I’ve said I’m a wanderer –and it’s true. However, if there’s one place on earth that has always felt like home, it’s Chestertown, Maryland –a modest town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore
We started visiting Chestertown regularly when I was a very little girl. My earliest memories are of visiting my Great Aunt Kate, who lived in a lovely Victorian home, just across from the wharf at the foot of High Street.
On these visits, I remember being fascinated by the ducks, geese, crabs, and other animals at the wharf and my curiosity only increased as Aunt Kate –who was a botanist– shared her many stories and observations of the symbiotic relationship between the various plants and animals that comprise the unique tidewater ecosystem of the Chesapeake Bay region.
Later, when I was in middle school, our family moved to Chestertown. Though we only stayed there full time for about four years, we were there on weekends and holidays for much longer. Over these years, our family became part of the community, and my ties to the town, and appreciation of the region’s natural abundance deepened.
Our family home in Chestertown became a reference point for me. It was the refuge I returned to on summer holidays during college and often sought as a young adult working in Washington, DC. It was also my destination of choice for Tea Party celebrations at Memorial Day, and 4th of July fireworks, as those were times when the whole town turned out, you could catch up on gossip, and meet long lost friends.
Therefore, you can only imagine how tough it has been riding out Hurricane Sandy long distance in West Africa. It’s been one of those times where you feel relieved to be out of harm’s way and guilty for not being there –all at the same time.
This storm has reminded me of the fundamental fragility of all life. While we support our friends and communities in recovering and rebuilding, we should also remember to take time to savor the moments in our own lives.
Life is short, and time moves more quickly than we realize. Someday we’ll all turn to dust –as with the ancient inhabitants of Pompeii or the great Pharaohs of Egypt.
What we have –and the only thing that is real– is the present moment. Let’s savor it, and try not to waste too much time worrying about what went before or what comes next.