“Parts of Delaware Described”


The Delmarva Penisula, the region about which I’m describing in my journal took place in 1980 when I drove there from Pennsylvania, where I’m from.

Immediately, coming upon the eastern shore of America I sensed something mysterious, metaphysical, and mystical about the watery environment seeming in command: histrionic and universal qualities with Aegean and Arcadian components cast brooding shadows on the surroundings-the deepest shadows appearing across the terrain closest to the Atlantic Ocean. The area also reflected its early settlement that began around 1630 when the English, Dutch, Swedes, Germans, Irish, Scots and other groups from Europe settled Delaware.

 When I arrived in the Mid-Atlantic, corn was the theme throughout Kent and Sussex Counties. It was everywhere. Tracts of it intercepted highways, streets, and it was parceled between buildings-residential and commercial. From town to dusty town, proceeding all the way down to the Atlantic coastal beaches, corn was everywhere, a huge agricultural producer. The poultry industry also comprised a large portion of the economy. Other enterprises existed heavily in the region due to the Atlantic Ocean, the Delaware and Chesapeake, inlets, wetlands, lakes and other waterways are plenteous with oysters, crab, fish, lobster that the seafood industry feeds upon. Marinas and beaches are also money makers.

    The Delmarva, Mid-Atlantic region nurtured a marvelous landscape of broad, open fields and sky and solemn woods. You also had in that prolific natural setting, cozy houses, commerce, fuel tanks, water towers, trailer parks, marinas, marshes, the Cape May Ferry, harbors, wetlands, streams, ponds, lakes, rivers, boat docks, motels, hotels, seafood, restaurants, corn fields, beans and barley, wheat and orchards, historic houses, aged-drowning barns and silos. Plus you had irrigation rigs, huge propped-winged praying mantis and mosquitoes.

    Sussex and to almost the same degree, Kent County appeared strapped to an endless, primal, magnanimous horizon profuse in nature, much less so with humans.

    Generally speaking, most of the inhabitants of the Delmarva descended from those early settlers. However, the English had the strongest influence, and it seemed the ‘British’ had stamped the population in character, appearance and soul. The regional form of speech, a distinctive sound known as ‘Eastern Shore’ appeared to reflect southern England, or the ‘Limey’ accent spoken there. (Del’wahr for Delaware; ‘tawrd’ for tired; ‘pawr’ for power; the letter ‘o’ is strongly enunciated and rounded so that the word go comes out ‘gueoo’, and the word store, almost ‘stewr’.) Essentially, the area is thin and changeless with old-fashioned towns with not much going on. That is not to say that the towns don’t have character for they do.

    Even as plain, hard-working, frugal folks filling up their lives with common daily practices, the inhabitants appeared to express remarkable hardiness, and certainly you can’t describe the inhabitants as ‘cheerless.’

    A northern route-scenic part has sprawling, limitless coastal regions, farmland, woods, some sandy beaches and pebbly shores, and wetlands (swamps and bogs in the water darkness appear trapped in a primordial transference) Nevertheless, some of the most stirring natural scenes in Delaware follow a northern tract. 

   Route 9, along the slow-motion Back Bay’s woodsy environs with its astounding sights and sounds is nature at its fullest and best: Wildlife Park, Bombay Hook, Port Mahon, Grass Dale, and Little Creek, wetlands, woods, flowers, fauna, fields-a natural haven. In an area of countryside a darkly-shrouded grassy knoll could represent a location for Don Quixote of La Mancha to at any moment appear on his scrawny horse Docinante, and begin attacking windmills he mistakes for armies.      

      It appears the life that those early settlers brought to the region is revitalized, carried on the wind, reflecting the past with folklore and mystery in the surroundings: in the fishing villages, old original taverns, antiquated manors-Buena Vista is an amazing, grandiloquent seven-teen hundred manor. The experience is even similar with the sight of cattails. 

     This particular inlet is a desolate, ominous place with unremitting silence, and where the stench of death and decay fills the atmosphere.

      It is an evening in spring, the time when the Horseshoe crab comes to the Delaware shores to spawn and die. (The Horseshoe crab is a seafaring creature with a spiked head and a tank-like body and resembles a Viking in armor.) The path to the inlet follows a narrow, dirt road flocked by tall, ink-tipped bulrush and sedge through tall fields of wheat, barley and corn.

    The ancient bodies of the Horseshoe crab cram the inlet’s dark, murky waters and the pebbly shores are crowded with their carcasses. (It is a clamorous event with hundreds swimming, and clamoring to join Horseshoe crab that number in the thousands cluttering the stony beach).

