On this first day of spring, the Adkins Arboretum sponsored a guided walk exploring the cross section in history and culture that combines the stories of the Underground Railroad and the natural landscape on the Eastern Shore. With its forests, thickets, marshes, rivers and creeks, the Shore’s natural landscape provided an opportunity for hundreds and possibly thousands of slaves to attain freedom. The Arboretum reflects the conditions slaves had to pass through en route to freedom so it serves as a dramatic vista to experience the little known relationship between nature and the route to freedom.
As we spent two peaceful hours walking through the reserve on this sunny day, a seasonal chill moving us along, stories about how the railroad made its freedom runs echoed through the woods. Along the way, as we ambled on paths and over creeks, our able guide, Historian Anthony Cohen, revealed the stories of flights to freedom in an engaging way, vividly helping us understand the intersection between history and nature.
It was a powerful presentation and as Anthony promised it created a tangible sort of reflection on the past for all of us. He’s an outstanding guide and teacher, personably engaging everyone in the group. The lessons were powerful, exactly the way the study of our heritage should be presented in the 21st century. We’ve attended many lectures on the Underground Railroad, but we’ll remember the details of this one for a long time thanks to the way Anthony engaged the audience and his material.
By-the-way, we were pleased with the Arboretum too and we’re going to add it to a place we visit frequently. Check it out if you haven’t already. Also Anthony is conducting two additional tours over the next month or two.
Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve on Maryland’s Eastern Shore dedicated to promoting the appreciation and conservation of the region’s native plants. Four miles of paths along streams, through meadows and native plant gardens, and under the shade of a rich bottomland forest attract nature lovers, gardeners, students and birders. The Arboretum offers programs year-round in ecology, horticulture, and natural history for all ages. The site features over 600 species of native shrubs, trees, wildflowers, and grasses.