I’ve just returned from a week on the Outer Banks of NC. Salvo was the destination, although now Salvo, Rodanthe and Waves all run into one and it’s hard to discern where one begins and one ends. Further south is the town of Avon–originally called Kinnakeet. A Croatan word that means “land that juts into something.” In this case, the “something” is Pimlico Sound. A large body of water in between Hatteras Island and the mainland.
The Croatan were a branch of Algonquins who lived on Hatteras Island. In 1995 or thereabouts, an archaeological dig down in Buxton, south of Avon, uncovered a 16th century English signet ring. Validating previous speculation that the members of the original Lost Colony really DID make their way down Hatteras and were incorporated into the native community. That’s what I hope. And after all the speculation about blue-eyed natives, it seems that perhaps they were given “shelter from the storm.” Virginia Dare raised by a Croatan family. I like to imagine that.
But the Roanoke-Hatteras Croatan Indians suffered the same fate as most other indigenous people. They were hunters. Fishermen. Farmers. With limited defense systems. Limited defense against European disease. European aggression. And the perhaps not-so-unique American concept of manifest destiny. It’s an old story. Old. Sad. True. It’s a spin we often don’t read about in American History. And even though the the Hatteras Croatan all but disappeared, genealogical descendants still get together in August. In Manteo, for their annual pow-wow.
I have my own history with the Outer Banks. Really a history unlike my relationship with any other place on earth. In 1963 my mother took me and my three siblings there. It was the first year the island of Hatteras had become accessible by bridge. Prior to that, the only way over was via ferry. In 1963 the Island was–how can I say it–pristine? And basically, although it’s a stretch, I could say it still is. But it’s a stretch. I’ve been back there many times. In many very different situations and can attest that A LOT has changed in 50 years. With the island and with me. And I never fail to be amazed at the island’s ability to open up my memory bank to things long forgotten or buried. That’s how it functions for me.
The Outer Banks–a narrow skinny sand bar that’s constantly shifting and changing. It’s a barrier island. As much in need of protection as the mainland it’s protecting. The Audubon Society has stepped in because several native bird species are disappearing. Those little birds that used to be there, running one step ahead of the surf. I didn’t see any this time. Not one. It took me a few days to realize that. That some thing was missing. The sand pipers. The Outer Banks are for me the only place where water and sky meet to form the vastness of ocean as I understand it to be. Still, in order to continue appreciating the wonder of the place, I must struggle with the changes wrought on it by encroaching development. That’s a challenge. A huge challenge.
On this trip, we had wonderful weather even though Hurricane Andrea was brewing. Around Manteo on the way in, we drove through a pretty fierce storm
but we drove out from under the front as we crossed Oregon Inlet and the only other rain we experienced happened while we were sleeping.
and then the beach
I worked on several cloths while we were there–a family cloth where each of the eight of us created our own representation of self from scrap pieces–and a second cloth. Here’s a sneak preview through a hole in an oyster shell. A shell fragment for face. I became fascinated with imperfect shells. More on that later. This post has become too long now. I will post cloth images later on.