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Outer Banks Guide > Outer Banks Blogs > Eve Turek's Natural Outer Banks Blog

Sunday, January 8, 2012
Gleaming, glowing gleanings...
If this blog is ever keyworded by search engines, “glow” will undoubtedly be statistically significant. Regardless, glow has been significant for me this past week and may be emerging as a theme for the year, along with Round. Let me explain.

2012 is a week old today, and it’s included what I think of as typical Outer Banks winter weather: shirts-sleeves for New Year’s Day (mid-60’s), ice at the edge of the sound a scant three days later (mid-30’s), and back to the mid-60s by yesterday! We’ve had skies that look like snow, calm still days, stiff north/northeast winds, you name it. Winter has multiple personalities here, and I admit I like all of them—particularly when the colder side doesn’t last too long, which is just the way I like it. I’ll tramp around in 30-degree weather but tramping and photography are much easier at least 20 degrees warmer than that!

In keeping with my desire to see some new spots in this familiar home-place, I’ve gone down a couple of times in the evening to Jennette’s Pier—usually I go to Nags Head Pier, so even this little ride shows a different perspective. Beyond that, I drove to Corolla to check out the shipwreck near Food Lion that gets uncovered at times and is uncovered now. Wrecks move around; right now this one is at the end of the street where the historic marker about the wreck of the Metropolis (1878) is. That wreck, along with the wreck of the Huron off Nags Head (1877), helped shame the Congress into fully funding the Lifesaving Service, which later became the U.S. Coast Guard. Along the way, I stopped to see the ice-edged sound. I didn’t linger at soundside, though, and saw no big flocks of either snow geese or swan up Currituck way, either on the water or flying overhead. That doesn’t mean they are absent, but I didn’t see them. Driving back south, with the sun getting a bit lower in the sky, I saw the brightest iridescence I have seen here in a long time, not a halo, with more neon glowing jewel tones than the primary rainbow colors. I finally had a chance to pull over and photograph the phenomenon before it faded. I got back down the beach in time to go to the soundside beach at Colington for sunset, but I have to admit that what caught my eye there was a sunlit, glowing, reddish live oak tree rather than the sunset itself. I do love those few minutes of glow, and colder weather and clearer air definitely produce more intensity than we usually see in the warmer, hazier, humid summer months.

This past Friday I spent an enjoyable 90 minutes walking the northern part of Jockey’s Ridge. I like that section especially in winter, when the only footprints, typically, are those of the critters that live there year-round. I found mouse tracks along with bird and fox and bunny and raccoon, and it is the mouse tracks I have to show you below. They are so tiny! An equally tiny clump of grass had partnered with the wind to create a spiral in the sand. (Seemingly random detail will become important later.)

The wind has sculpted the dunes and created wonderfully picturesque sand ridges. I kept recalling western sandstone and the mesas of Utah as I walked. As the sun began to set and the moon to rise above the ridges, the sand began to glow with a deep rose also reminiscent of sunset in western canyons. One little eroded section even looked like miniature badlands, and had slices of bright taxicab yellow in the setting sun! I’d spent a lovely earlier lunch talking about color with artist Judith Bailey, and with her encouragement, was even more alert than I usually am to see what it was I was seeing. I’d told her about the glowing live oak, and we agreed that sometimes the colors present to our heart are also present to our eyes as well. Artist E. M. Corsa sent me down the color path years ago, and Judy reinforced all of that earlier prompting. Tramping around, I spied a fellow photographer, Jared Lloyd, and we had a nice chat before turning back to what drew each of us there in the first place.

The next day I had another chance to be outside, this time with artist Emily Terrell. (Do you see a pattern here? Eve gets a little time off and what is she doing? Hanging around artists, talking art and life, and taking photographs! Ah, the good life!) Anyway, we hiked down some trails I had never walked before on Roanoke Island’s north end and came out at the sound. There were clouds overhead that looked a little like pinwheels, just a couple, and right above us. We wondered aloud at the swirling energy that must be forming them as we watched. Then Emily spied something neither of us ever saw before: a feather ball, wound tight by wind or perhaps by a critter like Mouse (although there was no entrance hole, and it was much tidier than any mouse nest I’ve ever seen), nestled among a tiny clump of marsh grass. It was a serendipitous, synchronous find, as we had been talking of winds swirling, and of various other round finds, both literal and metaphorical. I told her about photographing mouse tracks the day before, and about the spiral in the sand. Now here were spiral clouds overhead, and a wound ball of feathers at our feet.

On my way home I stopped again at Jennette’s to watch the sun set over the ocean. Yes, yes, I know. It sets over the sound, in Nags Head. But its setting color radiates toward the ocean and that is what draws me, again and again, in the early evening. The moon, almost full, hung overhead just south of the pier. What I loved best about all of it was a brief few minutes of an intense glow that lit up half of the eroded footprints in one little section of beach, turning that lit half bright pink. A green jeep had parked on the beach and I wound up taking a last few pictures of the pier itself right as the jeep began to pull away, and the driver was Wilton Wescott! Two artists, two fellow photographers, two walks, all in two days! The evening ended with the bright silver moon throwing a full halo above the trees across the street, as a mackerel sky moved swiftly overhead, another image of Round, and a glowing, iridescent one at that!

One happy part of being a photographer is being able to share such treasures. So all of these finds are below. Enjoy.

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Brake Test! One of the first photographs of the new year for me. You know I love me some pelicans!

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January 1, I went looking for whales. None to be seen...but I did spy this large feeding frenzy of gannets near Kitty Hawk Pier, so dolphins and migrating humpbacks may have been nearby as well.

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Here's the shipwreck in Corolla on the coldest day of the year so far! I'd forgotten my gloves so it made the experience all the colder.

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Cirrus clouds, low sun, cold air...Google tells me you also need thin clouds and same-sized water droplets to produce the iridescence, or corona, as seen here.

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What caught my eye here was the pink glow over the ocean. The glow over the sound was much more intense, but I'd chosen seaside as my vantage point.

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Here is the glowing live oak. No these colors are not made up. They were THERE. And I was there to see them!

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Tiny mouse tracks, and small bird tracks, and the smallest of spirals. Jockey's Ridge.

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What we call sand is mostly eroded quartz; quartz's crystalline structure and the presence of trace minerals make a variety of gemstones, and help create the glow we see in sand and sandstone at sunset.

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Here is the feather ball. It is about 2 inches in diameter. And to me, it is precious, a fabulous find.

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The intensity of glow sometimes lasts only a few minutes, and sometimes even less than that! Here are the pink glowing footprints at Jennette's just last evening.

posted by eturek at 3:48 PM

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(c) 2009-2010 Eve Turek & OBX Connection, all rights reserved - read 547798 times

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