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Vanishing Islands

scattered population of the island is only about 64 souls, including weekenders. Having spent a childhood being eaten alive by blackflies and mosquitoes, I’m not anxious to repeat the experience. But the islanders seem to, if not love it, at least endure it for the beauty and isolation of the island. Cross over the bridge, and you’re in the sparse village of Elliott’s Island. Once you move here, you are automatically a member of the Volunteer Fire Department, and every resident has a key to the firehouse. De Harrison, whose parents Bill and Betty were friends of mine, has opened an old store on weekends. It’s her retirement project. While she doesn’t sell milk and bread, what De has is a wonderland of antiques, junk, odds-and-ends and all kinds of treasures called the Upper Store. People are starting to come out to the store as a destination, after they’ve seen the Harriet Tubman Visitor Center and toured Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. I’m sure, as they brush the mosquitoes and flies off their faces, they wonder how anyone could live out here. And yet people do, and love it. I’m going to visit one of my friends who wouldn’t live anywhere else. Head on past Miss Nora’s Store, once the subject of a famous PBS documentary but now closed for years, Miss Nora Foxwell having gone to her eternal rest, but immor-

and you’ll wave. But today, I see no one, just the hunting lodges boarded up for the season, and the sad deserted places on the bits of high ground. There used to be islands out on the marsh ~ Green’s Island, Grey’s Island, Snake Island. People lived out there, wresting a living from the water. But those islands have sunk, too, and not even the skeletons of abandoned houses are there anymore. After a bit more driving, civilization begins to reappear: a new house, I am told, built by weekenders in the style of Key West bungalows. It doesn’t look like any house I’ve ever seen in the Keys, but be that as it may. It’s not that it’s done well or poorly, it’s that it’s done at all out here that is cause for comment. You see, in the summer, if you stopped in the middle of this marsh and got out of your car, you’d be covered in biting f lies and hungry mosquitoes. Literally covered. I made this mistake once, and only once. That’s probably why the

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Profile for Tidewater Times

June 2018 ttimes web magazine  

Tidewater Times June 2018

June 2018 ttimes web magazine  

Tidewater Times June 2018