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What's in a Name? One Hundred Shores at Dares Beach

NOTE: This is the first, of what will hopefully be many, guest posts on One Hundred Shores. I first met Lisa when I was teaching art fulltime, and we asked her into our school as an artist-in-residence connecting students to real, working artists in our community. She runs her jewelry and mixed-media studio A Mermaid's Harvest out of St. Leonard, in Calvert County. The studio moniker should be the first clue that we have similar interests in cherishing the water. I have one of her prints in my own studio, in fact.

When I first started One Hundred Shores, Lisa was one of the first people who reached out to me with a genuine interest and an endearing story on top. Her memories led me to a greater understanding of this project being one of interconnectedness, and that it was a journey worth pursuing.

I'm happy to be able to share her story of Dare's Beach. She writes about change, and a lot of what she remembers likely holds true for so many of us- wherever we found ourselves on the shore. Replace the clay cliffs of Calvert County with endless acres of muck, and it's my own experience, in fact.

I hope you'll approach her tale of change with an appreciation for the tales we all weave into this tapestry of the Chesapeake. You can find her handmade jewelry on her etsy shop, and follow her work online on facebook and on IG at @amermaidsharvest Want to contribute your own story? Please reach out

On the Shore at Dares Beach, from Lisa Tettimer

When I saw the One Hundred Shores project of Eric from Bay Fibers Studio, it took me back to my youth. I got really excited about having a t-shirt dyed with water from the shoreline where I grew up. I am not a native of Calvert County but my family moved here when I was five years old. My parents made our home in the community of Dares Beach. I remember walking to the beach holding my mothers hand for the first time. It was a downhill walk to what was called first beach. The beach entrance was a sandy pathway between a home and a cliff side that opened up to a wide expanse of beach shoreline. It was sunny, warm and the smell of salt was in the air. I was in awe even at the tender age of five.

As I got older, I spent most of my time at the beach with friends. We were raised free range. Neighbors watched over us as their own. The children of this small tight knit neighborhood respected adults, property, and the bay. My bare feet got calloused and sometimes felt blistered walking the paved roads to the beach, because I dare not trespass into someone's yard to cool my feet. The Red Cross sent instructors to our beachfront community to teach the neighborhood children how to swim in the bay. The bay’s water ran through our veins.

In my tweens and teens the beach and an adjacent marsh was the hangout. Dirt bikes raced up and down the shoreline. One friend could do handsprings like nobody else, eight or ten flips in a row. Maybe more. Skiffs took me exploring the twists and turns of Parker’s Creek due south of Dares Beach. Warm sunny breeze against my face. A bobby pin tucked in my hair made a replacement cotter pin for the small motor when it hit a rock in the shallow waters. My best friend and I would wait for high tides to slide down a clay covered cliff into the water below. Rocks were dodged and bikinis ruined. It was a blast. Other high tides that came with rough water from storms cut a bank into the shoreline. Wendy and I would run from the furtherest side of the shore to flip into the waters edge. I think I mostly landed on my bum but the sand was soft from being churned up and unsettled. When the sea-nettles made their debut every kind of attempt was made to swim but neither rubbing sand on the stings nor rubbing down our bodies in Vaseline to repel the stings could keep them at bay. (No pun intended). Time was then spent beach walking, sunbathing and shark tooth hunting. We watched dolphins and ships make their way up and down the bay.

Through the years the shore got narrower and narrower. Jetty’s were built with rocks to help ease the erosion that was quickly occurring. The clay bank we once slid down into the water was bulkheaded. As the years passed the entire shoreline of the Dares Beach community has been bulkheaded. The boat ramp remains giving boaters access to the water. When Eric asked me where to collect the water for my t-shirt I said, “Directly off shore from the A-frame home” since I didn’t have an address or coordinates to share with him. That is where Wendy and I would do flips into the water.

I can’t think of a worse thing to happen, and happen so quickly to the center of such wonderful childhood memories. In a Google search I found this reason for the fast changing shoreline. “Bay waters are rising due to climate change and land subsidence. This combination increases the relative rate of sea level rise in the region: during the last century, the relative sea level has risen approximately one foot in the Chesapeake, nearly twice the global average.”

The only "beach" left is now north of Dare's Beach's northern most bulkhead

Some homes are actually built on lots that are below sea level in the lower part of Dares Beach. Changes have been made to water and sewer lines to protect property there from the rising waters and to protect the bay from their sewer. Along with global warming the bay has been victim to pollution of all types. Where there was once heavy deposits of sea weed, I saw it completely disappear during my childhood. I remember wondering where it all went. Great strides have been made to clean up the bay but more has to be done. We cannot sit idly by to let the gains made go backwards through deregulation. Caring is the first step in making a difference.

The changes I’ve seen in my lifetime have been both good and bad. The Chesapeake Bay is the largest and one of the most beautiful estuaries in our our country. Rich in beautiful shorelines, animal life, and fossilized sea life. I feel blessed to have been raised in part by the Chesapeake Bay.

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