The trees ahead and the bushes beside you Are not lost.
Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you,
If you leave it you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still.
The forest knows Where you are.
You must let it find you.
~ David Whyte, The Heart Aroused: Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America
I unplugged for a while yesterday, and went to Assateague Island to walk in the woods, take a stroll on the boardwalk that meanders through the marsh, and wobble my way through the soft sand of the dunes (on the trail that permits one to walk through the dunes). I went to Assateague to commune with the wild horses, to wander around the beach admiring the beauty of the shells that wash ashore, and to listen to what the ocean has to say.
It was a beautiful day to be at the beach. Relatively warm, sunny, and not too windy. I overdressed for the excursion. I thought it would be colder on Assateague Island. It is January, after all. But it was warmer there than at home. Usually it’s the opposite which is why so many folks flock to the beaches in the summer months in an effort to cool off. Every now and then, though, the wind shifts and brings something warmer rather than something cooler.
I explored a new trail yesterday. New to me, that is. The trail has been there. I’m not sure for how long, and I’ve seen the opening to the path on previous visits so it’s not like I didn’t know it was there. It is new to me in the sense that I never hiked it before. It starts behind the Assateague Island Visitors Center and I thought it was designed as a mere connector between the Visitors Center and Rackliffe Plantation House. I haven’t visited the plantation house prior to this, either. I don’t know why. Both the unnamed path and the plantation house have been on my list of things to do when I visit Assateague Island, and yesterday felt like a great day to explore something new to me. The plantation house, by the way, is not open (except by appointment) this time of year, but you can still walk around it and try to peer into the windows.
The beginning of the trail starts behind the visitors center and parallels the Sinepuxent Bay on the left. Then it curves off into a tunnel of what I think are myrtles. As you walk farther along, the myrtles mingle with loblolly pines and the path is softened by the pine needles.
The scent that arises from crushing the pine needles underfoot is wonderful, warm, and kind of spicy.
Eventually the trail does lead to the Rackliffe Plantation House. The house was built in the 1740’s by Captain Charles Rackliffe, a merchant-planter, who was the grandson of one of Maryland’s early immigrant settlers. The house overlooks the Sinepuxent Bay, and as I walked around the house and the area around it, I wondered how rough the elements must have been out there in the winter months. Then again, the house is quite a distance back from the waterfront. Perhaps the wind and cold were not too bad.
The early Rackliffe’s used indentured servants when they first came to the New World. About forty years or so before the plantation house was built, they had switched over to slaves. According to this timeline, there is no mention of slaves by the early 1800’s.
I took quite a few photos of the house and outbuildings, but I think I’ll wait to show you more after I’ve gone back during the summer season when the house is open and things are growing in the garden.
After circling around the Rackliffe Plantation House, I noticed another path heading away from it and decided to follow it for a while. I’m not sure how far it goes. I ended up turning around after about 20-30 minutes, mostly because I was hungry and had a picnic lunch waiting for me in the car. It was time to leave the woods on the mainland, head out to the island, and find a picnic table.
I reckon that’s it for today’s meander. We’ll continue on a ways in the woods surrounding the plantation while I finish up this post. I’ll bring you more from my day on Assateague Island sometime soon. Thank you for stopping by and rambling along with me. It looks like sunset will be interesting this evening. Let’s head over to the Point to see the show. Sunset is at 5:24 PM. I’ll be there early, as usual, so I can have a look around.
Be good, be kind, be loving. Just Be. 🙂
A few of the 10,000 reasons to be happy: 101) Friends, near and far. 102) A day on Assateague Island to rest and recharge. 103) The healing properties of salt air and salt water. 104) Calming meditations. 105) Calming teas.