RAGGED ISLAND -- On a day ablaze with red and gold trees, with the sun glittering on brilliant blue water and birdsong floating in the breeze, a human being doesn't have to be much of a philosopher to stand on the Eastern Shore, marvel at the grand scheme of nature and reflect on the wisdom of an old verity -- no man is an island.
But owning one, that's a different matter.
Ragged Island, a 140-acre private island with a house so enormous it could be mistaken for a convention center, is up for auction.
The Dorchester County island, its eight-bedroom, nine-and-a-half bath house and everything in it down to the last croquet mallet, will be auctioned off Dec. 2.
The modern, oversized house, which has a 60-by-45-foot living room with a 22-foot ceiling and an enormous gas log fireplace, has a spectacular view.
It sits off Ragged Point, 16 miles west of Cambridge, where the Little Choptank River flows into the Chesapeake Bay.
A rooftop deck encourages long hours of gazing at passing boats. (Better not to think about how it takes four days to cut the grass.)
There are about a dozen private islands on the bay, but William Bone, the auctioneer who is handling the sale, says the great thing about Ragged Island is that it's an island without being entirely surrounded by water.
You can drive there on your own causeway, if you don't feel like flying in to your private airstrip in your own airplane.
"You have all the beauty and romance of an island," says Mr. Bone, president of the National Auction Group, based in Gadsden, Ala., "and yet you have this causeway that would take 10 years and thousands of dollars to build."
Mr. Bone calls his company "America's Trophy Property Auctioneers."
He's the man who sold the pink mansion in Dallas owned by Mary Kay Ash, the cosmetics millionaire.
He's the man who brought the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the religion millionaire, to Texas to buy a ranch.
"I tell you what," Mr. Bone says, "the Reverend Moon went down there and spent $8.1 million. This is a much nicer place. And you get it with all the toys, the Jet Skis, everything."
Ragged Island is owned by Jim and Tom Krapf, construction millionaires from Wilmington, Del.
They bought the island in 1987 and built the house, swimming pool, tennis court and air strip.
They also bought James Island, a 60-acre uninhabited island on the other side of the Little Choptank, and are selling that as well.
"When you wake up in the morning and look out on it all, you know it's God's land," said Jim Krapf.
"It's awesomely beautiful. But we're getting antsy. It's time to move on."
Mr. Krapf said it's the same feeling you get when you fix up a boat or get your airplane just the way you want it.
"Then you want something else," he said. "I'm happier building a house than living in it."
Mr. Krapf is a 1972 All-American who played football at the University of Alabama.
"[Coach] Bear Bryant loved him to death," Mr. Bone says.
The Krapf ennui means the brothers are willing to sell their hideaway to the highest bidder.
Anyone can bid, as long as he or she has $100,000 in a pocket in certified funds to register for the auction and can pay up in 30 days. (The owners will finance.)
If you have to ask how much it will go for, you probably can't afford to bid. We're talking $2 million here, or maybe $5 million.
"You just don't know what it's worth," Mr. Bone said.
"The man who built it doesn't know. He said, 'Gosh, I got so much money in it, I don't know how much it's worth.' "
Even though Mr. Bone isn't planning to show the property until Nov. 18, after which daily tours will be offered, he has already had 300 inquiries, including calls from golfer Jack Nicklaus and a Saudi prince.
"I've just been surprised at all the calls," he said. "Even the Reverend Moon's place didn't attract this much attention.
"Maybe Calumet attracted more."
Mr. Bone also handled the sale of Calumet Farms, the Kentucky horse farm that Queen Elizabeth bid on.
The callers, he said, want to make sure there will be room to park their planes. They're attracted, he said, by the absolute privacy offered.
The approach to the causeway is guarded by a caretaker, Charles "Shorty" Sammons, who can shut the gate and cut off all access. The four-bedroom caretaker's house on the mainland -- with its own million-dollar view -- is included in the sale.
An auction has a way of attracting attention, Mr. Bone says. It doesn't necessarily mean a distress sale.
Mary Kay Ash's pink Texas mansion, down the street from H. Ross Perot, was on the market for two years before she decided to auction it, and got the more than $2 million she wanted.
"She's worth $320 million," Mr. Bone says, "and here she is auctioning her home. She decided it was too big for her. She said she never enjoyed it. You knew she was going to hit a home run at her auction because she's such a positive person."
Though her trademark is the color pink and she signs her name only with purple ink, Mr. Bone confides, her favorite color is actually seafoam green.
"We brought the Reverend Moon to Texas," Mr. Bone says. "And they like him, by the way. He joined the Chamber of Commerce. He spent a lot of money there. The same thing could happen in Maryland."
Mr. Bone says the house would be perfect for an embassy retreat. It looks a little bland and summer-hotel-like, with neutral beige carpeting and unremarkable furniture. There are two children's rooms, both with two rustic bunk beds.
Each of the two Krapf brothers had his own wing with four bedrooms. They met in the kitchen, which has two refrigerators, two microwaves, two ranges and two sets of cabinets.
Mr. Krapf says it's a great place for kids. He spent many happy hours, he said, fishing and crabbing with his sons, who now are 22 and 20.
"It was great," he said. "I really enjoyed it. But when they get older they're done with Dad. The wives and girlfriends start ruling."
Mr. Bone says the auction, at 2 p.m. Dec. 2, will include a lavish reception. There will be an admission charge of perhaps $10 or $25, and the proceeds will go to a local charity. He expects great interest.
"An auction means action," he says. "People who are very successful like the competition. Why spend millions of dollars and not have a lot of fun -- especially if you can outbid someone richer and more famous than you?"