“Chesapeake Requiem”: Blog Post #8

Part Two: The Lord Tells the Water

This section of the book discusses how crabbers can determine the size of their crabs and some of the current policies that are in place for the Bay. Some of the locals that the author, Earl Swift, interviews have an issue with those writing these policies because they aren’t familiar with the area and are usually impractical to implement. One of the chapters discusses the different crabbing areas and where some of the popular spots are. There is also mention of the flooding that does on in the Hampton Roads Area and that the region’s “relative sea level is rising even faster than Tangier’s,” (115) since the population has tapped into underground aquifers for water, thus draining the land. It is predicted that by 2045 that the Bay will rise about two feet, which will put Tangier into more danger than it already is in. This section also includes how the crab population has somewhat decreased which has caused crabbers to go to different locations around the island in search of crabs. The eighth chapter includes how millions of bushels of oysters were pulled up from the Bay in 1884 and that since then the numbers have dropped. Water disputes plagued the 1890s and caused watermen to fight for where their pots were going to go. I thought that the ninth chapter was really interesting because I love eating crab and it is really nice knowing where my crab comes from when I decide to have it. My family and I eat a lot of crab during the summers and it is really easy to tell what is and isn’t Chesapeake Bay crab. I also really liked the emphasis on pot-to-plate. The last two chapters focus on how the winds can affect the fisherman and how there is a constant struggle with finances for those on the island since it is a pricey business.

Part Four: A People Anointed

I found this section to be the most interesting of the three – I honestly never thought that the island would be home to a lot of Trump supporters or be as religious as they are. I think that the part of supporting Trump and him calling one of the islanders was more surprising than anything. This is a very religious community and it doesn’t seem like they would have a drug or alcohol problem, yet they do. In the first section, Swift doesn’t allude to how bad it can get, but this section was really revealing of it. The island’s biggest issue with this, besides going against Christian morals, is that they aren’t sure where it is coming from or who is selling it. There has been the suggestion to put up lights at selling places or to bring in investigators, but none of the islanders are taking the initiative. Swift does talk about how outsiders feel when they are there and that though it is a welcoming community, it does not seem like they want people to stay for long periods of time. It seemed like this with the chapter about the Jewish family – they didn’t feel welcome because of the cross painted on the water tower and no one else in the community found an issue with it.

Part Five: The Sea is Come Up

The first chapter of this section talks about Virginia officials have given the oysters in the Bay a boost by establishing a rotating system on the state’s public rocks. This means that each one gets to rest one to two years between harvests. When he writes about the tastes of the oysters, it made me really want oysters. Now I need to go find some! The next chapter discussed what happened to Jason and Ed Charnock and their boat, the Henrietta C. Though what happened to them was really tragic, I think that this was really important to include because it is something that happens to those on the island. It also shows that some of the men lack the equipment needed to be found in events like this were to happen to them. I was not surprised by how this community got together and went out to look for Ed and Jason despite the weather conditions and that they knew they really needed their help. The last chapter wraps up Swift’s time on the island and how he experienced life there. He writes that the community is starting to struggle since companies are finding other sources for crab and oyster with those sources having better/faster shipping techniques. There is a huge push to have a sea wall built to help protect the land for years to come. I thought that it was interesting that some of the islanders don’t see the sea-levels rising or that there isn’t anything affecting them when it can physically be seen. I definitely want to follow this community now to see what happens over the next few years.

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