Friday, September 28, 2007

Comments from Philip

Heraclitus declared that we can’t step into the same river twice. Others have noted that the only constant in life is change.

Time and time again I have heard visitors to Ocracoke express the same sentiment we read in the comments to a recent post: “Don’t let Ocracoke change!” I have often remarked that most people who voice this thought are actually advocating for an Ocracoke like the one they first encountered (30 years ago? 20 years ago? 5 years ago?). Everyone, it seems, wants to close the gate behind them. And yet no one I’ve spoken with wants to return to an Ocracoke before their own time.

Although I fully agree that we must work to preserve the best qualities of our unique, beautiful, and often threatened island and community (more on that below), it is na├»ve to believe that Ocracoke can ever persist in some artificial time warp. Furthermore, whose “first encounter” will we use as the benchmark?

When confronted by good-intentioned folks who yearn for the idyllic Ocracoke that never changes, I sometimes point out to them what it might be like if things had not changed in the last fifty – sixty years.

When I was a young boy,

· Ocracoke had no ferries. What few visitors came to the island arrived by mailboat. Later on, we had a three-car private ferry (with no railings, no ramp, and no dock). Although this was a wonderful period of island history, be honest with yourself: most of our readers would never have even heard of Ocracoke; and most of the rest would never have considered traveling to this remote outpost.
· We had only one paved road (a short section of one-lane concrete used by the Navy). What few vehicles were on the island were frequently stuck in the soft sand; and virtually no one had any reason to venture as far as Hatteras Inlet.
· A day at the beach (an infrequent outing) meant a long, hot walk across the sand flats -- unless someone had access to a surplus Army jeep.
· Water (rainwater caught in wooden cisterns) was rationed carefully, especially in hot, dry summer months. Baths were infrequent, and drinking water was strained through cheesecloth to filter out (most of) the wigglers (mosquito larvae).
· Fires were extinguished (or not) by neighbors manning a bucket brigade.
· Medical emergencies were handled by family, friends, and maybe a resident nurse. There were no ambulances, helicopters, or clinics.
· Electricity was basic, minimal, and often unreliable.
· Telephone service was spotty and irregular.
· Indoor bathrooms were almost unheard of.
· Air conditioning was non-existent.
· Most homes were heated by kerosene space heaters.
· Cable TV, the internet, and mobile phones were un-dreamed of.

It is not that I sing the praises of all modern “conveniences.” I do not have a television, and I was even one of the few islanders who voted against the installation of a municipal water system in the 1970s. I knew it would spur growth; and it has. I loved the Ocracoke of my youth – a magical place unlike any other.

However my home and business have air conditioning and central heat. I am connected to the internet, and use a mobile phone. I even enjoy the convenience of the water that flows through my tap from our sophisticated reverse-osmosis water system.

At the same time, I am committed to preserving the best of what Ocracoke has to offer. Instead of longing for an island that will never change, I hope for an island that can somehow manage to balance a rich, colorful, and vibrant history with the demands of a modern society.

There are many things that are beyond our direct control. Federal, state, and county regulations determine property values, taxes, highway decisions, school particulars, Park Service decisions, and many other issues. Property is bought and sold; and again, federal, state, and county laws intervene, often to protect property owners’ individual rights.

As I’ve said so many times, Ocracoke is no artificial attraction, like Disney World. This is a year around community of about 750 people, and we all have a voice in Ocracoke’s present and future. And we don’t always agree. Compromise is necessary.

Every person who moves to Ocracoke brings a slightly different voice. Every baby born here is a unique individual. Every adult from the island sees the world through a slightly different lens.

Those of us who want to preserve what we see as the best of island life can do so in a number of ways. Elected office is one way. Voting is another. But there are others. Some in our community serve tirelessly as volunteers in the school, the churches, the fire department, the civic & business association, on various boards and committees, and in many other ways.

Many islanders have spent countless hours preserving stories, history, and genealogies; as well as trees, plants, open spaces, buildings, and traditional culture.

