Over here on the Eastern Shore, stranded as we are between the ocean and the bay and suspended just a few feet above sea level, we tend to pay attention to weather phenomena. That said, the recent high tides around the Delmarva seem to have caught most of us by surprise. In retrospect, I guess we can blame them on the marriage of October’s Hunter Moon (no relation to Hunter Biden, thank God!) and Tropical Storm Melissa (no relation to Ms. McGlynn as far as I know)—a one-two punch that produced quite a diluvial effect, not quite of Biblical proportion, mind you, but impressive nonetheless.
Over there, across that awful bridge that’s as clogged these days as Bernie Sanders’ arteries, other storms are raging, albeit man-made, not natural, ones. While we’re not immune from these tempestuous events, they seem slightly at a remove when our docks are underwater, our basements are flooded, and our socks are wet. But they aren’t.
John Donne, in his unmatched and infinite wisdom, knew full-well that “no man is an island entire of itself; we are indeed each a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” So true; like it or not, we’re bound to the God-awful mess on the other side of the bay just as we are to the real-time human tragedies unfolding in lands far beyond as well. That’s the way this world is now; isolationism is a worn-out trope of the past.
But I promised my wife and editor that I would not be a prophet of doom and gloom, that I would stick to the higher, drier ground of light Musing. So I will. I have to admit that I was enthralled by the recent high tides. Maybe they were providing us with a glimpse of things to come, a window into the future of our climate-change world…oh, sorry, there I go again.
OK; now I’ll just stick to the facts. How ironic is it that Iffy couldn’t go out on his boat because his dock was underwater? Or that Crumpet’s once-dry basement was now a lake? When in the ring with Mother Nature, all bets are off. If your money was on a full moon up in heaven and a tropical storm far out to sea creating havoc down here on the Eastern Shore, then you were a winner. Ignore the old girl at your peril; she still packs a wallop. Just ask our friends in Tokyo. (They are still our friends, aren’t they?)
The tide isn’t high just over here. It’s on the rise everywhere and contrary to conventional wisdom, it’s not floating all the boats in the harbor. A few yachts may be rising but most of the smaller boats are, in fact, sinking fast. As for me, just when I think I’m cocooned and immune from the rollercoaster of the daily news cycle over there that’s spinning like another tropical storm, I’m once-again reminded of Donne’s elegiac humanism: “I am involved in mankind.” That bell you hear? Don’t send to know for whom it’s tolling. It’s tolling for all of us.
There I go again.
I’ll be right back.
Jamie Kirkpatrick is a writer and photographer with homes in Chestertown and Bethesda. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Washington College Alumni Magazine, and American Cowboy magazine. “A Place to Stand,” a book of photographs and essays about Landon School, was published by the Chester River Press in 2015. A collection of his essays titled “Musing Right Along” was published in May 2017; a second volume of Musings entitled “I’ll Be Right Back” was released in June 2018. Jamie’s website is www.musingjamie.com