By Dave Coulter
Just a week ago we were vacationing on the barrier islands along the coast of North Carolina. Here I was all ready to write about water. The joy of water in the various forms that it was presented to us: in the ocean, in the sound, and even in the hotel pool. This was a new destination for E and I, and we enjoyed it immensely. It was difficult not to fantasize about living in such beauty.
Hurricane Irene is now providing a most dramatic wake up call just as I’m putting away my swim trunks and flip-flops. Her fury is surely editing many lives at the moment, and so in that spirit I will edit my intended watery musings. I wanted to write about water and nature, but lately I’ve been thinking about the people and animals that we met in our travels.
The Ocracoke Ponies. When she was a little girl E was a huge fan of horses, and the lives of the barrier island horses became quite dear to her through the writings of Marguerite Henry in stories such as Misty of Chincoteague. So, the remnant herd of horses now penned on Ocracoke was a must see on our trip. The horses were beautiful, stocky creatures. They are now cared for by the National Park Service, so I suspect their mood is somewhere in between wild and zoo-kept. What happens to this herd in such moments? Are they shuttled off the island or are they left to their stables until Irene blows over?
The Hotelier and the Bulldog. The manager of our hotel had trained a bulldog to ride a skateboard. This is cool beyond words. ‘Nuff said.
The People at the Grocery Store, the Bakery, the Shell Shop and the Bookstore. In hindsight these were the folks (along with the hotel staff, of course) that we interacted with the most. They fed us, informed us, and amused us in the way that any good neighbor might. In short, they made us feel at home
The Man on the Boat Named Baum. On the ferry boat to over to Ocracoke we spoke to one of the boatmen about working on the ferry boats. His last name was Baum - one of two on our ferry that afternoon - and one of the eight boats is named after his great-grandfather. The name Baum was also inscribed on the old site of the Cape Hatteras lighthouse. We weren’t sure if that was the same man, but the family clearly has a name on the islands. During our sunny transit over Pamlico Sound Mr. Baum related to us the assorted procedures they go through in the event of a storm.
Procedures I have no doubt they’re executing as I type this.