Saturday, June 11, 2011

Our Secret Spot

Tucked away at the edge of NC's coastal plain swamps is our little "secret spot," what we call "the Woodpecker Beach." It's a magical Tom Sawyer world where any kid (or kid-at-heart) can wander the shores in search of buried treasure. Peaceful and calm, there are no boats, no other people, no development at all. When you are quiet, it is quiet, although you may hear the soft hum of dragonfly wings, the splash of jumping mullet, or the distant cry of an osprey overhead.
As we were driving away from home on the way to our beach, we spotted a yard sale table and stopped to check it out. We ended up finding a bargain and the perfect treasure, which the kids called "the best toy in the world:" a vintage wooden Star Yacht, "guaranteed to sail." It has a metal rudder and adjustable cloth sails.
The kids had a wonderful time sailing the little boat, and yes, it did sail quite well in the winds over the sound. It turned itself and found the wind, and sent the kids chasing after it lest it sail straight out to the ocean all on it's own.

The kids love the Woodpecker Beach because they can play and swim in the calm waters without worrying about rough waves or currents. The water of the Sound is shallow far from shore, so the older, better swimmers can venture farther out. 

After swimming and snacking we all get the itch for an adventure and walk along the shoreline to see what we can find. There's all kinds of things to navigate around, over and under: fallen trees, cypress stumps, tall grasses. We keep on the lookout for crabs, turtles, osprey, eagles, animal tracks and whatever else we might find washed up along the untouched shoreline.  

A Tortoise Beetle. We found quite a few of these.
The blue damselfly was rescued by our oldest from the water's surface. She attempted to give it a dry place to recover when it slipped out of her hand and a golden dragonfly came swiftly along and snatched it up out of the air. It landed on a nearby bit of switchgrass and we watched it snack away.
Freshwater mussels we dug out of the clean sand. We just put them back after collecting them. In the past we have eaten a few, but they really have no flavor at all.
The kids had fun holding this crab. Their dad wrangled it out of the shallows for them. Usually we find blue crabs out there, but I am not sure what type this is.
Our youngest carried this beetle around for quite a while! After investigating the hinged joints between it's body segments, she said it's body smelled bad,so she put it down finally. 
Noah found lone dropped dragonfly wings all over the waters surface near the shore. We decided dragonflies must be predatory and cannibalistic; after seeing the dragonfly eat the damselfly, we found it likely that all the dragonflywings were leftovers after the meal.
Noah found this dead longnose gar in the woods.
Deer and raccoon tracks. We also saw bird tracks, turtle,opposum and mole. 
Little kids near the shore, big kids farther out,parents walking the beach. We felt like a family of otters.
Peace and Quiet....

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