Chesapeake Requiem

Tangier Island is small island in the middle of Chesapeake Bay.  The Island settled in the eighteenth-century has become dependent on harvesting blue crabs and oysters from the Chesapeake Bay as a means for its small residential population to make a living.  Tangier Island is a place that was maintained for a multitude of reason.  The ecosystem allowed for one of the best harvests of the Chesapeake, even through red algae discouraged the crabs from the pots.  The excessive algae created extra maintenance for the crabbers.  

The ecology surrounding the island has been shifting.  The changing ecosystem has been notable even sometimes pointed to as heavens hand having a say at times such as the boarding house was that had “pines and all, carried into the bay.” With the seasons and tides changing the ecology resulting from a sinking island may be making it harder for those who make a living of these runs of crabs.  With the island’s shores changing by as many as 8 inches pointed out in Sugar Tom’s book this shows how much it changed and how fast it changes now as both melting glaciers and erosion pull places away.  There are times when James “Ooker” Eskridge makes his opinion known, which is it’s not so important to save the humans as it is to save the birds. There is a choice that will have to be made on the value of place along shorelines and whether tides and such elemental forces can be fought.

Social elements have also helped shape the island including the gatherings Joshua Thomas inspired the food caught in crabbers’ pots.  This is also true now as jobs and education pull away a larger portion of graduates from the island as the hard work of the fathers becomes less lucrative for more work as the crabs’ runs decrease.  Some of these also allow to map how the island has changed such as gathering places getting swallowed by the bay and where once land had been there now lie marshes or are even submerged.  Being on an island also makes privacy vanish as everyone knows others gossip, past, and even has one graduate guessing at their peers’ futures.

With the decline in the overall ecology it is interesting to see how and where harvest are done and what is affecting the fisherman’s struggle to maintain their livelihood.  The weather is a recurring factor affecting the waterman of Tangier Island and so are problem affecting the mainland.  Tangier is supposed to be a throwback to earlier centuries with a large interest in religion but in contrast also seem to have slight drug problem sometimes resulting in domestic abuse.  This Norman Rockwellesque environment is inviting but deceiving but deceiving in many ways.  Over time Tangiermen have come to see themselves as an anointed people, protected by the power of prayer. And while fiercely independent as individuals, as a group they’ve tended to place their biggest problems in God’s hands.  The tightknit religious community has torn apart resulting in church schism. 

One of the surprising things in the book was the support of and for Donald Trump during the 2016 election.  Trump has vowed to save the sinking Island during his presidential campaign.  Trump for President signs filled the island. 

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