|Tuckahoe (from Window on the Chesapeake)|
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This is what Carl Scheffel is doing on a fine autumn day, though to the uninitiated it seems he is just paddling his small dory down the broad back of the river. To fold yourself into a small boat, though, and silently travel the sinuous path this waterway has carved for thousands of years is to open yourself to the possibilities of a tangible, reachable past. Scheffel, executive director of the Old Harford Town Maritime Center in nearby Denton, Maryland, comes here often to get an unadulterated feel for what once was. Some twenty-five miles
|This story is an excerpt from Window on the Chesapeake by Wendy Mitman Clarke. To order this book, visit the Mariner's Museum.|
Today the river is silent, save for the keen of an osprey or the prehistoric squawk of a blue heron. Twisting and turning, the river carries a powerful current that drops the water as much as four feet on a falling tide. The riverscape is a layered mosaic. Floating meadows of yellow pond lilies border broad fields of reeds and grasses, which give way to a low shoreline topped with mile after mile of oaks and sycamores, maples and sweet gums. It would seem, in all this unmolested solitude, that the river’s busy past could not possibly be real. But traces of it are still here to touch, if you know what to reach for.