I really enjoy living here on the North Carolina coast. With all the hiking on the beaches that I do during the non-winter months, some might think that we put down roots here only because of my love for the sandy beaches of the Southern Outer Banks. There is some truth to that, but to be honest the marshes of eastern North Carolina have my heart.
I love to visit the beaches but having a home in the marshes is like being in the center of the action. As this Fairfax County, Virginia, public school website explains “Marshes probably support more life than any other type of habitat.”
To live along the edge of a marsh is a real privilege. We see a great variety of creatures. It is easy to find feathered, finned, and furred creatures here along the marshes of Raymond’s Gut most of the year. We also have our share of shelled critters as well. All you have to do is scroll through one of my photo collections from the last three months to get an idea of all the activity that happens in the marsh.
With so many aquatic birds around, it is safe to assume that we also have a lot of fish. You can confirm that by visiting my fall 2012 album which shows some of the red drum, trout, and flounder that I had fun catching mostly from my kayak last fall.
While I love getting warm saltwater on my feet over the beach, an early morning hike along the marsh edge can only be beaten by sliding my kayak in the water and paddling along the marsh grasses. The view from the water in a kayak is often stunning. It is not unusual for me to park my kayak in some marsh grass and just enjoy being part of nature. Sometimes I will just sit in the kayak and watch the sun slide down below the horizon. Other times I enjoy gliding through the waters of Raymond’s Gut.
The fall of 2012 was truly a great time for kayaking and fishing here in the marsh. I will remember it for all the puppy drum I caught if for no other reason. The winter of 2012-13 has also been a really special time in the marsh. Many birds and creatures seek protection from the harsh winds and weather and this year has been no exception. I have enjoyed a Kestrel which has been visiting this winter. Our many bluebirds have been even bluer than normal.
Spring can be an even better time of the year because we often get to see some new life. We are already seeing some baby fish and we have high hopes that our pair of river otters might have some babies where they have been staying most of the winter. We usually have one pair of Canada geese that give us some babies to watch. Last year I found a nest of pileated woodpeckers. This is a picture of one of them poking his head out of the nest.
Once summer is here, things get really special in the marsh. I did this summer morning in the marsh slide show called Mackerel Morning not too long after we moved here. When the water is nice and warm beyond the marshes, the marsh just becomes a base for other trips like the one described in the post called Blue Water mornings.
One thing that often surprises people about our marsh is that we seem to have very few mosquitoes. I cannot explain it, but I know homes in the woods not far from us seem to have more of the biting insects. I am not going to try to explain why that is the case. I am just going to enjoy it.
The marsh has turned out to be a great place to write. The natural beauty helps to sharpen your focus and certainly makes it easier to write about other natural areas. I just finished my third book, A Taste for the Wild, Canada’s Maritimes. I know living where I live now helped me remember those beautiful and surprisingly similar places we lived earlier in our lives.