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Tales of the Tide
Experiencing the Southeastern Coast through Essays, Artwork, Photography, and Video
I fooled myself into believing this book was intended to coach non-coastals on how to appreciate the unique facets of the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern Seaboard. I wanted to help others look beyond the obvious charm of tidal marshes and shell-covered beaches and develop a better understanding of their complexities and ever-changing beauty. My reference points spread from the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where I grew up, to the Carolina Lowcountry, where I spent the middle third of my nearly 60 years. Indeed, I wanted to help others learn some of the things I had been taught in hopes they would gain a new passion and respect and pass it along, as it had been passed to me. In truth, the book became a selfish endeavor. It gave me an escape from the bustle of city life to relive memories made where land mingles with the sea, where pristine marshlands are puzzled by winding creeks, where hidden bays are painted by the sun and jeweled by the moon, where threads of barrier coastline connect stories of the Atlantic. Places that breathe in the nourishing ocean tide and breath out an abundance of fascinating life born in shallow nurseries; places that have taught me and held me and always welcome me back home. My time spent wading the edges of the Chesapeake Bay, riding the ruts of the Outer Banks, and poling the shallows of the Lowcountry gave me both practical knowledge and priceless perspective. I have learned things that cannot be taught by pen or page, seen sights that cannot be captured by paint or brush, and heard sounds that cannot be copied by string or note. I’m selfishly glad of that fact. With the help of some talented friends, however, I have attempted an adequate portrayal of at least some of my experiences. The task has been rewarding and challenging, and I humbly thank the many contributors for their patience. FOREWORD While I’m fortunate to have grown up “on the edge,” I’m not the authority regarding the content in this book. My father passed the knowledge and passion on to me that had been passed on to him. My education was further advanced by friends and mentors who humbly shared their tricks—things you could learn on the Internet, but wouldn’t be the same without the storytelling hands of a lifetime waterman or years spent on the bow of a boat. My time on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and the Carolina coast have left me with an indelible love that has grown only stronger as the years pass by. Those memories fill me up, calm me down, and bring me closer to my core. At this stage in my life I tend to forget some things, but not those things. They are rooted in a place that refuses to grow old, a place that protects me from a world that’s spinning too fast. I try hard not to take those gifts for granted, knowing there are only so many tides left in a lifetime. I’ve always believed in the saying that “your days on the water are not subtracted from your days on earth,” or at least that’s my excuse. Regardless, I won’t apologize for being a little late for something if the fish are biting, a little smelly after traipsing in pluff mud, a little emotional when the moon shines on the water, and a little excited when the net draws closed. I can’t help it. Please enjoy this book of authentic tales and borrowed recipes. Appreciate the beautiful art and skillful instruction by local and expert contributors. And if crossing back over the Causeway Bridge leaves you longing for the tug of a blue crab, the sight of heron in the marsh, or the smell of a Lowcountry boil, welcome to the club. It’s a lifetime membership.