One of the reasons I personally collect island stories, and share them whenever the opportunity arises, or call a traditional Ocracoke square dance, or host a wintertime pot luck dinner, or restore a typical island home, or even brew an occasional batch of meal wine, is not only to hold on to a bit of the sense of shared history and culture that binds us together as a community, but also to encourage others to do the same.

To call for our island to never change is to call for our island to die. We have no better example of that than Portsmouth, the ghost town across Ocracoke Inlet. So instead I challenge us all to accept with good graces the inevitable changes, the new neighbors who move onto our island, the new technologies that can enhance our lives, and the innovations & creative activities that bring excitement and joy into our lives.

At the same time, I challenge us all to do a few simple things to help preserve our precious island home. Turn off your TV and walk to a neighbor’s home for a visit. Invite friends over to play cards, quilt, play music, or just to talk. Plant a garden. Take your family or friends out fishing. Let it be known that your neighbors can borrow your tools, or ask for your help with a project. Walk more, or bike. Stop along the way just to chat.

Of course, more needs to be done. There are real challenges and threats to a simpler, more relaxed way of life. We need to support our elected officials who work to preserve our unique and wonderful island community with far-sighted legislation that celebrates our heritage and prevents the destruction and degradation of our community.

We also need a practical and realistic view of our island that can balance all that is good and rich and beautiful from the past with whatever good we can extract from the outside. Change is inevitable. Without being passive, I hope we can glean from the changes what we choose, and combine it with the best of the past and present to create a living community that residents and visitors can all embrace.

PS: To all those good folks who have called for Ocracoke never to change (both in this journal, and in person), I do understand your sentiments. I no more want Ocracoke to end up like so many other coastal resort communities than you do. We must work to prevent those changes that threaten our very special community and way of life. I thank you for your heartfelt concern.

Our latest monthly newsletter is Lou Ann's story of commercial clamming with 13 year old Morty. You can read it here.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Overnight Rain

It started raining just before 7 last evening. It was a soft, tropical feeling rain. It's been such a dry,dry summer, the kind that makes you avert your eyes from the plants you had such high hopes for when you put them in the ground in the spring. We didn't get a whole lot of rain but any is surely welcomed. It was so hot and dry this summer it was hard to come by a cloud most days. When our youngest son Travis still lived here on the island, and we had a summer like this, he'd look up at the sky and say " Oh Momma, don't you sometimes just get tired of that old sun and wish a cloud would come by?" Amen to that Travis! And...most days Frank and I wish Travis would come by.

Our latest monthly newsletter is Lou Ann's story of commercial clamming with 13 year old Morty. You can read it here.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Thanks

I'd like to thank all of you who took the time to comment on yesterdays blog. I hope those who are so intent on making Ocracoke like "out there" hear your voices. Gated Communities, condos and all those other EX-clusive so called amenities are not what Ocracoke is, was or hopefully ever will be about. Well, Frank and I did go fishing last night after work. Without much rain this summer the beach is all worked up and not easy to drive on so we went over Airport and toward South Point just a quarter mile or so. I can't begin to explain how beautiful it was...just before sunset, full moon rising, the old girl ( the ocean and I are on familiar terms ) flat as my stomach when I was twenty, high tide... just as soft an evening as you could imagine. Stan and Marcie, friends of our from Richmond, met us with subs from Jasons and some lovely beverages. Willie, our Corgi, was in his glory. Willie would rather be on the beach than anywhere. Beach and treat are his two favorite words...I digress. Frank decided to use a special lure of his instead of bait so...on his first cast his line broke and well you get the picture... we won't go into it..... The sun went down as we were drinking our lovely beverages and then somebody turned on the mosquito switch! We made it to our trucks alive with all equipment dog and wife accounted for ,barely. We waved goodbye to Stan and Marcie through closed windows and headed home to soothe our wounds with a Benadryl stick and watch the first new "House" of the season. He really does remind me of Frank.

