There are places in the world which can help heal your soul. I happen to live in one of those places. I came to it at a time when my life was full of challenges and I had come close to forgetting how important it is to appreciate the natural world around you.
Anyone that follows my writings and pictures knows that the years since 2006 when we moved here have changed my life. At one time when I was working for Apple, it seemed as if I hardly had time to check whether the sun was up or down. I was too busy trying to survive and watching my back.
Today my connection with the natural world is a priority. The only thing higher would be my family and friends. Fortunately my dedication to being close to the world of nature also helps me nurture many friendships and my family.
After a couple of cups of coffee, a typical winter day begins with at least an hour of hiking around the marshes in our subdivision. Sometimes I completely lose track of time and I end up spending closer to two hours wandering the woods and wetlands. Those days breakfast tastes very good when I finally get back home.
When I start out on the boardwalk close to home, I never know what I will find around the corner. It can be a great blue heron, some great egrets, a kingfisher, or any of a variety of ducks. Recently I have had great fun with a pair of river otters.
This is a special area. I often describe the area as a place hemmed in for its own good by the Croatan National Forest, Cape Lookout National Seashore, and the Atlantic Ocean with a little protection by Camp Lejeune and the Marines.
A big part of our world is the White Oak River which luckily drains mostly wilderness and farmland. The White Oak is a big but short coastal river with a strong tide and plenty of oysters. Often the water is so clear that you can easily see for yards.
The White Oak is just intimidating enough to outside boaters that we rarely see crowds on it in the summer. In the winter except for a few crab pots, the river is close to deserted. I am happy to have it to myself like I did on Christmas Day 2012 when I kayaked for most of the morning.
My morning walk often takes me along Raymond’s Gut which empties into the White Oak. I sometimes feel like I am in a bird sanctuary. The other morning I stood and snapped shots of bluebirds swarming around a tree. I have watched baby pileated woodpeckers waiting patiently for their parents to deliver food.
Even during the colder months, I often take to the river in my kayak or skiff. I try to be on the river at least a couple of times a week twelve months of the year. Instead of a long walk, in the summer I’ll often take my skiff to the marshes on the other side of the Intracoastal Waterway near Swansboro. I enjoy a little early morning fishing before the day heats up.
In both spring and summer I can be found walking the beaches especially the area that we call the Point. Usually I finish my day with either another walk, a trip into the river by kayak or a sunset cruise in the skiff. Watching the sun slide down behind the trees on the other side of the White is my idea of a great finish to a day.
The beaches, the marshes, the sound, the ocean, and the White Oak River are all part of this wonderful natural world that has helped me recover and learn to appreciate the great natural gifts we are so lucky to have access to in our world. It is a great place to live.