Tuckahoe Creek – Can We Get There from Here?

On the banks of Tuckahoe Creek, just up from its confluence with the Choptank River on the eastern shore of the DelMarVa peninsula, I played the drum and prayed for the vitality of the water. I prayed for the water because it is emblematic – a symbol, and the leading edge – of Earth’s hurting and opportunity for healing. Here I was in the shadow of a road sign that substituted for the actual destination of Frederick Douglas’ Birthplace. In reality, his birth place is several miles north on Lewiston Road, where a smaller tributary creek runs through a ravine known as ‘Kentucky’ into the Tuckahoe. A hundred or so yards further on Route 328, heading northeast, crosses Tuckahoe Creek and a sign reads, “This bridge dedicated to Frederick Douglas.”

The Choptank empties into Chesapeake Bay, which is formed by the confluence of the Potomac and Susquehanna Rivers. Washington DC stands on the western edge of the bay, both surprisingly intricate; the bay is a rich tapestry of ragged, watery edge and expansive, lowlands consisting of marsh and furrowed field all of which is sandwiched in between a great swarm of humanity crisscrossing itself on paved highways.

I had followed a small, brown sign that said, Frederick Douglas’ Birthplace, 9 miles.” Carl Anthony, former president of the Earth Island Institute says, “the success of ecopsychology will depend not only upon its ability to help us hear the voice of the Earth, but to construct a genuinely multicultural self and a global civil society without racism.”

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“If you visit Easton, the seat of Talbot County, you might see a small brown sign at the junction of U.S. Route 50 and Route 328 that invites you to turn north on Rt. 328 to the “Birthplace of Frederick Douglass”. Route 328 will lead you to a historical marker at the west end of a highway bridge that crosses the Tuckahoe River. But the marker is six miles from the real birthplace.”

Road Signs To A Dead End
“In 1995, the centennial year of the death of Frederick Douglass, Ebony urged its readers to plan family vacations so that the kids could see monuments to black history. They suggested you visit the birthplace of Frederick Douglass. (“How To Celebrate Black History Month 12 Months of the Year”, Ebony, Feb. 1995, vol. 50 no. 4)

“Why not?

“Because you can’t get to Douglass’ birthplace by following the tourist guidebooks and roadside markers. Most brochures describing tourist attractions in Talbot County, Maryland, mention the county’s distinction as the birthplace of Frederick Douglass. Like most other sources of tourist information, one online guide says that a historical marker at “Matthewstown Road, on the banks of the Tuckahoe River… marks the birthplace of Frederick Douglass.” But you won’t find “Matthewstown Road” on any road sign. That’s a local name for Md. Route 328.

“If you visit Easton, the seat of Talbot County, you might see a small brown sign at the junction of U.S. Route 50 and Route 328 that invites you to turn north on Rt. 328 to the “Birthplace of Frederick Douglass”. Route 328 will lead you to a historical marker at the west end of a highway bridge that crosses the Tuckahoe River. But the marker is six miles from the real birthplace.” See article here. 

Finding the connection between social, economic and environmental justice is about seeing the reflection of our internalized views about the ‘other’. Whether the other is someone with a different skin color, a different economic or social status, another species, or the land itself, an emphasis on how we are different, at the expense of a perspective of our interconnected-ness, has lead to the numbing reality of modern, western life. On the edge of Tuckahoe Creek, under a pulsing gray sky, the sound of the drum echoed off the brown water and the call went out to feel again; to feel the vitality of organizing life that moves through us and all things in hoops of joy, sadness, anger and inspiration.

The Bay Bridge is in the background. Dolly is sitting on the mainland side of Maryland with her back to the Chesapeake Bay and the DelMarVa peninsula.

The Bay Bridge is in the background. Dolly is sitting on the mainland side of Maryland with her back to the Chesapeake Bay and the DelMarVa peninsula.

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