Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Leonardtown, Maryland and the Art of Quiet


Leonardtown, Maryland is a very small town sitting on northern shores of Breton Bay, an inlet from the larger Chesapeake Bay and about 50 miles south of Washington, D.C., yet light years away.  After a very early morning taking pictures of a lighthouse at Point Lookout State Park, it was time for breakfast.  I wanted to stop in Leonardtown because I read about a little park the city built along the bay and wanted to check it out.  Read on.

Leonardtown is typical of many small towns in Maryland and grew outward from a central town square.  On this morning is was pretty deserted, except for a few people gathered at a small restaurant. 

Many small towns memorialize war dead with statues, monuments or plaques, but this one was unique and I have not seen anything like it anywhere else, at least not yet.  These plaques honor the war dead of St. Mary's County from World War II, Korea and  The Viet Nam War.  Oddly, the Global War on Terrorism plaque does not distinguish where those KIA were killed.  Was it Afghanistan, Iraq, or somewhere else?  I think this is a disservice to their memory.   I think the plaque is a good idea, but should go the extra mile and distinguish where their county's dead paid with their life.   

A quaint little French restaurant just off the town square.  

Ye Olde Towne Cafe is one of those places frequented by locals and whenever someone not from the area walks in, all heads turn to look, take you in, then resume talking among themselves.  The window said "Yum Yum Breakfast Buffet."  It was just the kind of place I was looking for.  A great breakfast at a great price, and the coffee was bold and dark.  

About three blocks from the cafe is the little park I was looking for.  Leonardtown doesn't seem to have much in the way of drawing people to town, but capitalized on its best feature:  The view at the bay.  More communities should be so lucky as to have planners who invest in their own town.  This one clearly did.  

The very first thing you notice after shutting your car off and walking toward the water is the quiet.  This isn't the unsettling quiet you sometimes hear when people stop what they're doing, but a very peaceful, natural quiet.  There are no crossroads nearby so traffic is not an issue.  There is one road in and out of this fantastic little park, that's it.   

I was reminded of Otis Redding's song "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay" as I strolled along the brick and wood walking paths, looking out the water which was blue with the reflected sky and fall colored trees.  Again, there was that quiet.  

I sat down on a bench and closed my eyes.  It must have been 15 minutes or more before I heard another sound generated by humans, and that was the closing car door of someone in the distant parking lot arriving at the park.  

As I walked around the dock I spotted this rose lying on one of the benches and I took a picture of it where it lay.  I imagined it was left there the night before, perhaps by young lovers who came to the park to look out over moonlit water.  I don't know, but I could certainly understand if they did. Kids growing up in this town will grow up, move away and remember this wonderfully quiet little park on Breton Bay and get homesick.  Well, if they are especially lucky they will. 


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