Having recently moved to rural Calvert County in Maryland, I set off to explore the area near the four and a half acres of oak woodland that was our new home. Calvert is steeped in early colonial history.** Not far away was the home of the now infamous Dr Mudd, who treated Wilkes Booth as he fled after assassinating President Lincoln. Somewhere in my father’s ancestry was the woman who had married Dr Mudd. The house was one of several old red brick, two story homes, with a chimney on each end, no manner of porch or decoration on the front.
A little further down Route 4 (the main road which bisected the county lengthwise) I saw a sign indicating “Lower Marlboro.” I turned right onto a small country road and discovered a small settlement of stately old homes which fronted the Potomac River. The Potomac was only about a quarter of a mile wide at this point, affording a view of woods and wet lands on its far bank. This was a tiny community on a short side road with no store fronts, gas stations or other more modern conveniences. Just homes and the Potomac, lending me a feeling of having time-traveled into another century. Most of the residents were at work on this weekday morning, so even my car seemed anachronistic. The bright rays of the sun reflecting on the water created a sort of star-shine sparkle at various intervals on one side of the road. On the other, green grass fronted the houses. I pondered the first settlers here, after the native people, and, in my mind, erased the houses, picturing the beauty of this place with only that native population availing itself of the fish and other resources of the river. Having time-travelled further into the history of the area, I felt a familiar longing to return to those simple times, as if I had been there before. A time of hardship, certainly, and also of a natural simplicity of crisp unpolluted air, clean water, an abundant wildlife. The time before. To this day, that longing resides in me, having been a part of me as long as I can remember.
** A long narrow peninsula, the county lay between the Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac River.