Late at night after the fog has rolled in, and the house is silent, I often hear the distant cry of the lighthouse foghorn, cutting through the darkness as it diligently tones on and off. When I awake in the morning I usually don’t notice its absence until breakfast and it seems to only be a distant memory- possibly a figment of my imagination that slipped away with the fog and I find myself wondering when it stopped. To be honest, repetitive sounds often irritate me and so I initially found the sound annoying but with that same consistency can also be reassuring and meditative. It is the sound of the shore, the sound of sturdy land and safety and, as it’s become, the sound of home.
When I moved out here for the first time I lamented to a friend about how I thought I was going to go crazy. I had never been in such a small town with so few people. I was taking a couple classes at the local community college but I wasn’t sure how meet people- I felt alone and isolated. Not knowing where else to go, I began to get to know people through the gym as my gym rat status and constant presence was eventually accepted.
Where I really fell into home was when I found a local store called Chesapeake’s Bounty. The Bounty occupies space off the main road, a small open-air building surrounded by plants and community gardens. They only sell local foods and ingredients and the owner’s, Will’s conviction on the importance of supporting everything local was infectious. I quickly found myself making excuses to stop in several times a week to pick up tidbits of knowledge here and there about sustainable farming practices, wild food foraging and the details of the Chesapeake Bay and its regulations as it pertained to watermen.
It was the food of course, that brought the love and a sense of home. As the gap in my knowledge between the mysterious location of where and how my food was grown, and the distance between it and I narrowed, as I invested in something other than myself- invested myself in supporting and being a part of what was happening around me, supporting local farmers, artisans and waterman, I found that the gap in my heart, the lack of connectivity fell away with it. Food came first, as it always seems to, and then over time, without my noticing, I started to take root, finding comfort when driving along the main road- a comfort that stuck even when I was living in New York. Whenever I came to visit, I would immediately feel a subtle sense of calm come over me when I turned onto Route 4 South; I knew I was almost home. Now, when I drive towards Baltimore, I feel an inexplicable sense of pride as I drive up and down the hills that sit north of Prince Frederick- a somewhat arrogant pride for the hills, as if I somehow created them. As if they grew there solely for my own pleasure and joy for me to pass along.
In New York, there was always the sound of cars and sirens that could be heard throughout the night. I got used to them, as anyone who lives in the city does, but they never became a source of comfort. Usually (and especially after I brought my car to the city and was dealing with street-side parking) those noises just brought nuances of anxiety.
At first, the woods and the area near the bay seem quiet. There’s no honking and very rarely are there sirens or the sounds of people, parties or neighbors but eventually you notice that there are lots of other noises but that they just aren’t usually from people. And that’s just fine with me.