Monday, May 18, 2009

The Demise of Gwynn's Island: Part 1

The picture above was taken last summer off of Gwynn's Island, looking towards Deltaville. Oh, what I wouldn't give to be sitting at the end of that dock right now with no cares in the world. And no ants.

Speaking of Gwynn's Island, I am pleased to share another piece written by Mathews Mountain Man (aka MMM in the comments section). Here he shares some theories on how and why Gwynn's Island is doomed. I figure there's no more appropriate topic to kick off the work week than with doom and gloom. But let me stop talking now so you can read some real writing and not rambling nonsense.

Gwynn’s Island: The Final Chapter
by Mathews Mountain Man

"... if Mother Nature doesn’t wash her away in some turbulent frenzy, the steady rising tide of climate change will sink her, she will drift away (yeah, right), or, according to one seer she will disappear into a giant sink hole that is in the early stages of development at the intersection of Old Ferry Road and the Bay Haven Drives.

Regardless of the method, Gwynn’s Island is doomed.

Here’s the evidence:

Scenario I

James A. Michener wrote epics that begin with tectonic plates smashing against one another or creeping glaciers slowly carving relief into the face of the earth to make way for great bodies of water like the Chesapeake Bay. He was considered an expert in evolutionary global geography. (He was?)

In his book Chesapeake, Michener meticulously detailed the many overlapping cycles of life that characterize the Chesapeake Bay. The disappearance of Devon Island and Rosalind’s Revenge represented the end of one such cycle. Devon Island was located on the eastern side of the Bay. On calm days the island was persistently licked away by the Bay waters; when a hungry storm with a northwesterly wind drifted across the Bay, the shoreline was bitten away in chunks. Michener chronicled the consumption of the island, not in one paragraph, page or chapter, but bit by bit, throughout the entirety of the book – the first generation of characters did not know what the final generation would witness.

On the last page of Chesapeake he wrote:

...On the spot where the finest mansion [Rosalind’s Revenge] on the Eastern Shore had offered its stately silhouette, nothing was visible. The final storm which overtakes all existence had struck: that relentless erosion which wears down even mountains had completed its work. Devon Island and all that pertained to it was gone.
Incessant waves which eleven thousand years ago had delivered detritus to this spot, causing and island to be born, had come back to retrieve their loan.... (James A. Michener, Chesapeake, pp. 865.)

Michener got it right, and to apply his certitude to other islands in the Chesapeake is to know that Gwynn’s Island will one day disappear.

My first observation of Mother Nature’s intentions for Gwynn’s Island occurred in 1969. The day after a fierce storm that swept over the island, several of my cousins and I walked south along the beach from Tin Can Alley. Before that day any healthy soul with mild ambition could walk the mile-and-a-half that led to the Hole-In-The-Wall; but, as we soon discovered, the storm that passed through only 24-hours earlier had washed out a small section of the peninsula. Everyone who wandered though the freshly cut, 20 foot wide, ankle-deep channel saw that Gwynn’s Island’s right leg had been severed from her body; and, each one of us has lived to see that that thin film of water passing out of Milford Haven and into the Bay has become a navigable waterway – 1000 feet across.

Other examples include the waters flowing in and out of Hill’s Bay that threaten to cut-off the island’s other leg. Those waters splash and spray against the fragile highway that squeezes through a narrow strip of land along the Island’s western shore. And, there are the large chunks of land and land-hugging trees that are reclaimed when a hurricane or nor’easter rolls up the Bay.

Slowly, but persistently battered and bruised by Mother Nature, Gwynn’s Island has become much smaller than the island I explored as a child. It’s only a matter of time before she succumbs to another fury of wind and water, unless of course a flood doesn’t creep up and sink her first."


Chesapeake Bay Woman adds nothing of value this:
Stay tuned for the other Gwynn's Island Doomsday scenarios coming your way later this week. Gwynn's Island is on the list of sites we will be visiting during Blog Fest. Hopefully it will not have drifted away, sunk or succombed to a giant sink hole before then.


Grandma J said...

That scenario is so, so sad. If Gwynn's Island's right leg had been as beefy as Grandma J's, nothing could have washed it away.

I can't wait to see the remnants in July.

Mental P Mama said...

So....I should bring a life vest? Seriously, though, it is a sad fact faced by many shoreland communities.

big hair envy said...

Note to Self: Re-read "Chesapeake" before Blog Fest.

Word Ver: lense

Anonymous said...

OK, people, this is weird. I am currently re-reading "Chesapeake" right now. (lest ye think that Mathews natives sit around obsessively, constantly re-reading this novel, I haven't read it in ~8 years)

My mom can remember large stretches of land at her home place that are now long gone.

