Since today is August 4th, I though it would be germane to write about July 4th, and when I say July 4th, I mean the whole collection of days surrounding it, including the 7th, which is when this image was taken on Bird Island in North Carolina. It’s the southern most barrier island on the NC coast, and a good portion of it is a nature preserve: a few miles of uninterrupted, undeveloped beach, dunes, and marsh. The beach itself was pancake flat when I was there, and I’d estimate two or three hundred yards from dune to surf at low tide. Because the beach was so flat, the receding tide had left it smooth and packed, and in perfect condition to ride a bike on. In fact, recumbent tricycles can be rented in the closest town, and the only signs of humanity on many stretches of the beach are the lazily zig-zagging curlicues their tires leave behind. Someone also though it would be quite a gas to just go around and around and around in a circle, leaving something not unlike a crop circle out there on the sand.
The island is the kind of place where you can go and see no one. At many times while we were there, the beach was empty ahead of us. Every once in a while a biker would appear, zip past, and the disappear in the distance.
I’ve spent a lot of time on the NC coast, mostly up around Emerald Isle and Topsail Island areas, and more recently around Holden Beach. I remember the first few times we went to Emerald Isle, and it was so undeveloped. Some condos here and there, a sprinkling of beach houses. Over the years we watched the area become more popular and more crowded, and the empty space between the houses disappeared. I went back to Emerald Isle a couple of ago, and the current level of beachfront development was a shock in comparison to what I had last seen, which, even at that point, was fairly dense development.
So Bird Island was a contrast to all of that. I was only there for a couple of hours, but I think going to a place like this every so often reminds us that beach (or a forest, or a mountain, or a field, or a ________) absent of [others’] human presence is a rare treat, and that treat helps us appreciate better both the partying bustle of a July-4th-packed beach, as well as the nature that was sacrificed to give us our places of retreat, celebration, and camaraderie.
All images from a single roll of expired 120 Portra 160VC, shot on my Bronica SQ.