Brigadoon on the bay; Making memoriesSomewhere down...


Brigadoon on the bay; Making memories

Somewhere down there near the bay there is a lost village, a Brigadoon. I used to spend a lot of Sunday afternoons poking around the Chesapeake Bay Western Shore country; I enjoyed the gentle beauty of the Southern Maryland countryside, the hamlets, the woodland, coves, ravines, the fenced horse farms, the rolling fields of tobacco growing like Jack's beanstalk from the tiny, lop-eared seedlings set out in the spring of the year. And all the little back roads that twist and wind through the woods where the deer run, past the clearings of isolated farms, in and out of the occasional clusters of dwellings.

On one meandering trip along a two-lane blacktop off state Route 2, the old Solomon's Island Road, I rounded a turn and came on a remarkable little village, no more than seven or eight houses strung out along the road and which, but for the lack of thatched roofs, might have been lifted right out of the Cotswold hills of Britain, little cottages of one or 1 1/2 stories that looked as though they had grown from the soil on which they stood. The dark green shrubs that clustered around the dwellings and hedged the paths that led from front doors to roadway gave off the tangy aroma of boxwood and had the lumpy, close-leafed foliage and thick, twisty trunks and branches of ancient plants. White picket fences that enclosed each yard were pierced by swinging gates, the kind that spring open when unlatched by means of baseball-sized iron counterweights pendant from chains from gate edge to planted posts.

Nothing stirred; no one was in sight. The landscape seemed steeped in some silent siesta. This was the afternoon of one of those perfect summer days. The time was well on toward twilight, and the slanting rays of the westering sun cast long shadows across the land. They created a magic light that suffused everything with a soft-edged illumination, giving the effect of almost a fairyland scene, a fey, shimmering vision from some other time and place. It was a moment, a sight, that etched itself indelibly on the tablet of memory.

I pulled over onto the side of the road, though there was no other traffic, and stopped awhile to watch. The green lawns, flower beds, low white houses, dark boxwoods, white fences basked in sunlight, silence and peace of the closing day. After a while I started the car and drove on toward home, postponing further exploration for another day.

Since that Sunday afternoon I have tried to find again that little village and re-experience the magic, but the road of memory doesn't lead there anymore. Perhaps I have tried the wrong road. Perhaps the light has been wrong, or the time of day, or my mood. Whatever the case, I have been unable to find again that gap in the curtain through which I once peered; my Brigadoon will not reappear.

Robert Drury lives in Catonsville.

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