season. Christmas lights are everywhere in Ocean City, Maryland, but you can drive past block after block of closed motels, and condos where all the windows are dark. On Baltimore Avenue, lined with parked cars in summer, the curbs are wide open from corner to corner. Park anyplace you like.
Higgins Crab House is so brightly lighted that every time I drive past, I think it must be open, but it’s not, at least not right now. Phillips Crab House is brightly outlined by strings of tiny lights, as it is on a summer night, but it too is closed. Many of the larger hotels and restaurants remain open, and you see clusters of cars in parking lots here and there. The Embers’ parking lot looked nearly full Saturday evening.
A number of restaurants will reopen Dec. 26 for the New Year’s celebration. A great variety of New Year’s Eve parties are being advertised at restaurants and night spots, covering the spectrum of price ranges.
The Boardwalk on the first day of Winter
While New England received snow for the change of seasons, we got rain and overcast in the mid-Atlantic. Sunday dawned with pouring rain in Ocean City. But the sun made a surprise appearance around 1 p.m. After that, it turned into a very bright day on the boardwalk. The temperature rose from 40 to 45 degrees by 3 p.m. It felt cold but pleasant on the boardwalk, with only a few walkers to enjoy it. The surf was frothing white, and the wind was light. I counted at least four surfers in wetsuits between 5th Street and 7th Street. A chunk of the boardwalk is being rebuilt near 6th Street.
More stores were open on the boardwalk than usual for a Sunday in the off-season. You could have finished your Christmas shopping on the boardwalk, and had a shot of whiskey in a bar to warm up. I took photographs to prove that stores were open and a few people about.
I don’t think we’ll be having a White Christmas on the Eastern Shore this year. You know what means. Another year with no skiing in Snow Hill. – Bernie Hayden