(Quick note from Kristi: Directly across the Chesapeake, Washington D.C. is comprised of land that was donated by both Maryland and Virginia. While it’s not technically a state, it is its own territory and instead of grouping it with Maryland or Virginia I felt it was important enough to have its own week during our project, so you won’t see anything about the nation’s capital this week.)
This week we mosey down the Atlantic Coast, just south of the Mason-Dixon line to the “Old Line State” of Maryland. Maryland is one of the smallest states in the Union but also happens to be one of the most densely populated with nine of every ten Marylanders living in or near a city, the largest being Baltimore. I can’t wait to teach the kiddos this week about the land that birthed the “Sultan of Swat” (thank clip is for you, Aunt Sarah!), inspired an anthem and played host to the bloodiest single-day battle in American History.
Maryland’s distinct shape (it’s only 2 miles across in one place!) is most due to its location on the Chesapeake Bay. As I told the kiddos tonight, the Bay is actually an estuary which is a body of water that is partially enclosed that contains both salt and fresh water. The Bay is extremely important to Maryland’s economy, especially since it is home to Maryland’s state crustacean, the blue crab. Nearly 50% of the harvest of the crabs that have blue claws comes from the Bay area. You can be sure that there’ll be all kinds of blue crab facts flying around here this week. The production of soft shell clams from the Bay is also important to Maryland. You can only imagine how delighted Mikayla was to learn about the Bay and all its offerings as we put up the wall tonight!
Noah was a tad more eager to talk about the Baltimore Ravens (who used to hail from my home state of Ohio!) and the Baltimore Orioles. I was even more eager to tell him about all the famous baseball players that are Maryland natives! As I hinted above, Babe Ruth was actually born in Baltimore, where there is a museum devoted to him near Camden Yards. Any Detroit Tigers fan owes a debt of gratitude to Maryland for giving us “Mr. Tiger” himself, Al Kaline. And just for my Mama, who adores him for his incredible blue eyes, Cal Ripken, Jr. was not only born in Maryland but played his entire record breaking consecutive game streak career in an Orioles uniform.
For the history buff, Maryland has plenty to offer. Maryland son, Francis Scott Key, wrote his poem "Defence of Fort M'Henry” after witnessing an attack on Ft. McHenry during the War of 1812. The poem was later set to music and was renamed “The Star Spangled Banner” which then became the United States national anthem in 1931. Maryland was also the setting for many Civil War battles (the most notable stretching from September 4-20, 1862 that was known as the Maryland Campaign) including The Battle of Antietam which was not only the bloodiest single-day battle in American history but also the first battle of the Civil war to take place on Union soil. Notable abolitionists (and former slaves) Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman were both born in Maryland, with Tubman playing a key role in establishing the Underground Railroad
Maryland is also home to plenty of notable ‘firsts’. The first cathedral built in the United States, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary was also one of the first major religious structures built on US soil after it adopted the Constitution. King William’s School (or what later became St. John’s College) was founded in 1696, making it the first school in what would become the United States. John Hopkins Hospital and John Hopkins School of Medicine (part of John Hopkins University) are known as the founding institutions of modern American medicine and are the birthplace of numerous traditions including rounds, residents and housestaff. Maryland also has a hand in significant aviation history as it is home to College Park Airport, which since its opening as a military demonstration site for the Wright Brothers in 1909 is the world’s oldest continuously operating airport. If that’s all not enough, Annapolis (the capital) is home to the United States Naval Academy. The USNA has a fairly impressive list of alumni, including former President Jimmy Carter, Apollo XIII Commander Jim Lovell and even fictional alumni like Jack Ryan.
I also had to share with the kiddos one of the Maryland oddities I found most interesting, the Assateague Horse. Hailing from Assateague Island, 2/3 of which is owned by Maryland and 1/3 of which is owned by Virginia, the mystery of how the horse ended up on the island is up for debate. Legend has the feral horses being descendants of survivors of wrecked Spanish galleons off the Virginia coast, though it is more commonly accepted that they were released on the island by 17th century colonists looking to escape livestock laws and taxes on the mainland. The following was what I found most interesting and had to share with Noah and Mikayla tonight: “ Although the entire Island is owned by the federal government, Assateague is split by a fence at the Maryland/Virginia state line, with a herd of around 150 ponies living on each side of the fence. The herds live on land managed by two different federal agencies with very different management strategies. Ponies from the Maryland herd, referred to in literature of the National Park Service as Assateague horses, live within Assateague Island National Seashore. They are generally treated as wild animals, given no more or less assistance than other species on the island, other than to be treated with contraceptives to prevent overpopulation. Conversely, the Virginia herd, referred to as Chincoteague ponies, lives within the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge but is owned by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company. The Virginia ponies are treated to twice yearly veterinary inspections, which prepare them for life among the general equine population if they are sold at auction.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chincoteague_Pony)
While all this interested the kiddos as we put up the wall, what they are most excited about is that they have actually been to Maryland in recent memory! Noah’s godfather, Arthur, my bestie and his wife, Kristina and their absolutely most adorable little Lillian hosted up last summer in Jessup, Maryland. You might remember our trip, with Noah and Kayla’s favorite day being when we visited Baltimore. Having been there, knowing Uncle Arthur, Aunt Kristina and Lillian are there (and now the Hals family, too!) and at least for the Bean, knowing there’ll be plenty of seafood on the table this week has them both excited to venture through Maryland this week.
Speaking of seafood…
You didn’t think we’d make it through the week without having crab cakes, right? I decided to make the dish probably most often associated with Maryland tonight with some Crab Cakes with Chesapeake Bay Mayo for dinner tonight. I also found this yummy recipe for Maryland Baked Corn to go with them. You can only imagine how excited my four year old seafood loving Bean was! For dessert I made a Baltimore Peach Cake. I have no idea how they are directly linked to Maryland but I found quite a few recipes for it and read that it could be found in many local Baltimore bakeries. It seemed like something my crew would enjoy so we gave it a go! I had planned on making Maryland’s State Dessert but I realized that by the time I got home from grocery shopping this morning that I was going to be pushing it to actually get this put together. But have no fear, I am going to attempt the epic Smith Island Cake on Wednesday!
I’m in Noah’s class in the morning and tomorrow’s another special day around here as Grant and I are actually celebrating our 8th anniversary tomorrow. Some mail from three of our very favorite Marylanders is also on tap tomorrow. So until then…
Crab cakes ready for cooking up
Think someone's tuckered out from the past few days?
Noah got to pick a prize from the Treasure box today at school for his birthday. Meet "Sting the Ray"
The Chesapeake Bay May for the crab cakes
Maryland Corn (Grant loved this recipe)
Frying up the crab cakes
Baltimore Peach Cake
The Maryland wall is up!