Unspeakable Treasure – Storytelling from The Eastern Shore of Virginia

I clearly remember my first experience of people speaking a different language; it’s the exact date that escapes me. I was a youngster playing Pee Wee baseball during the sadly too brief summer months at the time. Our little town was able to get enough boys together for a team, we weren’t at the top of the league and we weren’t at the bottom of the league. Truth be told we probably wouldn’t know our standing anyway nor did we particularly care; we were just a bunch of kids dressed in cool uniforms trying to say the right things out loud while privately hoping that the ball was hit somewhere else.

Then one summer things changed. A farmer in the area hired some migrant workers to work in his fields, a family from Mexico, two of which were boys of the appropriate age to be on our team. And they were good! One was a shortstop, the other was a pitcher, they immediately improved the caliber of our team. We found the confidence to hope that the ball WAS hit to me and not to someone else, to contribute to the team in ways beyond uttering correct words at correct times (‘hey batter batter batter batter. hey batter batter. hey batter. SWING’). Feeding on the talents of our new team members and the fresh confidence in ourselves, we starting winning more games than we lost.

They lived in town; the farmer owned a trailer house that was large enough to accommodate the family of workers. One day while riding my bike near the area where they lived, I heard music and laughter and the sounds of joy. Too young to know what ‘intruding’ meant, I altered course, heading towards the sounds of the celebration. As I approached, my two teammates recognized me and called out, beckoning me to join their fiesta. And that is when it happened: The joyous sounds of other people speaking a language I did not understand.

But it didn’t really matter, sure the individual words didn’t resonate but the meaning was clear: Welcome to our house, make yourself comfortable, please enjoy some food and some music and our company. The story was told without deep dive examination of the individual facts contained within.

And such it is with The Eastern Shore: This demure mistress has story and meaning running deep but the narrative of the Day to Day is set in a dialect not yet identifiable. The allure of the unknown, perhaps that is the story. Perhaps it is not. But the Call of the Fiesta beckons, I will continue to heed, allowing the story to unravel itself, pacing determined by the teller and not the relayer.

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