    A frail wooden pier stands a short distance away in the middle of the dark, active, dramatic waters. (The frail wooden pier seems to be a scale for the desertion of life, a helpless structure there in the passive surreal drape covering the environment of the inlet. Inexplicably, the pier site turns my thoughts to shipwrecks, pirates’ coves, coral reefs and even to damask tablecloths). Nevertheless, the fragile pier is imperturbable, a kind of universal resistance standing there, with natural grace affirming it.

   The isolated inlet seems to have journeyed from the moon, the cosmos, or some archaic isle or even Pluto’s Hell to claim this eternal location.

   A spirit of classicism elevates the historical environs of “The Green” through the magnificent, glorious music of Bach, Beethoven, Liszt, Mozart, Schubert and other great classical composers. The atmosphere is almost electric with a renewing, joyousness you experience with the marvelous music filtering into your senses.

    In Dover, Delaware’s Capital, where the first signing of the United States Constitution took place December 7, 1787, it seems a wall of Grace and permanence has partitioned that historic area identified as, “The Greens.” The impact of Dover’s historical inheritance hovers across “The Green,” the seat of Government as a realm of a prevailing light composing Legislative Hall and a State House and other early municipal buildings. In the area amid and the verdant foliage surroundings you have Christ Episcopal Church in Dover, established in 1734, Barratt’s Chapel near Frederica, Delaware, given the title, ‘The Cradle of Methodism’ in America, to name just some of the early ecclesiastical influences.

    Summarizing “The Greens”’ surroundings, you experience a Revolutionary spirit, and as well an Anglican reverence in the atmosphere. You become aware of a ‘Protestant’ adherence bearing down with a sense of calm, reassurance, contentment and high regard for guarded conduct. It seemed the influence of Wasp orthodoxy expanded the atmosphere with a bell-piercing transcendent, classical sentience over “The Greens.”  

    Delaware’s State Seal comprises a sheaf of wheat, an ear of corn and an ox symbolizing early farming. The State Flag of Delaware incorporates the seal’s images along with the date “December 7, 1787,” showing that Delaware was the first state to ratify the United States Constitution.

    The Town Hall, a Colonial structure constituted an honorable, revitalizing force. A Georgian, brick façade, the historic building had accommodated America’s beginnings-it engaged some of the earliest colonialists in discussions establishing America. The Town Hall represented a time-honored historic municipal building as other Corinthian, Ionic structures across America.

    Delaware State College and Wesley College, both located in the city of Dover, stoutly served the state in higher education. In the city of Dover the Agricultural Museum, a large barn-styled building stored and displayed the life of the farming community.

    Located in the obscurity of rural Delaware, the town hall of magnificence and splendor might have surpassed the lot of colonial municipalities reflecting the earliest staging of America. Though moderate in size, the structure had immense bearing and was a stalwart representation of its natural origins. However, beyond the patriotic significance emanating from the town hall, a universal boundary circumscribed it, and massed by darkness, it was a glittering diamond, a small wonder. It was a municipality amassed by darkness, a gem…a glittering diamond.

    A statue of an ink well and quill honors the first state to sign the document ratifying the United States. The ink well and quill, inscribed with, “Dover’s Gift to America,” sits on a promontory in the area of “The Greens”. It symbolizes the freedom and liberty attained when the Colonies signed the Constitution after the long War defeating English rule.

   A sight common on streets, roads and highways in the area presents the solemn dark image of a horse and buggy with an Amish family inside.

    Kent and Sussex Counties back then presented a landscape producing fields, farmland, pasture and woods. Corn was parceled everywhere and you saw the restful countryside scattered with houses and bungalows and displays of nurseries, markets, stores and churches and other sources supplying life.  The area offered celebrations and activities that included: “Dover Days”; ”Punkin’ Chunkin”; “Apple Scrapple”; “The Fifer Peach Festival” “The State Fair”, “Harness Racing” and a tremendous “May Day” celebration.


April 03, 2020 18:19

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Zilla Babbitt
22:44 Apr 15, 2020

Here for the critique circle :). Not going to lie, this was extremely interesting. Now I know Delaware. This seems to be more of an essay than a short story, so perhaps Reedsy wasn't the place to publish. A newspaper or magazine might be more appropriate. My opinion thus dished out, I won't comment on how it's missing a character or dialogue or plot like a short story has to have, since I think this is an essay. You have organization, creativity, introspective, and a way of keeping me engaged as I read. Keep it up!


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Kia Poulson
14:35 Apr 15, 2020

You are so passionate about writing! Continue your good work!


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