I hope I am long gone before Gwynn's Island goes.....


Daryl said...

Erosion .... so sad .. I am not sure if I read Chesapeake .. is it required reading or can I crib off BHE?

Word Ver: shmograx

Annie said...

Hi there..a wonderful hope it doesn't wash away for you before your blogfest! Yes, there are islands in the Pacific that are being threatened by rising sea levels...I guess it is nature's evolution really in a way isn't it? Been going on for years and years!

The book sounds interesting...will have to see if I can dig up a copy at the library, though I am going to be running out of time to do all the things I wish to do, before I have to leave!

foolery said...

I have never read a Michener novel (audible gasps emanate from Computerland). My attention span for things I am told to read is criminally short, and only slightly longer for things I want to read. I blame my third grade teacher, because I can.

Daryl: Mrs. Shmograx was my third grade teacher. Small world.

mmm said...

CBW, who is that sitting on the dock - some anonymous soul, I suspect?

Foolery, Michener's not bad, after you get through the first 300 pages. Dostoevsky's better, but only after the first 400 pages.

My word verification is "pothogsm" - a hyphen here, a hyphen there. Not that the description fits anyone I know; but, I know someone that drinks a lot of that Mountain-Valley Coffee - keep that in mind when you read the other "demise" scenarios.

Where ever you are, I hope your day has been as beautiful as the one we've had in the Valley!

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

MMM- Yes, some anonymous soul, really, I have no idea who it is. Let's not try and draw attention to the fact that he didn't know I was taking a picture of him and probably would not like his image all over the internet. Let's just focus on all the positive thoughts his image projects. Relaxation, avoidance and denial.

Ditto what Foolery says about reading. The only books I've been able to muddle through are Jane Austen's, years ago. Can only read when I feel like it, on my terms, which is usually a magazine from the back cover to the front (they put all the best stuff in the very back). Chesapeake was given to me by a friend after I moved from Northern VA. Have never cracked it open once. Too many words.

Shame I'm not intimidated by WRITING too many words....

Oh, and MMM - I'ts colder than a well-digger's &&& here today. FREEZING.

AMN, that is weird, but perhaps you can write us all a book report when you're done? I'll post it up here for free! (She says, praying for another guest post because she's too worn out to write anything. Anymore. Ever.)

Happy Monday to you all.

Anonymous said...

Since I don't have strikethrough, I will put in parentheses the words I "didn't really mean to write".
Looks like you're gonna have to (scrape up enough change) arrange for SLAPWATER to play at (freakfest) BLOGFEST. Your devoted readers sound like they would enjoy ( knocking you down to get to a wine truck, beer truck, AND bartender)socializing. I can't wait to meet ( the one person that will come)everyone!(Satan)Goosetav will be the (pain in my behind)life of the party!!! I'm looking ( for something else to do that weekend) forward to it!! (haha just kidding..)
Baby Sis

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Dear Blogging gods,

Please bestow internet upon those members of the Chesapeake Bay Family who do not have it, including Baby Sis and CB Mother &Father. Currently BAby Sis has to go to the public library to access it and CB Mother has no access whatsoever except for those times when she (comes over and looks at the screen and still makes me read the blog to her) spends a few minutes using my computer.

We really do appreciate their (smart alecky remarks) wit but are not privvy to it since they don't get (out) on here much.

Thank you. CBW

P.S. Thank you, Middle Sis, and we do all look forward to (watching you sidle up to the pinot grigio) seeing you at Blog Fest (Freak Fest was known as the Chesapeake Bay Family Cross Country Trip).

p.p.s. I don't think you can do strikethrough on the comment section either, although quite honestly I've never tried. That would require (doing something different) (stepping out on a limb and taking a risk) the time to test drive the whole thing out.

TSannie said...

Time marches on, and not always in a good way.

Julie said...

As a child, well, for the first 14 years of my life, we would spend our summers with my aunt and her children at Gynns Island in a fantastic beach cottage with a wrap around screened in porch. I am now in my thirties and I am searching for that cottage for nostalgic reasons....

Reading your pages, I am brought back to the long walks on the beach, tin can alley and the wooden jetties that we would jump into the water off of. I loved the peirs and the jelly fish, well not so much the jelly fish! I miss swinging in the hammocks tied between the pine trees and sweet smell of hydrangia....

I wish so much to return. I have children of my own and the only beach they know is Myrtle, as we live in SC, but that is so far different from the beach of my childhood.

Sorry for the rant. I wish to find that beach cottage with no ac and bunk beds in the two rooms on each side of the living and kitchen area! Oh, how I miss it!