A Lesson in Sitting Still
Driving the farm this morning the contrast between the land and the sky are minimal. The shades of tan and grey blend into one another, as I look across the field and marsh toward the Annemessex River. The rain is starting and for April, the 46 degree morning still feels cold and reminds me of how far behind the growing season is and how I am looking forward to the sunshine of spring and drier conditions for land on the Eastern Shore. Even so, the early morning tour of this farm makes for an enjoyable trip as this area of the Shore is my place.
I feel strangely at home on these narrow roads that barely give us room to pass each other when two cars meet on the road. Everyone waves as we try to stay out of the ditch now full of water along the roadside. I have hunted on a lot of these farms along the Annemessex River and have spent many high tides during afternoons in January going creek to creek exploring thin ribbons of water going inland to see the historic homes and forgotten land left fallow and allowed to grow back from active agricultural operations.
Perhaps one of the most intriguing aspects of this part of the world is the lack of people, and many of those afternoons on the river you would never even see another boat or hunter. Maybe it is the quality of hunting or maybe it is the remoteness of the river that makes the Annemessex River so under-recognized (or maybe it is because it is so hard to spell – my Microsoft Word spell check does not like my spelling of Annemessex for the fifth time now).
Nevertheless, it stands out to me as an important place and I can appreciate its remoteness and largely untouched shorelines. I doubt my connection is because of the quality of the hunting or the historic nature of the river’s watershed that seems to be somewhat trapped in time, as development has hardly touched it or attempted to change it in any material way.
Maybe my connection to this place is because of the time I have here without work and without challenge, as a boy when my Father and Uncles would throw me in the boat and tell me to sit down and not move. Sitting still was not my strong suit as an eight year old boy, even to the point my Father painted an outline of my butt on the boat seat. I have the image of him telling me this was my seat and he had a matching one. Artistically, he wove the paint into his camo pattern with the “OD Green” paint on the boat. That was my place to sit, as you learn early to never stand up in a moving duck boat in winter. Nothing good can come from that.
My appointment arrives snapping me from thoughts of sitting still in the boat. The client is going to walk the grey and tan landscape with me for a few minutes while we talk about what might inspire another person to become connected to the river, the land and this place. Perhaps all they need to do is to come and see it; sit still in the boat, look and listen quietly. I think that is it, we often fail to sit still and take in our surroundings. That is why I am connected to this place. I sat still, looked and listened.