I was still in the Air Force when we moved to Port Tobacco. After that came two other careers each of which required me to spend the vast majority of my time and attention elsewhere. The Port Tobacco River was a place to go boating on or to dine beside. I paid attention to old tobacco barns but not much else. It was the blur that slid by my car windows in the wee hours of the morning or at dusk as I negotiated the increasingly crowded roadways between home and work. We had a boat that we used to tour up and down the river with friends and to ski behind. We wondered how safe the water really was when our eyes burned when we climbed back in the boat and the water tasted funny when we swallowed it, but that was about it. I used herbicides and fertilizer way too much in my attempt to have a lawn like I thought I should instead of what nature seemed to have in mind. Even though I considered myself to be environmentally conscious, I was for the most part oblivious to the health of the land and the water where I lived. I suspect a good many people living here themselves caught in that same cycle of property, work, family, sports, and entertainment that leaves little time for the actual attention to the stewardship of our watershed.
When my wife retired in 2001, she immediately began studying to become a Maryland Master Gardener. Along the way she joined the fledgling Port Tobacco River Conservancy and got involved in testing for bacteria in the water within the watershed on a reguular basis. I followed. She and I visited sites all over the watershed from Waldorf to Port Tobacco. We were ultimately involved in water testing in a whole variety of forms for almost a decade. A some point I realized that I might be able to make a different kind of contribution—a contribution that might utilize my recently reclaimed interest in art and help others understand this place where we live more deeply. By that time, I had painted the Legend of the Blue Dog. Could I help in the restoration of the Port Tobacco River by painting scenes from the river and its surroundings in the mid-1700s before the river silted in and Port Tobacco slid into the backwaters of the economic and political life of the new United States? I decided to try. This book tells the story of my journey toward that goal through the paintings I have completed to date.
I have included one other painting. It is simply entitled "Homeless." It emerged from listening to people live within the Port Tobacco River watershed, but who have no place to call home.