Wednesday, August 12, 2009

August 9, 2009 - Myles Standish Homestead Site, Duxbury, Massachusetts

In the 1630s, once the Plimoth settlement was well established, the military leader of the colony decided to move on. Myles Standish picked out a good piece of land, overlooking Kingston Bay, with an unfailing spring down a short slope from the home site. He would help found the town of Duxbury, named for his ancestral family home.

The outline of the house is still there, although the structure is now gone. Long gone. There's a big rock with engraved words telling of the site's past. But as much as the site has changed, much has remained the same.

The view from the front door must have been spectacular. He would have kept the bluff in front of the house cleared of trees, which would have given him and his family a stunning view out to Manomet, into the harbor, with the sandy point of Plymouth Beach in the foreground. His wife Rose didn't survive the first winter, but he married a woman named Barbara who arrived in 1623 on the Anne, and together they had seven children.

That view, of course is still there. Nearly four hundred years have gone by since his arrival on this little piece of salt-encrusted, oceanside earth. Out on the mudflats, the same flats he overlooked, today were hundreds of shorebirds. They're such creatures of habit, following the same migratory patterns taught to them by their parents, who learned them from their parents. Is it possible that some of the short-billed dowitchers we saw today are themselves descendants of the same birds that he saw all those years ago?

The Mayflower Descendants have done some amazing things with genealogy, but I'd like to see them figure that one out.

Time: 33 minutes.

New species: None.

Stranger hellos: 3 (501).

What else is happening: led "Pilgrims, Plovers and Pancakes" for Mass Audubon; received my copy of the September issue of Northeast Boating, with my article on ospreys in it; dinner with Michelle's parents.

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