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One Woman's Opinion

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Just Ducky

Urbanna, Va.—The last time I went to Duck, Outer Banks, North Carolina, I had to drive on a sandy path to get there. Some 40 years ago, I had met a real estate agent on a sand dune who offered me 100 feet of oceanfront property for $50,000.

I had stood on that barren beach in front of the roaring waves that were pounding the shore without a single dwelling in sight and decided buying a piece of shifting sand  on the ocean would be a foolish investment.

by Mary Wakefield Buxton
Such is life, I thought, returning to the multi-million dollar neighborhood that had come about in spite of shifting sands . . . ever filled with all the many foolish decisions we make along the way.

On this recent birthday weekend visit to the quiet elegance of the Sanderling Inn, one of the few hotels in Duck, I was treated to therapy of far blue horizons, screaming seagulls, and crashing waves day and night just hundreds of yards from my room. It was just what the doctor ordered.

Perhaps the most fetching part of a journey to Duck is its proximity. It’s a several days trip by car to Camden, Maine, or Sea Pines, Georgia, or a Florida beach. But one can drive to Duck from Middlesex County within a mere few hours.

I noticed five dead seagulls obviously struck by cars on the Currituck Sound Bridge. I don’t know if the wind was blowing seagulls into the cars that day or what had happened. I just knew the sight was rare. In the past, I have seen only an occasional fallen bird.

Birds offer great delight. I sat for hours happily watching the delicate sandpipers running back and forth with the rise and fall of waves. They were  in search of food in the wet sand, and it was laugh-out-loud funny how they ran down the sand with the receding waves, then turned and ran as fast as their little legs could carry them when the next wave came crashing in.

Higher on the beach were the stately black-winged gulls, their smaller all-white brothers, and the occasional brown-feathered herring gulls. They stood like statues in flocks and did not bother to fly off as I walked by. What were they waiting for? A fish delivered by the sea? They looked totally disinterested in food. Perhaps, they had a found a handy garbage dump nearby where they now feasted each day and no longer needed to fly endlessly up and down the shore in search of food.

A day trip to Corolla further north to Fat Crabs Restaurant offered crab cakes, corn-on-the-cob, fresh cole slaw along with homemade pecan pie that were out of this world. A lady from Richmond owned the restaurant, did her own cooking, and told me she had spent her summers growing up in Deltaville.

While in North Carolina, one must sample barbecue. But nothing surpassed what Dan Gill serves up at “Something Different,” just outside of Urbanna.

The Whale Bone Museum and North Carolina Wildlife Preserve at the Corolla lighthouse were of interest. Tiny people waved at me from the top ledge of the lighthouse, but I passed up the climbing adventure.

I was determined to swim in the ocean. The waves were ferocious and, at first, I decided it would be foolish to attempt a swim. I have been known to jump fearlessly into rough seas while at the same time calling any accompanying friends “sissies” if they did not follow. But I have turned 68 now, and wisdom seems to be descending upon me.

But on the third morning of wisdom, I donned bathing suit and with Yankee fortitude marched toward the sea, perhaps in the same way that Sherman moved toward Atlanta years ago. “This is why the North won the war!” I announced to Chip who warned me of the fierce rip tide. No one else was in the water, but what did that have to do with Yankee fortitude and why the North had won the war?

Into the hurling foam I plunged. Consumed by the sea, I was soon delivered back to land a bit of a drowned rat. A certain party laughed, but the same thing happened to him as he was knocked down by a killer wave. We decided to “swim” no more.

But it was the same old sea joy: sunburned noses, sandy feet, taste of salt on our lips, and a hairdo that looked eggbeater inspired. Best of all, I can still see the little legs of the sandpipers running above the waves. ©2009

posted 10.15.2009

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