When I lived on Reed Creek and spent countless hours on the back porch staring across the creek and wondering how I'd gotten so bloody lucky to live in such a place, however temporarily, I came to think of the Chester River as the road I lived on. Yes, my mail went to Easy Lane, a little dirt path off Tilghman Neck Road, off Route 18 just north of Queenstown. But after being there awhile it felt as though I lived on the Chester River, or rather on a quiet cul-de-sac just off the Chester.
I couldn't actually see the river from my house; Tilghman Neck juts across the mouth of the creek to block the view, especially at low tide. But I could see sailboats gliding past in the distance-the top two-thirds of them, anyway. There were days, especially Saturdays and Sundays in the spring and fall, when the parade of sail was virtually endless. At nighttime I could see anchor lights twinkling from the far side of the Chester, in the coves and crannies of Langford Creek. And some of the boats, those who knew where to zig and where to zag, came into Reed Creek, into my backyard, to hunker down for the night or the weekend or the week.
So it was that I came to think of myself as living off the Chester, not off Tilghman Neck Road, where there were really only cornfields and woods and embowered little split-foyers that you might not see at all if it weren't for the roadside mailboxes. No, on Reed Creek the world spread out before me due north, in the direction of the Chester.
Given all that, I can only guess at how much more deeply rooted such a perspective must be for someone who grew up on the river-as did Robert Whitehill, author of "A Chester River Recon" in this issue.
"As a 'from-here,' I've been out on the Chester in every season. I've sailed log canoes on it, fished it, landed on it from the air and even crossed it on skates," he writes, adding that because of conservation efforts and families who have resisted the temptation to sell off parcels of riverfront land, the Chester still looks much like it did when he was young. From there he takes us on a charming but clear-eyed tour of the river, showing us everything from oyster reef restoration work above the Corsica River to the spot on Langford Creek where he and his sister, years ago, capsized their sailing canoe and matter-of-factly swam it ashore.
In fact, had I been around in those days (Whitehill himself points out that his Kent School diploma is printed on papyrus), I might very well have seen that oversized sail suddenly disappear. Because, no doubt, on a bright breezy day like that I would have been out on the porch, looking north, watching the Chester and the world go by.