COMMENTARY: Eastern Shore’s Cool/Fiery Pulse of Life

Cape Charles Wave

June 26, 2013

I have learned in my life that we will protect fiercely whatever it is we love.

And love takes time. It requires an intimacy that is woven between people and life of all sorts, whether fish or flowers, elusive doodlebugs or old forest trees. What is necessary is this: that we take time to stand still and pay attention to the life around us as if it truly matters.

Because it does.

Here, on Virginia’s Eastern shore, life is teeming. Wild turkeys thunder out of the dry thickets of wheat when I walk down the sandy road in the early morning light. A young eagle sits high on the top of a loblolly pine whose center trunk was snapped by a runaway wind. Fastening my gaze on his mustard-colored feet with the curled javelin tips, I think: it may take time for his head to go white but his feet are ready and set.

All day and every day, something big is happening on the Shore. In Red Bank, a frantic mockingbird jumps up and down on the back of a black snake arching and swerving across the road. I reach for my camera but am so mesmerized by the utter bravery of the bird, I miss the shot.

Days later, while wading through the grass at Savage Neck, I spot a blue-colored hornet diving into one of his own kind on a swaying Queen Anne’s lace. Is this a petaled battlefield between the boys or a drunken dive into the sweet elixir of spring passion?

Waiting and watching, I’m certain. Hornet perfume must be very strong.

There are people for whom the land and sea are alive. I am one. And though I have been on your Shore for just a month, it is evident to me there are many others who feel the alternatively cool and fiery pulse of life in this place.


I am not a scientist or expert of any sort. I do not keep lists of the birds I see or research the woody preferences of beavers as they meticulously carve the base of a tree till it teeters and falls. For the sake of naming, you could say I’m a poet-type swept up by the mystery of life and frequently awestruck by Life’s insistence, cleverness, frugality, and when required, surrender.

I cried underwater the first time I saw the synchronized dance of a school of Blue Tang and likewise, when I stood inches away from a cluster, a thousand strong, of vibrating Monarchs deep in the forest of Central Mexico.

But the starlings, or rather my fascination with them, is the most telling.

Twenty-five years ago when I was going through an especially difficult time, I pulled my car off the road to watch the aerial ballet of English Starlings in an autumn sky. Later that morning, I told a woman, who was helping me, how magical it was to see scores of black-winged-bodies, turning in unison as though guided by an invisible conductor. She said, “Do you have any idea how few people notice these birds much less park their cars to watch?”

I nodded my head no. “Well, I do,” she answered. “Very few. Let’s start with your ability to feel wonder.”

Yes, let’s.

Whatever we love, we will protect, fiercely. The stirring begins in the arms of wonder.

I point to the gliding and pumping wings over the diamond-lit water. You point to the jumping and plunging silver spoons in the rumbling sea.

What will we do with the love, just at the edge of our fingertips?

On this day, I’ll write a few words and turn a bit of clay into a conch shell I found on Cobb Island on Sunday.

And you? What will you do? What’s inside of you that can’t wait another second to breathe and bustle into the wild and beautiful world?

(Photos by Sher Horosko)

(Photos by Sher Horosko)

Sher Horosko’s commentary is an occasional Wednesday feature of the Wave. A recent transplant to the Eastern Shore, Sher writes on nature and spirituality at



3 Responses to “COMMENTARY: Eastern Shore’s Cool/Fiery Pulse of Life”

  1. Bruce Lindeman on June 26th, 2013 12:15 pm


  2. Margaret Kime on June 26th, 2013 10:28 pm

    Lovely, Sher! To me what you describe feels like a kind of breathing. The steady in, out, dip and sway of a flock of birds, the hum from an insect’s beating wings, and the gentle ripple of water against the shore both reminds one of life and synchronizes the soul to its steady rhythm. It makes me want to step outside and drench myself in the summer storm that’s rolling through right now.

  3. Anne Hallerman on June 27th, 2013 12:24 am

    Thank you, Sher, for gracing our Shore with your words and your imagery, and for reminding us to pause and give thanks for the beauty that surrounds us here.