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

Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Making Meaning
For much of my life, I looked for “the meaning of.” More recently, though, I’ve been content instead to try find “the meaning in” – or even, as this week, “the meaning despite.”

When I can’t make sense of my world or the world in general, I’ve learned to engage my senses in the natural world. What I cannot understand or speak I can sometimes smell or hear or see. We’ve had another string of gray, damp days. Fitting, really. I didn’t actually want to venture very far from the news, much as I longed to flee the news entirely. Tuesday dawned. Literally, I suspect; by the time I stepped outside the sun was about 20 minutes high in a clear blue sky. By early afternoon some gorgeous clouds beckoned me northward and seaward. The waves were small but pretty in the light. Tide seemed to be coming in and the wave wash line held winter gleanings: fresh skate cases and small horseshoe crab shells. A broken pen shell, iridescent in the light. A couple of gulls were resting on the beach to the south. A lone stroller scoured the shell beds to my north. I saw one pelican fly by, and then three, and that was all. A lone loon bobbed and dove just beyond the high point of the wave swell.

And then I saw it. The wave just broken onshore sent up a fine mist and in that mist right in front of me for a second was a swath of rainbow. I began to watch intently, eventually squatting to put my eye more on the level with the breaking wave. Break, break, nothing, there! Break, break, break. I learned some things. Some of the waves barely broke at all but sort of sloshed up on shore. No rainbow. Some of the biggest, splashiest waves held no rainbow in their spray, and waves that stirred up a lot of sand held no rainbows either. Smaller waves with finer mist produced some of the brightest flashes.

A couple hours later the western sky briefly glowed pink as the setting sun did its best to light up dark bands of clouds near the horizon. A crescent moon shone overhead. Three pelicans flew by, a blur in my photograph with the slower shutter speed in the low light of dusk.

Here is what I have learned about myself. I need beauty like I need air, like I need water. I starve to death, in my spirit and my soul, without it. I shrivel and wither and become less than I am. I learned this in towering grief and unfortunately have had to remember this many times over. I had to remember this again, just this week.

I’ve been hearing Elton John in my head: my gift is my song and this one’s for you. I’ve been thinking that about these images, about my photography in general. These views and viewpoints, they are part of my gifts. And they are for you.

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Here's a leftover image from earlier in the month: what is believed to be a piece of the wreck of the Irma, on the beach practically across from Yellowhouse.

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And one more, the full moon with Jupiter (that tiny white dot) alongside. I converted to B&W because I think it makes Jupiter easier to see. Pretty neat.

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The clouds beckoned me to come to the ocean, and look north. Beautiful.

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Taken from an access near Wright Memorial. That's Avalon Pier in the distance. The light was pretty on the ocean in late afternoon as the winds picked up.

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This is one of the first little slices of rainbow in the wave spray that I saw.

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When I opened this file to save it for the blog, I noticed the white foam to the right of the misty rainbow looks like a heart. At least to my eye--and heart--it does.

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The cloud cover increased all afternoon and I thought it would obscure the sunset. But we had some late light after all.

posted by eturek at 7:47 PM

Comments [1]

Saturday, December 15, 2012
Marvelous Mattamuskeet
What’s a nature photographer to do when the road to Pea Island is iffy at best and swan and ducks are arriving for their winter vacation in Northeastern North Carolina? How about rising at 0’dark:thirty (read, 4:30 a.m.) last Saturday in order to ride to Mattamuskeet with fellow photographer Ray Matthews and hop aboard a tram for the one-day-a-year opportunity to gain access to parts of the Lake normally closed to the public?!

In all the years Ray and I have known one another, we have never planned a photo outing together, so his invitation was a double treat for me. Turns out his wife Pam who’d planned to ride along could not come so I got one of the limited seats aboard the first tram tour of the day at 7:30 a.m. The Outer Banks weather the day before featured gray and drizzle with more of the same forecast for the next morning. Inland, the forecast was for 30% chance of rain and about 100% chance of fog. Nature photographers like light, but we opted to go anyway. The skies were forecast to begin to clear by later in the morning and we figured we’d just stick around after the tram ride and photograph at other locations around the Lake.

At the new visitor center, I learned that nearly all of the entire continent’s population of tundra swan—typically between 25,000 and 35,000 swan—winter over at Lake Mattamuskeet. Add to that the thousands of snow geese and more than 100,000 ducks and you have a photographer’s paradise just waiting.

Sure enough, early morning was foggy. We could hear the swan long before we could see them. I found the fog beautiful in its own way. The open-air tram driver was accommodating and stopped along the way so we could stand up and photograph an especially beautiful vista, or a group of swan blasting off in the fog. I was delighted to see one white pelican, kingfishers, more than one large group of mixed herons and egrets, and groups of ibis. I did not anticipate seeing eagles but we saw several, some closer and some further.       Once the sun broke through later in the morning, the light was beautiful for photography.

After a long, happy day driving the refuge roads, Ray and I headed toward home and had enough time to visit the docks at Englehard and stop for sunset at Stumpy Point Bay. Both those communities still show visible effects of damage from Hurricane Irene a year ago.

Some Mattamuskeet photos are below, along with two others from recent days here on the Outer Banks. I hope they bring you some small measure of joy.

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We could hear the swan before we could actually see them in the thick fog.

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I love the subtle shades of the marsh in every season. Even in the fog we could see the golds and browns and yellows that spell winter here.

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We saw huge rafts of ducks in the distance and watched several blast-offs on our tram tour.

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I call this Sweet Light Swan Flight. Can you see why?

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This Great Egret was hanging out just past the entrance headed toward the visitor center. (Those who read my last blog know what this is by its legs!)

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Seeing Bald Eagle close by was an unanticipated delight.

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I call this Coming of Age. Pelicans take years to achieve adulthood, marked by the loss of their dark heads and acquisition of their white head feathers. This Englehard pelican is making that transition.

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The sunset on Stumpy Point Bay was beautiful despite the high humidity earlier in the day.

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Earlier this week, a cold front from the northwest produced this dramatic sky over the Sound in mid-morning. Looks like lenticulars at the top!

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I went to the ocean late this afternoon hoping for sunset color. The sky and sea wore subtle and soothing pastels instead of vibrant hues. Perfect for my reflective mood, today.

posted by eturek at 9:37 PM

Comments [3]

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