My house sits on acreage bordering the Pamlico Sound. Much of it is salt marsh that blends into slightly elevated land with natural vegetation, including live oak, red cedar and yaupon holly. I built my home here and have lived on the property for 37 years.
The land was part of the Clarence E. Midgett estate and I have Midgett family members living all around me.
I’ve enjoyed the natural setting and history here. Early on I admired a nearby grave. Banister Midyett’s headstone stands just a few feet over my north property line. He was born February 26, 1786 and died May 31, 1841 at the of age 55. He reportedly fathered 18 children. The name of Midgett has morphed into different spellings throughout history, but they would all seem to be related. They must have been among the first Europeans to settle Hatteras Island as shipwreck survivors.
Another artifact close to my home is a disintegrating wooden skiff, tangled in overgrowth. There would be some captivating stories if it could talk. It likely belonged to I D Midgett, who passed recently at 92 years. He was a quintessential Hatterasman, making a living on the water as a ferry boat captain and commercial fisherman.
I D’s family built this structure to store fishing gear and a place to bring in the daily catch. The past few years however, it has seen very little use. As a local livelihood, commercial fishing has become an anachronism.
This approaching new year will be my 50th living on Hatteras, and the Holidays have always been a favorite time here. Looking back, it’s been a good run. There’s no place quite like it.
After Thanksgiving, things quiet down from the busy season. It’s a time I might walk out on the center line of highway 12, gaze north then south, and not see a single vehicle.
The beach offers a similar experience. There I savor the peacefulness and solitude of Christmastime and the occasional celebratory shell tree.
Thanksgiving reminds me of that day in 2015, as I drove to my family Thanksgiving gathering in Avon. Driving by Ramp 25, a rainbow materialized and lasted over 15 minutes. There was plenty of time to play with dozens of exposures. Despite my tendency to shoot nothing but horizontal seascapes, I decided to turn the camera 90° for a few vertical shots. I was happy with this one.
The image would turn out to have personal significance, marking the last Thanksgiving celebration I would share with my mother. I’m so grateful for that!
Autumn transforms the landscape. The obvious occurs in deciduous forests around the country. But in dunes and salt marshes of Hatteras Island change is revealed in other ways.
In Fall, flowering plants such as goldenrod, attract migrant monarchs.
A mostly inconspicuous coastal shrub, sea myrtle bursts out in spectacular fashion.
Salicornia bigelovii is a striking plant of the salt marsh. Also known as dwarf glasswort, it’s succulent, salty and edible. The above photo shows it surrounded by spartina and juncus grasses. Sprouting lime green during warmer months, it grows about a foot tall and gradually turns crimson as the season cools down.
Its brilliance astounds me whenever I see it.
Glasswort develops seeds to propagate and eventually decomposes, making organic matter available to a variety of organisms. The salt marsh is truly alive and a valuable resource!
Tropical cyclones are better experienced from a distance. Earlier this month Hurricane Earl, hundreds of miles out to sea, swept by. High seas churned up and washed through in expected areas. The S-curve originally paved a bit straighter, has long been notorious for ocean over-wash. The S configuration is due to the fact, it has been relocated westward so many times. Arguably it has been one the most expensive sections of road to maintain in the state.
With the new bypassing bridge opened, traffic will no longer need the traditional route.
Since the S-curve was abandoned, this was the first time an over wash has broken through the spot that has been repeatedly dug out, rebuilt and reused. This time that won’t happen, ever again.
Road signs are still in place with the asphalt surface buried under accreted sand.
Hundreds of sandbags were of little help against the power of the sea. As part of the bridge agreement they, along with the roadbed, will be excavated and removed.
For over 30 years Mirlo Beach has been a fantasy development that is becoming another victim to the Graveyard of the Atlantic.
Oceanfront property owners in dire shape, have gotten permission to move their houses west toward a street no longer needed. At the very best, it should give them a few more years to ponder their options.
Meanwhile, the Black Pearl stands stoically defiant in nature’s grasp.