Smith Island – “land & water & people & time”

I LOVED visiting Smith Island yesterday. As Maryland’s only inhabited offshore island, this place is “waterlocked”. We went with my parents, who expected an easier boat ride than the one they got. Dad sat down at the stern on a  plastic lawn chair, and once we got going – the ride was pretty rough – there was no way he could get up without sliding and falling all over the deck. At 80, there’s no need to push something like that, so he stayed put. Got drenched, but didn’t give a “thumb’s down” once, God love him.

Mom, on the other hand, took no such chances. She lodged herself in the only corner she could find. Thumbs were down, down, down and there was lots of praying going on…”yikes yikes yikes”….

But once we got on the island, things got better. We went to Ewell (pronounced “you’ll”) which is the island’s largest town with two restaurants, a museum, the school (K-6th, older kids take a school boat to and from the mainland every day – how cool is that?) and the fire department. Like any other community in America, homeland security money is evident here. The visitor guide lists what you WON’T find on Smith Island: sidewalks, beaches, convenience stores, boat rentals, movie theaters, liquor stores, bars, fast food, boutiques, amusement parks, laundromats or taxi cabs”. And indeed – we saw none of those. And who needs ’em? What I did see was beautiful marshes, long water views, terrific friendly islanders, boats and weathered, picturesque family-owned soft crab shedding shanties.

We walked around, watched a great video in the museum, ate crabcakes and softshell crabs and of course – Smith Island Cake – how do they keep 11 layers from sliding all over???

The marsh, once again – is my favorite part. I love the smell, the colors, the salt. Here’s an interesting tidbit, taken directly from visitsmithisland.com – “The marsh often appears deceivingly safe to cross by foot. Trying to do so is not recommended. If you become entrapped in marsh mud, lie on your back, using your elbows and hands to work your way backward to solid footing.”   Good to know…

One islander on the boat was filled with history and stories about Smith Island – said that when John Wilkes Booth shot Abraham Lincoln, the first thing they did was shut down boat service to Smith Island, because the authorities KNEW it had to be a Smith Islander who did it……. I also asked a few locals about Tom Horton’s fantastic book “An Island Out of Time” that he wrote after moving to Smith Island with his wife and kids for two years, back in the 90s. The response I got was that some “didn’t take too kindly” to the book, because it wasn’t 100% historically accurate. But if it weren’t for that book, which I loved – I never would have known to visit Smith Island, and probably wouldn’t have appreciated my visit nearly as much as I did. It’s wonderful to know that places like this still exist in our consumption-driven, shopping mall suburban, money-obsessed, keeping up with the Joneses American world.

I’m going back. It was terrific.

~ by kbosin on September 23, 2010.

3 Responses to “Smith Island – “land & water & people & time””

  1. Sounds like a great day, I want to go there next time I visit, but definitely want to read the book first.

  2. A school boat! maybe I would have gone to school more often and not hated it so if I had had a school boat! And then there is that cake!!

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