I woke up in the Chesapeake Bay island village of Tylerton yesterday and heard nothing but the sound of marsh grass rustling outside my bedroom window.
There are no cars or trucks in this community of 36 wooden clapboard houses and a dozen crabbing boats, and so no need for streets. Instead, the town on Smith Island has shady walking paths between its homes and storm-battered piers. And it has silence.
At sunset, I paddled a canoe around the harbor, and saw dozens of thumb-sized heads poking from the glassy purple water. They were diamondback terrapin, apparently looking around to see if they finally had the place to themselves. A squadron of seven pelicans soared overhead. The turtles vanished under the water.
The town offers a glimpse at what life would be like without traffic, chain stores, strip malls or fast food. The village’s one shop, the Drum Point Market, offers credit the 19th century way. Behind the counter is a bin with spiral-bound notebooks, each with the name of a local resident on the cover. When people come in to buy a half-pound of hamburger or a dozen nails, the manager carefully writes the amount they owe in the book and folks pay when they can.