Don’t you just love serendipity?
On the last day of our wonderful Thanksgiving holiday in Maryland, my sister, the hostess, suggested we all visit a Christmas Tree Farm to get their tree. Her kids are exceedingly tech-savvy and in no time they had a destination in mind.
We would visit a place we had never been, Burke’s Tree Farm in Monrovia, Maryland. My heart sank when we arrived because all that was visible was a tiny smattering of trees of varying sizes and a Port-O-Let. I thought maybe one of the neighbors hung out a shingle to sell trees in the backyard.
Little did we know that the “backyard” was over a hundred acres, and small patches of trees dotted a rolling landscape that was lovely enough to border on magical.
I was prepared to sit in the car with Tom until I saw a tractor attached to a hayride-style (minus the hay) wagon pulling up. It had seats built into the edges. I thought “Tom can do this” until I saw the step up to the wagon. I again planned to sit in the car.
A very nice man who appeared to be in charge saw us and motioned to us to ride in the golf cart. We passed him on the way and Tom greeted him with a single word: Oysters. The man’s reaction to Tom’s utterance was initially puzzlement, but he immediately smiled and said, “You like oysters? Me too! I have some in the refrigerator. Do you want some?”
Tom accepted immediately, and I dismissed the whole conversation as a warm welcome. We were picked up by a son-in-law and set off behind the big wagon down a hill.
Naturally, I had to get the back story. The whole place was decreed to a family member in 1780 by Lord Baltimore himself. The road we were on was an old logging road. All the houses in sight belonged to members of the family. This is the fantasy life for my sister and me.
The place is gorgeous, with patches of Christmas trees so varied in size and type of tree, it makes for a most interesting adventure. A fire pit sits in the midst of all this, and my imagination was in overdrive, thinking of all these related people enjoying this land with such a wonderful legacy.
After we had our visitor fun taking pictures and getting a tree, we arrived by golf cart, safely, despite a brief period when the driver informed me that Tom had his foot on the accelerator. (Luckily we were in a meadow of level ground.) Arriving at the car, we were met by a smiling young woman who sheepishly said, “My father wasn’t kidding about the oysters.”
I laughed a hearty, “I accept!”, and of course, I had to get that story.
Her dad, Mr. Burke, had just gotten the oysters from a neighbor who had returned that morning with a pile of them from the Chesapeake Bay. We left with a bag of very fresh oysters.
There was enough time for an impromptu oyster lunch. The host for the weekend, my sister's husband, fired up the grill and let the oysters pop open just enough to shuck them, and my sister and I were ready to spoon on the ubiquitous garlic, parsley, and butter sauce before blanketing them with grated Parmesan cheese. Rolls that were left over from Thanksgiving sat on the grill heating as mimosas were poured, and within minutes we had a grand finale to the trip, sitting outside on the deck in the sunshine and uncharacteristically mild temps for late November in Maryland.
The oysters were clean, medium-sized, and a very tiny bit chewy. We suspect it may be that they had slightly cooked before we cooked them with the chargrilling. But oysters are just the vessel for the garlic butter anyway. A rousing thumbs-up was unanimous for the end of a perfect trip.
And we toasted our oyster supplier, John Burke from Burke’s Tree Farm in Monrovia, Maryland.