Sometimes you just need a distraction. Anything will do. A Sunday drive might work…and then we are off to New Market, Maryland, a small historic Federal style town (founded in 1793 beside the rough wagon trail, also known as the Baltimore Turnpike) that we haven’t been to for a very long time, but now all of a sudden I am curious to see what we have missed over the years.

I remember lots of antique shops and it just so happens that I am in the mood for antiquing (you have to be in the mood for cramped, dusty spaces, for stepping back in time, for yellowed pages and stained eyelet dresses and chipped china and missing beads and worn, over-loved, broken things).

The day is supposed to be cool and fall-like but somehow it isn’t. It is hot and humid and the one street that is the whole town of New Market is eerily quiet (which has to do with road construction, which we find out later is very much an issue for the town and the merchants—all the more reason to visit if you have a soft spot for this kind of thing).

We eat lunch at Vintage Restaurant. It used to be Mealey’s (an old-school favorite) and now is a country chic place, with stylish nods to the old establishment (like the original exterior shutters suspended between dining rooms), waiters in plaid shirts, very fresh food, and homemade ice cream.


We end up spending most of the time after lunch in one shop—Smith Tavern Antiques—a plain, gray two-story building with a long, narrow front porch—the oldest building in the town. It is owned and operated by a couple who live in the back rooms and upstairs of this very old place. He is a retired math teacher, tall and has to duck a lot. She has upswept hair, specializes in vintage handbags, and shows us an original A. Aubrey Bodine photograph of Penn Station in Baltimore (to keep in mind for later).


They both say, “excuse the mess” more than once when they bring us back to their living area. And they both say, “but this is where we live” more than once. As we’re leaving, she gives me two tomatoes from their small backyard garden.

It is bright and quiet and very still when we go outside and close the door on this couple who live a kind of life I can only imagine, and it turns out, it is just the distraction I need. No excuses necessary.