Jan 12, 2024, 06:26AM

Chicken Little

Climate change, denial and the Chesapeake Bay.

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The other night, for the first time, I checked the tide time and wind direction before I went to sleep. Why? Because I was worried that I might wake up to go to the bathroom and my feet would go from the bed into a body of water. That’s not an exaggeration, that was a real fear, and it won’t be the last time.

It turned out the wind was blowing the other way, so downtown Annapolis got flooded instead of Tilghman Island where I make candles in a waterfront house. I got lucky this time, business owners in Annapolis didn’t. How much longer can those businesses survive when they have to rebuild their entire businesses year after year?

In July, a storm that many here on the island referred to as a tornado (including me, since the 84 mph winds blew the roof off my house) though it was officially ruled otherwise as a “microburst,” or some other bullshit, water filled my sun porch and streamed in through the missing roof, now replaced. The other night during the storm, I had to wrap my TV in plastic because water came in around the chimney; the new roof flashing around the chimney couldn’t withstand wind gusts up to 55 mph.

I rent this house and love it for its mid-century style and breathtaking views of the sunset dropping into the Chesapeake. I’ll stay as long as I can. The rewards outweigh the risks and I don’t keep anything important on the floor; in fact I’m considering raising the furniture on blocks. Delusional? Probably; but I love this place in the way a captain loves her ship. Speaking of boats, the storm the other night wiped one out in front of my house, see the photo above. As a journalist, I feel like I’m documenting the demise of this beautiful island even surrounded by so many who deny it.

Do you know what “ghost forests” are? I do, because I drive past them and they’re terrible: haunting tree cemeteries caused by rising sea levels when salt water kills countless acres of forest. On a nearby island, there are people who can’t leave their homes except by boat at high tide. Coastal graveyards erode human remains into the Chesapeake; I visited one with coffins and gravestones in the water and bones protruding as the waves washed them into the tides.

I’m the girl crying Chicken Little, only it isn’t the sky falling, it’s the water rising. I was talking about it back in a piece I wrote in 2013. I take the photos, post them to What’s Up Tilghman Island Facebook page, and sometimes feel like I’m shouting at a cloud.

There are people who roll their eyes and think, “That crazy bitch is at it again with her gloom and doom,” but that isn’t really it. For me it’s about two things: documentation, and the most important,  appreciating what you have while you still have it, before one day when it’s simply gone.

Follow Mary on Instagram and TikTok.


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