Our latest monthly newsletter is Lou Ann's story of commercial clamming with 13 year old Morty. You can read it here.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Mixed Emotions

Philip is so easy. He writes about pot lucks and walks on the beach and all the things that y'all think Ocracoke is 100% made of and don't get me wrong, it is,.... but more like 75%. The other 25% is folks who care, fighting to keep Ocracoke the sweet place that it is. It's not an easy fight or a pretty one. Being named #1 Beach in the USA hasn't helped that fight. And, in case you haven't heard, I believe Conde Nast named us #4 in the WORLD ! It's been a double edged sword, or as I like to put it, a sharp stick in the eye. Not many of us live here to get rich, we live here for the way of life (there will be folks who disagree I'm sure ). Being named #1 Beach brought folks here who hadn't a clue what Ocracoke was all about and ended up being dissatisfied with what the island DIDN'T have to offer. I'll leave those things to your imagination. "Oh, we love your island, let us change it for you!" It was a good summer financially for all of us . I'm just so afraid we've lost something that we're not going to be able to replace. I'm not one who likes to be wrong but I sure hope I am this time.
Ok,... Ok, I'll be cheerful tomorrow... I promise. Maybe we'll go fishing tonight. Jude

Our latest monthly newsletter is Lou Ann's story of commercial clamming with 13 year old Morty. You can read it here.

Monday, September 24, 2007

A Clarification

Hi, Jude here again after a long absence. Philip is off galavanting ( well deserved ) after a very busy summer. The spider in our yard that Philip showed you a photo of the other day is actually a "Golden Silk Spider" which is indeed an Orb spider. Legs included he is as big as a mans hand! Although not considered aggressive, she was not too happy with Frank when he accidentally ran into her web with his head. I hadn't seen Frank move that fast in years. It has been an interesting summer for sure. I'll tell you about it over the next week or so.

Our latest monthly newsletter is Lou Ann's story of commercial clamming with 13 year old Morty. You can read it here.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Morty

We have published another monthly Ocracoke Newsletter. This month Lou Ann shares her adventure accompanying 13 year old islander, Morty Gaskill, Ocracoke's youngest commercial fisherman, on his morning trip out to his clam beds. You can read Lou Ann's story here. (It's short -- only 750 words -- but a true gem.)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Orb Spider

I rode my bike by Jude & Frank's house this morning. My camera doesn't work well for close ups so this is the best photo I could get of their spider.



This is an orb spider (on the island we call it a garden spider), and you can see a better picture on the Wikipedia web site by clicking here.

Today is also "Speak Like a Pirate Day," so I'll close by saying Aaaaargh!

This month's newsletter is a story of Captain Joe Burrus, last Ocracoke lighthouse keeper before the beacon was electrified and automated. You can read it here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Spider

I've been told that there is a large, exotic, and beautiful spider at Frank & Jude's, and I was hoping to stop by today and take a photo, but, alas, I never made it over there. And now I'm ready to go home and relax. Maybe tomorrow.

This month's newsletter is a story of Captain Joe Burrus, last Ocracoke lighthouse keeper before the beacon was electrified and automated. You can read it here.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Nature Deficit Disorder

Our faithful summer employee, Kelly, is reading a book I will be sure to read also, Last Child in the Woods, by Richard Louv. It's subtitle is "Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder." Of course, this is no recognized clinical diagnosis; and I freely admit to not having yet read the book (this is not an endorsement, or review of Louv's work). But a quotation by a fourth grader on an early page caught my attention: "I like to play indoors better 'cause that's where all the electrical outlets are."

I thought about that quote yesterday afternoon as I romped on the beach barefooted with David and Lachlan. Lachlan had found an aluminum can (let's hope it was not cavalierly tossed out of a vehicle window), and a three foot long piece of string. I tied the can to the string and Lachlan ran from dunes to surf whooping and hollering with the can trailing behind. Gulls swooped down overhead, and willets & sandpipers poked in the incoming tide. David and I chased him back and forth until he tired of the game. He buried his feet in the sand, then climbed to the tops of the dunes and ran back down. Once he tumbled face first, picked himself up, and spit out the sand before continuing to explore and pick up pieces of shells & driftwood.

