Just prior to Christmas last year, I moved into a new home on the waterfront of the Chesapeake Bay. It was a lifetime dream that delivered on many expectations: spectacular sunrises, some interesting storms, boats gliding by, seagulls and osprey as they fly and hunt.

There were also some pleasant surprises, such as numerous songbirds and radically cooler-feeling temperatures on the hottest dog days of August. There were also interesting observations, such as the tides.

Tides are not predictable based upon time alone. The cycle from high tide to low tide is between six and 6 1/2 hours, and from high tide to next high tide a full cycle is between 12 1/4 and 12 1/2 hours. So, high tides or low tides migrate their times from day to day, easily predicted by websites and charts that calculate these based on positions of the sun and moon relative to the earth.

At my home, I can tell if the tide is coming in or going out based on what direction the water is flowing. My favorite is between tides when the water can lie flat — and if this occurs just at sunrise, the reflections are amazing.

My neighbors have been a font of wisdom on topics such as how to prepare for hurricanes, tidal surges, flooding, etc. Sure, in time I’d have acquired that wisdom on my own at great cost. But, they’ve already been down that road and have been happy to help.

It strikes me that going into Thanksgiving, it must have been the same way with the pilgrims and Native Americans. The natives of this land knew all the particulars of living here regarding weather patterns, local foods, seasonal changes, and how to deal with challenges of various insects such a black flies or troubling plants such as poison ivy. It seems natural to want to help. In traveling, this becomes obvious.

Certainly, a change in scenery is a major draw to travel. After all, you can’t see sights like the Grand Canyon or the roar of the ocean surf from your suburban home. You can’t get the small town vibe from the pulsating hustle and bustle of the city.

While we often interact with the locals while traveling as we seek directions, check into a hotel, or ask a passerby for advice on local places to eat, you’ll really get the most out of your trip by learning from the natives about their living experiences in their homeland.

I know the differences in lobsters from chatting with watermen in Maine. I know all about maple syrup from folks in Vermont. I’ve learned about Spanish moss while in South Carolina. I’ve learned much from chatting with locals on my travels, and it helps me to better understand and appreciate the places I visit and to feel more connected. In a sense, your community is your larger home.

Welcome people in, just as the original Thanksgiving welcomed those who came from afar. We are all in this together. Let’s make the best of it!

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