Wednesday, August 16, 2023

What We've Lost


For my birthday we got up well before sunrise and used our flashlights to hike into Elktonia, a Black beach from the history of segregation. The entrance is unmarked; you have to have been told or shown where it is. As a result, few people know about it and it's always peaceful and private. 

I was struck by the fact that these people were never given the best sites, so if this forgotten beach was that beautiful still ... what must the other, "better" beaches have been like? What beauty have we lost? Maybe, though, the joke's on them -- this little piece of shoreline was too crappy to develop, and so was left untouched when all the prettier places around it were developed into condos. 

When we were in Alaska and I felt small and a little scared by the vastness and power of the landscape, I wondered if the first Europeans to arrive at the relatively placid, but still wild, Chesapeake would have felt that same human insignificance? We need big landscapes in our lives to inspire us to awe.

It was a peaceful morning, the oftest lapping of tiny wavelets on the shore and a sentinel heron standing on a ruined piling, as the sky went from mysterious deep dusty blue, to pink, to orange, to gold, and then down to the brightness of an ordinary day. We breakfasted on giant cinnamon rolls from the bakery at our marina, and tried to process our thoughts from the early excursion. And coffee. Lots of coffee.

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