It was a glorious spring day in Baltimore: Dogwood and forsythia were in bloom along the suburban highways, while in the heart of downtown, the daffodils had peaked and the tulips were opening.
At the Inner Harbor, the water taxi was busy with people eager to be on the water in the sunshine. A woman was painting a watercolor of the USS Constellation, a Civil War sailing ship that lies at anchor in the harbor.
And I had a hankering for steamed Maryland blue crab. Blue crabs taken from the Chesapeake are a Maryland tradition and can be bought by the bushel, already steamed. Crusted with Old Bay seasoning, they're spread on a table covered with butcher paper, cracked with small mallets, the meat picked out by hand. It's a messy job.
I took an outside table at an upscale restaurant and asked. Yes, the restaurant offers steamed blue crabs, the waitress said, but they're not in season yet.
Season? My husband, who grew up in Baltimore, shrugged. A man who's interested only in steak and pizza doesn't worry about seasons.
So I asked his brother-in-law, such a consummate outdoorsman that he knows the secret places where blue crabs hide out. He confirmed that the crab season is roughly April to November, although they're hard to find before late May.
I had to be satisfied with spicy crab chowder, crab cake and the memory of a creekside picnic table mounded with steaming crustaceans.
This is one in a series of postcards by Marjie Lambert, assistant Travel editor, who has been to all 50 states.