I don't think Lachlan has Nature-Deficit Disorder.

This month's newsletter is a story of Captain Joe Burrus, last Ocracoke lighthouse keeper before the beacon was electrified and automated. You can read it here.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Weddings & Babies

Well, Sara & Brian were married yesterday (and so were Kevin & Laura, but I couldn't go to both weddings). A dark cloud scudded by overhead during Sara & Brian's ceremony, but no rain fell. Afterwards we all ambled up to the dunes to enjoy hamburgers, barbecue, and lots of other fine food and drink, as well as good conversation, and, of course, wedding cake.

This afternoon I joined a bunch of folks at Deepwater theater to honor Marcie & Lou's newest arrival, little Charlotte. It was primarily a ladies' event, so several of the other guys and I stayed around for the good food, then repaired to the Pub for some beer and "guy talk." We laughed and carried on, but before long it was time to head home. Today the weather is just perfect -- sunny and breezy; not too cool, and not too hot (or humid). So I'll close for now and go outside to enjoy the rest of the day. Talk with you tomorrow.

This month's newsletter is a story of Captain Joe Burrus, last Ocracoke lighthouse keeper before the beacon was electrified and automated. You can read it here.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Cocktail Party

Cocktail Party? On Ocraacoke? Sure enough. This afternoon at two Sara Harris (nee Spencer) and Brian Warren will be married on the beach. I will be participating (Sara was one of my students at Ocracoke School way back in the mid-70s), so I joined the party last night. Well it wasn't exactly like a stiff, formal cocktail party. With few exceptions almost everyone knew everyone else -- you know, kinfolk, neighbors, & friends. There was a table filled with good things to eat, and some of the ladies had on party dresses (I even wore a collared shirt), but some folks were in t-shirts and shorts, or barefooted. Like most island gatherings, the people and the stories and the laughter were much more important than status, position, or clothes.

It is overcast with a 50% chance of showers this afternoon, but Sara says she'll go ahead with the wedding in the rain if she has to. This could be interesting.

This month's newsletter is a story of Captain Joe Burrus, last Ocracoke lighthouse keeper before the beacon was electrified and automated. You can read it here.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Uncle Homer

"He was a card, he was," came the commentary. "The other boys and girls were scared of him, but I wasn't. I knew he had a good heart. But there weren't nothing he wouldn't do, just for devilment. He let the other children bury him up to his neck in the schoolyard once. When he got hold of a car, he'd drive it right up to your porch, through the garden and all. I remember that time he come to the door in women's clothes. He had a hat, a purse, and that fur wrapped around his neck. You couldn't help but like him, though. He was a character, always giving away things to the younguns."

I stopped by to visit Blanche Styron last night. We talked for over an hour about old-time island characters. I especially like to hear stories of Uncle Homer. Blanche said that my grandmama always doted on Homer; that's why he was like he was. Others have told me that he "wasn't quite right" from the time he was little. He was just full of foolishness, and always unpredictable....and unusual. I reminded Blanche of hearing that he worked in a circus years ago. He "beat the drum for the dancing camel," I was told.

There aren't as many characters here any more. More people, more regulations, more social pressure to conform. What a pity.

This month's newsletter is a story of Captain Joe Burrus, last Ocracoke lighthouse keeper before the beacon was electrified and automated. You can read it here.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A Good Soaker

Finally, it rained. During the night I heard thunder rolling through the air. Then a patter of raindrops outside my window. Eventually a steady cascade upon the roof. If it was a deluge I didn't know. I fell back asleep. But this morning there were large puddles in the lane. Outside in my shower, every tree above me was glistening with pearly drops suspended from the tips of branches and twigs. The land will be rejoicing.

Speaking of weather, a reader asked recently if Ocracoke's unique geographical configuration might militate against devastating effects from storms and hurricanes. Frankly, I don't know, although some older residents are adamant that the dredging of Cockle Creek (Silver Lake) and the filling in of the guts (two tidal streams that extended from Cockle Creek towards the beach) have left the village more vulnerable to storm tides, According to these old timers, the tide waters are no longer channeled to once barren tidal flats, but now inundate the village.

