Vol 1 Issue 28
Hot Like Summer
Earlier in the week it had been hot like summer. So when the clouds rolled in late week from the ocean, and the winds picked up, the Outer Banks repaid us for the earlier heat. I never had much interest in the beach as a youth, which was good, since I had no way to get there on my own. No gas money, no hotel money, no car. But fall going into winter? Hmm. Clean breezes, low humidity, empty beach, this is my time of the year.
A week is barely enough time to recover from work stress, but I can’t persuade D to take more–even two weeks is better: the first week for decompression and the second to pretend life is always this slow. The whole month might make a body complacent, so the thought of living year round on the Outer Banks makes me wonder if I’d just slip into unconsciousness without realizing. But I don’t intend to shave the entire seven days we’re here!
Today, sitting in a beach chair watching a high surf pound the sand, D’s wrapped in a blanket against the wind, and I’m wishing I’d brought a jacket. It’s hard to write–too much stimulation–when I’d be better off closing the chapbook and taking a nap to the tune of the ocean. A storm’s been hanging off the coast all week, and the wind’s pushing the waves halfway up the beach, carving away a step in the sand that’s growing daily. Last year the towns along this stretch paid a chunk of change to dredge sand from the ocean to rebuild the beach. Now the ocean is borrowing some of it back.
The Outer Banks are one of those places discussed in the news stories about the warming planet and rising oceans. The house we’re staying at sits on a ridge out of the flood zone, if not out of the wind. When the wind is screaming, the house shakes and the wood creaks. Route 12 running through Duck is a foot or so higher than sea level and sits feet from the Sound. Route 12 is the only north-south road that runs the length of the islands. It would take a massive investment to raise the road and adjacent properties. This won’t end pretty, so it seems.
The Outer Banks north of Cape Lookout are said to sit on a submerged layer of broken rock. Consensus is that the island sand is moving ever closer to the mainland, doing the slowest crawl imaginable. Manmade structures, along with our heavily planted dunes have slowed the progression but haven’t stopped it.
Reading about previous cultures that have fallen into a black hole, the ones we still talk about, like the Greeks and Romans, left their marks in stone. Building for the ages, it would seem. Considering the wood framed houses on the Outer Banks, we won’t be leaving too much for future archeologists to examine. There’s a shipwreck sitting in the sand that gets uncovered in nor’easters time and again; the hull’s wood timbers are enormous–as are the iron spikes. Haven’t seen the shipwreck lately, but it’s still there. I should probably contact the state archeologists and get the name of the ill-fated ship. The year I photographed it there were small signs posted around it, so they know it’s there.
But back to the point, unlike the ruins tourists visit in Italy, after six or so centuries of European building on the dunes here, not a lot will be left once we’re gone. Maybe that’s a good thing–like a myth that this place ever existed.