Yesterday we spent the day swimming, splashing, and exploring along the western shores of the Chesapeake Bay, along our favorite "beach" in Calvert County, MD. We found fossilized sharks' teeth, rejoiced at seeing some mysterious kind of tadpole swimming along side of us, put some jellyfish in a bucket so we could study them like we were contestants on Fear Factor.... it was a dreamy day that ended with ice cream and children asleep in the back seats, surrounded by halos of sandy hair and sticky with salt water and smiles.
I loved every minute of it, and so did our friends from Ireland, who have only been to the great estuary a few times before. At one point, the sky was so unreal and lovely with pink perfect clouds just above the sail boats on the watery horizon that my friend AT declared it was as if we were looking at the scenery backdrop of that Jim Carrey movie "The Truman Show."
Today, as I flicked on the computer, I read a news story entitled Sea Grass Losses Reveal a Global Crisis on Reuters, and realized that despite our fun yesterday we had seen very little in the way of bay grasses. We never see them, and yet I know we should see them all around. In fact, we should know their names almost as well as we know the names of the trees, the names of the flowers... their appearance should be as regular as the jellyfish's tentacles in the water around us while we explore. Our hands and feet should be slimy with them when we swim.
Something important is increasingly missing from the picture. Despite the idyllic day on the shores of that oh so special place we simply call the Bay, more and more is gone from the lovely scene each year.
My friend's daughter found one single, small oyster shell yesterday. She had no idea what it was. The shock of that is hard to swallow. Those shells should be everywhere, the shellfish themselves should number in the millions all around the Chesapeake Bay. But they don't. They are gone. That one lone shell is nothing but a ghost.
It is hard to love a place so much, and feel so small when you try to save it or protect it.