I am not knowledgeable enough to know if this is true, but it certainly seems that the more we interfere with nature the more she lets us know that she had it right all along.

This month's newsletter is a story of Captain Joe Burrus, last Ocracoke lighthouse keeper before the beacon was electrified and automated. You can read it here.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Peeling Potatoes

She was sitting on the sofa when I walked in just before supper. A newspaper in her lap was piled with peelings. She was deftly guiding the paring knife over a large potato. A bowl nearby was filled with spuds. Only a few still had their skins.

I had stopped by earlier in the day, but she hadn't slept much that night and had stayed in bed until late in the morning. When she opened the door I realized that was the first time I had ever seen her head uncovered. Her hair was snow white and thin. All of her life, it seems, she had kept her head covered with a blue bandanna. Even when we were next door neighbors I had never seen her without her bandanna neatly folded on the top of her head.

I told her I would return in the afternoon.

When I did stop back she was bright and cheery. We talked about photos on the walls, old times, her sisters, my family, and, island news. She remembered that Lachlan and I share a birthday. "It's August, isn't it?" she said, more a statement than a question. "August the second," she continued.

Of course, she was correct. Muze never seems to forget birthdays, even if she is 103 years old.

This month's newsletter is a story of Captain Joe Burrus, last Ocracoke lighthouse keeper before the beacon was electrified and automated. You can read it here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

One in a Thousand

Several days ago Amy called me from work to report that the National Park Service was planning to release a clutch of newly hatched turtles that evening at 7:10. I passed the information along to David, hoping he could bring Lachlan, but it didn't work out for them.

When I arrived a small crowd of locals had gathered on a fairly remote section of the beach (far from village lights and automobile headlights). A park ranger had a bucket with 47 baby loggerheads. We were given a brief wildlife lesson:
-- a typical female turtle lays about 120 eggs [this nest had 160 eggs];
-- the babies swim all the way to the Sargasso Sea in the Gulf Stream and "hang out" there for a while, then travel all the way across to the other side of the Atlantic;
-- after 20 - 25 years they swim back here and the females return to the beach where they hatched to lay their eggs.

Then the youngsters were released. This was being done in several sessions, as they hatched. The little guys were set on the sand in groups of four to six. Immediately they struck out for the surf. Lucky ones reached the water with just the right timing and slid under the water effortlessly. Others were tossed and turned and thrown back up on the beach by one wave after another. Some landed on their backs and struggled to right themselves. Finally they too would crawl back and disappear under the churning white water and be gone.

Biologists estimate that only one in a thousand hatchlings survives. At least we kept these few safe from ghost crabs and seagulls. Maybe one or two will make it all the way to the Sargasso Sea, and perhaps my great-grandchildren will one day witness one of these turtles' youngsters hastening back to the great open sea.

This month's newsletter is a story of Captain Joe Burrus, last Ocracoke lighthouse keeper before the beacon was electrified and automated. You can read it here.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Final Report

Well, Gabrielle disappointed no one but the news media (as one comment yesterday noted). As expected, there was wind, but not much more than on a typical blustery day. Unfortunately, we got almost no rain. For a few moments we received a light mist, but that was all. Actually, there were large patches of blue sky most of the day, even as lower level clouds raced by overhead. I spent the day sharing meals with Amy, David, & Lachlan, visiting with neighbors on the front porch, reading, and napping. All in all, it was a thoroughly pleasant day.

Today it is sunny and warmer. I've heard that we might eventually get some rain, maybe later in the week, and no one will be disappointed about that.

This month's newsletter is a story of Captain Joe Burrus, last Ocracoke lighthouse keeper before the beacon was electrified and automated. You can read it here.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Update

The wind has picked up some (to about 15 mph), and a very light rain has just begun to fall. As an official report says, "such conditions certainly are not newsworthy, particularly for Ocracoke, if not for it being a tropical event." Gabrielle appears to be tracking almost directly over Ocracoke, however.

