Winter Harbor ~ The Island, South

out the inlet

 

After coffee, I head out to the beach and turn right.

There is only one house on the island. There is no one else here.

Walking south. Here, too, trees hang on with impressive resilience. Roots fully exposed, awash at high tide. Nevertheless, they persist.

 

 

 

 

 

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Winter Harbor ~ The Island, North

 

It’s early, and T is sleeping in for the first time in months. After coffee, I leave by the screen door, wade fifty steps through soft sand to the Bay and turn left.

There is only one house on the island. There is no one else here.

The island is two miles long, most of that north of the house. But it is very, very narrow. For most of its length, so narrow you can stand in the marsh and throw a stone across to hit the Bay. More than a sandbar, but to call it a barrier island perhaps exaggerates. There are trees, many of them quite old, but dunes throughout are flattened by overwash from Bay to marsh. It’s clear that water often flows through the trees. No barrier; more like a split rail fence.

The place is raw and wild. Animal tracks everywhere – birds of all kinds, but also otter, fox, raccoon and muskrat. And terrapins. With no one to disturb them, the tracks persist between rains. We find many skeletons. Like the undisturbed tracks, bones remain in place, composed where each creature took a last step.

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Winter Harbor ~ The Island that Isn’t

south end of the island, the original inlet, house and dock

 

The island has no official name. It has not been an island long enough to get one. Perhaps a budget office calculates it isn’t worth updating maps and charts, that it may not be an island for long. Even for locals it has no name. They simply refer to it as “the island.”

Not quite here, not quite not.

While most islands in the Chesapeake are disappearing – Smith, Tangier, and Hoopers; others like Holland already gone – new islands do appear, created by the same forces. That’s how this island came to be, about 40 years ago.

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Winter Harbor ~ Crossing Over

 

 

The directions were a little vague. Arriving on the downwind leg of the afternoon, we followed not so much directions to this place as a description of it. Our friends decline cell phones. Their farmhouse is lined with shelves of books, the kitchen with jars of food from the garden. They don’t use the internet; no email or texts. They send hand-written notes by mail, or call on a land line shared with another couple. Not much help here. There’s no land line out on the island, either, so we can’t call to be sure.

This feels right, though – they’re good with words, our friends – but we’re going a bit on faith, like looking for a place you only know from novels.

 

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Maine ~ on Isle au Haut

Lighthouse on Isle au Haut Thorofare

 

There’s a welcome party on the docks at Isle au Haut. Families here to greet relatives, fishermen to collect gear ordered from the mainland, others just to see who or what the tide has brought in. I recognize the Mayor and Mrs. Mayor from the short film I saw a few years ago, the one that made me want to come here.

 

The dinghy dock at Isle au Haut

 

 

 

Rubber bands for binding lobsters’ claws for market.

 

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Kinsale ~ Sailing and History

In 1813, a handful of lightly armed vessels, sent down from defenses at Baltimore, confronted British warships out in the Bay and were cornered here in the Yeocomico. It did not go well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Morning is clear and warm, with a light steady breeze out of the West.  It will be hot today.

Several of the boats are out in the creek already, or working their way downriver. Doug’s new Marsh Cat is not yet finished, so he’s sailing the second Melonseed. From the beach I can see Caesura’s tanbark sail glowing and gliding against the bluegreen treeline in the distance. Then I, too, am off.

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