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by Helen Chappell I just passed a landmark birthday, and the life I saw for myself has not come to pass. This should surprise no one, including me. I only remembered it because an old friend reminded me what my plan had been when I was a whole lot younger and dumber than I am now. Well, whether or not I’m as dumb as I was as a kid is debatable, but here is my childhood dream. I planned to retire to a trailer that used to exist on the Hoopersville side of the Hoopers Island Bridge. It perched between the way and the inlet, precariously on the eroding marsh. My idea was that I would become a hermit and live in that trailer. People who had heard of my aged wisdom would come from far and wide, knocking on my door. “Oh, tell me, Wise One, what is the true meaning of life?” They would ask. I’d look up from my soap operas and shout through the closed door, “No deposit, no return!” And that would have been my answer. As an answer to the true meaning of life, I still don’t think it’s a bad one. The soaps I planned to watch in my retirement are long gone, and so is that trailer, which I think fi-

nally washed away in Isabel. Hoopers Island, Upper, Middle and most of Lower, are still more or less there, but are slowly and inexorably eroding away. The gunning shore we had when I was a kid is also long gone, along with Swan Island, which gave it its name. After being remodeled by a new gunning club, it burned to the ground, and the land around it is mostly marsh, if it’s anything at all. So, as the saying goes, make plans and God laughs. I still get down there every once in a while to go to Old Salty’s, but the only constant out on the marsh is the mosquitoes. I understand they spray for them now, which at least keeps them down to a mere pest, instead of the horror they were when I was a kid. At our farm on Ross Neck, mosquitoes were a fact of life, and one I 9

July 2017 ttimes web magazine  

Tidewater Times July 2017

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