Forecasters indicate that winds may reach 45 - 55 mph before the storm passes by. There is no cause for alarm. I think I will shut down my computers, pick up my latest book, and enjoy the breeze. See you tomorrow.

Storm

A tropical storm warning is in effect for eastern North Carolina. Maximum sustained winds should not be more than about 50 mph, although the center of Gabrielle is expected to be near Ocracoke Inlet around noon. Right now it is sunny with just a light breeze.

With the memory of hurricane Alex (and accompanying high tides) still relatively fresh in our minds, a few locals have already begun parking vehicles on higher ground, but there are no evacuations or other major preparations. High tide will occur about 7 pm. Forecasters are predicting a rapid transit of Gabrielle past the Outer Banks, so the storm should be well off shore by noon on Monday.

This month's newsletter is a story of Captain Joe Burrus, last Ocracoke lighthouse keeper before the beacon was electrified and automated. You can read it here.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Gabrielle

At this point no one on Ocracoke seems particularly worried about sub-tropical storm Gabrielle. But islanders are keeping an eye on developments. The following information was sent by the Hyde County Emergency Management Coordinator:

Official Release of Information
Date: 09/08/07 @ 12:30AM
Event: Sub Tropical Storm – Gabrielle
Release: For Immediate Release - #2
Contact: Tony Spencer – 252-542-0805

Tropical Storm Watch Now In Effect for Hyde County

The National Hurricane Center has upgraded the former low pressure off our coast to Sub Tropical Storm Gabrielle. The first official forecast for the storm is to approach Cape Lookout Sunday early in afternoon and be directly over the southern Pamlico Sound around 8PM.

Current maximum winds are forecasted locally around 60MPH, sufficient to shut down public safety services. However, some uncertainty continues with a wide suggestion on intensities by the models, as well as time of curvature affecting point of landfall. Either way, the approach is aligned with both normal and astrological High Tide which could cause minor flooding. Rip currents and rough surf should be expected.

The Ocracoke Control Group will meet Saturday morning to review updated information. If necessary, the Hyde County Control Group may meet later in the day.

Residents and visitors to Hyde County should monitor the situation closely and make preparations for possible impact and disruption of public services in the storm approaches.

Tony Spencer, Emergency Management Coordinator
- - - -
Storm Preparation Initial Checklist:
(__) Check First Aid Kits / Fire Extinguishers
(__) Obtain medicines & prescriptions
(__) Check and fuel vehicles and generators
(__) Obtain Cash
(__) Make pet Arrangements
(__) Pick up loose items around the yard
(__) Protect vulnerable portions of property
(__) Obtain non-perishable food and water for 3+ days (5+ is recommended on Ocracoke)
(__) Obtain baby need or personal need items
(__) Check battery powered electronics and generators
(__) Assemble valuables and documents that cannot be replaced easily

This month's newsletter is a story of Captain Joe Burrus, last Ocracoke lighthouse keeper before the beacon was electrified and automated. You can read it here.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Sphyrna

I was walking along the beach yesterday afternoon when I spied something ahead, washed up on the beach. It was about as big as a dolphin, but looked different. As I neared I became more convinced that it was not a dolphin. Could it be a deer, I wondered? Something resembled a leg, bent at the knee, but I couldn't be sure. I walked closer.

No, it was not a deer, that was for certain, but I didn't know what it was until I was almost on top of it. It was a hammerhead shark. I knew they and other sharks swim in our waters. I know people have seen them in the sound.

It was still mid afternoon, not shark feeding time (late afternoon, early evening) and beautiful, so I jumped into the waves for a brief swim. The water was warm but refreshing.

You can read more about the hammerhead shark (genus Sphyrna) here: http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/fish/hammerhead-shark.html

This month's newsletter is a story of Captain Joe Burrus, last Ocracoke lighthouse keeper before the beacon was electrified and automated. You can read it here.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Taking Care of Our Own

That's the title of one of the chapters in Alton Ballance's book, Ocracokers. There have not been many times when the aptness of the phrase has been more apparent than recently. Joyce Reynolds, our Methodist minister reminded me that the Ocracoke community has had seven deaths in the last two months. Just yesterday we gathered for the funeral of Roy Parsons.

