Spring on the Island by Carol Mylander

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The Queen Anne’s County’s soil warms up, but, the fields on Kent Island are a little slower, because of all the still cold water around and flowing through it. Our cool bays, creeks and river are our saving grace in the summer, and prolong our growing season into the late fall. The humidity adds to the health of our farm fields and gardens.

An Island spring for me means the blooming of Shadbush (Amelanchier arborea) those white flowering trees in the woods before the Dogwood(Cornus florida) blooms. It is a marvelous timing of Shad running and first of many Shad Roe dinners.

As the temperatures climbed, the fishnet makers of my youth, would move their weaving operations outside. I remember dipnet weavers working outside in Stevensville and Chester. With the hustle and bustle of shoppers and people going about their business the weavers slowed time and reminded us of our Island heritage. Men repairing Seine nets, the spring tides and the salty air sweeping the Island slowed time and reminded me of how special the Island was and our place on the earth.( A dipnet is a handheld pole with a string net knotted to a wire ring for the dipping of crabs and fish.)

Along the roadside hedgerows and by the edges of woods blooms another tree Possumhaw viburnum(Viburnum nudum). It has graceful flat blossoms similar to small hydrangea flowers, on spreading branches. Upon close observation it is much like Queen Anne’s Lace, very soft flowers with an overall lacy appearance. In my garden the tiny flowers are just gently falling.

Our native azalea( Rhododendron atlanticum) blooms all over the Island and can be found along the perimeter of woods. My grandmother sent me on my bicycle to fetch branches of this pink flowering honeysuckle like flowers. I rode my bicycle down Cedar Lane the only road in Benton’s Pleasure in and out of the ruts of broken oyster shells. I had to open and close the cattle gate each way, carrying the huge bunch of flowers.

In May watch out for locust ( Robinia psudoacacia) which grows along the banks of our estuaries especially Coxes Creek. It’s drooping fragrant clusters scent the air. The flowers are made up of pea-like white petals. My grandmother was always first to discover them in bloom, cutting branches and bringing them into the house. She put them in a crystal bowl on an old marble topped chest near the porch door. Then she would say “When the locust trees bloom, soft crabs are in season”. Locust wood because of it’s hardness and resistance to saltwater is used for boat posts in the creek, fishing weirs and fence posts.

Matapeake and Batt’s Neck are the places to see Wisteria “gone wild” growing up 50 foot trees, their blue violet flowers pretending they are falling from the treetops themselves, not the ancient vines they are. A reminder of how old this almost 400 year old settlement is, not including the previous 12,000 to 20,000 years of Indian habitat.

While all this flowering is going on the marshes are greening up, tiny one and a half inch crab shells are found in the detritus on the shoreline blessing us with the promise of crab feasts in the summer. As I walk the bay beach and pick up a few oyster shells for later sketching, I wonder where the scallop shells are. I still find beach glass, abundant in smaller pieces piled by a jetty. The Chesapeake Bay shoreline of Kent Island much changed since my childhood.

Carol Mylander was born on Kent Island where she spent her early years exploring clay cliffs, beaches saltwater marshes and ancestral places. She teaches journal workshops, paints and draws and is writing a book about her family and personal experiences on Kent Island.  She gardens professionally in Queen Anne’s and Kent counties.

Letters to Editor

  1. mary wood says:

    Well written !!!

  2. I’ve enjoyed Carol’s reminiscences and reflections on our walks together many times. With Kent Island changing so rapidly, it’s so good to see them in print where everyone can benefit from them. These are insights and memories not to be lost.

  3. Nice musings about the your childhood adventures and the ‘old’ Bay wildlife and flora.

  4. Carol’s writing takes me to our childhood and pungent sweet air of our grandparents home.Thank you.

  5. Caroline Moulsdale says:

    What a beautiful article!!

  6. Like the greenworld itself, our remembrances are bountiful with the grace and marvel of life.

    Quoting Frederick Buechner’s A Room Called Remember: Uncollected Pieces:
    “—to enter that still room within us … where the past lives on as a part of the present, where the dead are alive again, where we are most alive to our turnings and to where our journeys have brought us. The name of the room is Remember …. where with patience, with charity, with quietness of heart, we remember to remember the lives we have lived.”

    Thank you, Carol, for the grace and greenness of your life and its remembrances.

  7. Heather Forsyth says:

    Carol, what a lovely, evocative piece! Thank you!

  8. Constance says:

    Simply beautiful. You made me see the blooms.

    Love, C.

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