Bay Reflections

 Vol. 10, No. 23

June 6-12, 2002

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It’s Another Good Earth-Day
By Albert ‘Abby’ Ybarra

Earth Day has come and gone, and most Bay dwellers are anxious for summer fun to begin. The water park is up and running and family pools have been filled and chemically treated for that perfect balance of chemical swimming water. But activities are planned year round to help us all remember that we have only one earth to live on and to take care of.

Earth Day refreshed that knowledge for me, as I kayaked one of the most beautiful rivers I have had the pleasure to experience. For the second time, I took the time to enjoy the earth by kayaking with a group of like-minded Bay dwellers dedicated to caring for Chesapeake Bay

A year ago, I hardly knew our Bay.

This year Don Baugh, of the Save-the-Bay-Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and Bay writer and friend Tom Horton planned one of their many trips down the Pokomoke River. The common accepted version of the Pocomoke’s Native American name is Slow Black River. Whatever the name, it remains one of the greatest assets of the Eastern Shore and the Bay watershed. The Pokomoke still hugs the banks where many ancient cypress trees maintain their presence, giving the river its dark color and a prime habitat exploding with wildlife.

Spring is the time of year when nature does not do things in a shy way. The river is teeming with spawning fish, nesting birds, singing birds, sunbathing turtles, water snakes. That time of year, native wildlife shares the river’s bounty with migratory birds from as far south as Costa Rica. I saw up close how thousands upon thousands of birds need the expansive undeveloped forest along the banks to maintain their existence.

The Pocomoke ends near the southern tip of the Eastern Shore, emptying into the Bay. The life upstream resembles a time long past to those lucky enough to travel by kayak or canoe to see it.

We put in on the river above the town of Snow Hill at Porters Crossing. Once off the road and into the river, I could sense the time when Native Americans traveled their daily routes to and from villages.

A few hours down river, we tied up at Snow Hill for lunch. After some 14 miles of kayaking, we set up camp in the Milburne State Park Landing with its modern conveniences: running water and a soda machine. Who needs Club Med when you have places like the Pokomoke River?

Day two was a going to be the longest day with 17 miles to cover. We stopped in the river town of Pokomoke City, one more of the great Eastern Shore treasures. Continuing the path of Wonderful Black River with its many meandering bends, we made our campground on a bank with a million-dollar view, near a town called Shelltown.

Such small forays out into the Bay allow us to appreciate what a wonderful place this state can be as well as learn about the Bay ecosystem. Some of the oldest habitats in the state have not changed even as others have been altered forever. Feeling blessed in my new state that I was able to take the time to meet the Bay up close and personal, I promised the Bay to make every day my celebration of Earth Day. Don’t miss your chance to enjoy the Bay and its many feeding rivers.

The weeks ahead offer lots of ways to get to know your Bay on foot and by water. This week, join Sen. Bernie Fowler’s original wade-in on the Patuxent River, or join in-his-footsteps wade-ins in Annapolis and at Herrington Harbour South. Next week, plan to join the Patuxent River Sojourn. For details, see 8 Days a Week.

Copyright 2002
Bay Weekly