The Assembly of God church was packed with family and friends, and for more than an hour we celebrated Roy's love of life, music, and stories. There were tender and touching moments, and there were happy and joyful moments. At least eight musicians played songs as Roy's guitar stood next to the casket. Elizabeth assured us it was what Roy would have wanted.

Last night, the Ocrafolk Opry played to a packed audience, and all proceeds went to Roy's family. The performances were stellar, and the crowd responded with enthusiasm and excitement. It was a genuine example of a community taking care of its own. Everyone was united in paying tribute to a kind and gentle musician who was no longer with us, while at the same time strengthening the bonds that keep neighbors, friends, and family connected for the common good. I'm proud to call Ocracoke home.

This month's newsletter is a story of Captain Joe Burrus, last Ocracoke lighthouse keeper before the beacon was electrified and automated. You can read it here.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Ocrafolk School Update

With the arrival of September and cooler weather, islanders are looking toward fall on Ocracoke. A number of off-islanders have signed up for classes at our new Ocrafolk School the week of October 21 - 26.

There are still spaces left for most of the classes. This is a unique opportunity to experience Ocracoke in what some consider the best season of the year while learning a new skill and enjoying the company of other creative and energetic folks. However, there have been a few changes to the offerings.

You can read the latest information about the Ocrafolk School by clicking here.

This month's newsletter is a story of Captain Joe Burrus, last Ocracoke lighthouse keeper before the beacon was electrified and automated. You can read it here.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Quieter

Over the weekend the campgrounds were overflowing, and the lifeguard beach had a fair number of folks, but the island began to quiet down yesterday afternoon. At least that's how it felt to me. I think we're all looking forward to a little more time for ourselves and our families. So many chores have piled up (cleaning, organizing, filing, gardening, painting, fixing, etc.) and now the weather is nearly perfect for catching up on those long-neglected tasks. Maybe we'll even spend a bit more time out in our boats, or in the yard, or on the beach.

This month's newsletter is a story of Captain Joe Burrus, last Ocracoke lighthouse keeper before the beacon was electrified and automated. You can read it here.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Ocrafolk Opry Star....

....and much more. Native islander, Roy Parsons, died peacefully at home yesterday evening. He was eighty-six years old, and a regular performer at the Wednesday night show, with crisp, clean cowboy shirt, guitar strapped over his shoulder, and harmonica clamped onto a holder around his neck. He sang and told stories, always bringing the audience to outbursts of spontaneous applause, and often laughter.

Roy was also a folk artist, builder of collectible model wooden boats. He could often be found working in the yard near Pamlico Gifts, on Lighthouse Road.

I visited Roy and his wife, Elizabeth, on Thursday. Elizabeth told me he had slept well during the night. Early in the morning she was awakened by Roy chatting to himself out loud. He was rhyming, something that would surprise no one who knew Roy well. Then he began singing, and even yodeling. Roy was quite a character. He was also a kind and gentle soul, loved by all. We will miss him and his quirky ways.


This month's newsletter is a story of Captain Joe Burrus, last Ocracoke lighthouse keeper before the beacon was electrified and automated. You can read it here.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Helgomizer

Last month I published Walter Howard's story of the wreck of the Black Squall in 1861. Quoting old Arcade Williams talking about a giraffe, Walter writes this: “That’s the all-fired helgomizer,” [she said] nodding her head in approval. But his neck ain’t half as long as some of ‘em’s tongues around here."

I hadn't heard the term, helgomizer, before. This morning I googled the word, but the only return I got was my own web page. I suppose I'd better check with Blanche or another island elder. Maybe helgomizer is a corruption of a more common word.

In the meanwhile, if any readers (on or off island) have ever heard of a helgomizer, please leave a comment.

Oh yes, and have a wonderful Labor Day weekend!

This month's newsletter is a story of Captain Joe Burrus, last Ocracoke lighthouse keeper before the beacon was electrified and automated. You can read it here.