By Sher Horosko
When I arrived on the Shore in the Spring of 2013, I came as a settler to a new land. I wrote about the beauty of the natural world, that is, your natural world. There is so much to love.I watched, (for a rather long time), the sword fights of the fiddler crabs.
They moved like a murmuration of starlings in a fall sky, always streaming together, back to their sandy holes. I never could surprise them. Not once. And yes, I tried.
It had been a long while since I moved in such a watery world. I drank it up. My eyes were fresh and my heart, wide open.
I lived at the end of a long dirt road, about a mile in. In the morning, I would sit with my coffee and say out loud to the Ibis with their sickle-shaped-beaks: “I feel as though I am living in an Andrew Wyeth painting.” The slanted lightning rods on the roof of the old barn, the wispy fields, the egg-wash of colors, all this and much more stirred a deep hope, maybe even a prayer in me, that the beauty of this place would somehow endure.
That of course, is up to you.
After my first column in the Wave, Tammy Holloway wrote to me (I loved her comment the most), saying my words brought her back to the first feelings she and her husband had when they arrived on the Shore. That’s good. Dipping back into the things you cherish so much will be the spirit that keeps your fragile spit of land, alive.
I mean that. So let me tell you…
The purple morning glories I planted in a clay pot at the bottom of the front steps wrap around the porch column. The butterfly garden is bustling. Cabbage whites, Tiger and Pipe vine Swallowtails, and a few diminutive Blues, check in to see if the sweetness they favor is here or not. Butterflies taste with their feet. I wonder how this is so. I wonder too, how they found me so fast. Across the stretching fields of swaying corn, the wafer-winged jewels arrive in tiny teams.
Planting this garden was the very first thing I did upon arriving on the Shore. While it grew, I sat in little thickets of clover, crowding the field’s edge. It is alright to favor one butterfly over another, and truth-told, I love the Buckeyes with their bright purple dot most. Their straws are always deep in clover-sweetness.
It is time to set out, and in a new land, settlers get lost. But maybe not in Cheriton.
“What is happening?” I say to the steering wheel. Over and over I loop back to Lankford Highway.
Living here is like tamping down the speed on an old movie camera. I peer at the frayed POW flag on the pole at the Cheriton fire department and track an old man on a vintage bike peddling through the town. (Later I find him flat out in his front yard).
A vulture grips the metal sides of a forest green treasure-heap at the trash place just within eye-shot of a bunch of African Americans under a low hanging shade tree. I see this little group often and think the very same thing: People rarely gather like this anymore. A splash of what is best about this land is taking place under this tree. Plain talk. Friendship. A bit of the world not nailed down to time.
And time is definitely of a different order here.
On the Shore, a strong arc of the present reaches back to a rich and profoundly complex past. Most time-waves reach forward. Not here. The constant in and out of the tides, the horseshoe crabs belly up in the glittering sands and the running fields of potatoes, winter wheat, corn and soybeans soften memories of harder times. But the voices remain.
And the arc leans back.
Something about the shore-winds carries the human notes like a chorus: the shouts of one people holding another captive; the sounds of roiling waves, fearsome and sure, pounding-out the dreams of a town that went too far in places the Water Kingdom would never allow.
Returning home from another adventure in Cheriton, I make my way down the dirt road. A squall of dust coats the buff yellow flowers of wild mustard. I smile at the scrum of baby bluebirds I defended daily from a long black snake. They lead me in like royalty.
I had to leave the Shore. Life comes undone for all of us. And mine came apart rather completely. But you can see from these few words, that your land and many of you I was beginning to know have a place in me.
There are many stories left to tell.
The beauty never leaves us.
|It is a great pleasure to bring Sher Horosko to the Cape Charles Mirror. Sher brings such a joy and eloquence, and no one captures the Shore essence like she does. Her prose is the lyrical handshake to a Marty Burgess painting.
Sher Horosko is a writer and photographer living in Tucson. You may find her latest work at weseeyounow.com