Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Walk Along Bird Island

My husband and I decided to kill a few hours prior to our dinner reservations with walk along Sunset Beach. The pleasure of this beautiful place inspired us to head towards the South Carolina border and cover as much as we could of Bird Island before we got tired. The broad and flat expanse of sand and the interesting creatures we kept spotting in the dunes beckoned us on and on for miles. We passed one or two lone cyclists spinning easily along, presumably returning from a quick trip to the border. It was quite a while before we got tired enough to turn back.

Bird Island is a perfect illustration of the dynamic nature of North Carolina barrier islands, by virtue of the fact that it actually is no longer a separate island. Only as far back as the 1990's, Bird Island was separated from Sunset Beach by a tidal creek so you could only walk onto it at low tide. However, hurricanes and other factors pushed along the constantly-moving sands, filling in the creek and merging the islands of Sunset Beach and Bird Island into one.

Some ways further down the beach, we spotted the famed Kindred Spirits mailbox that we had read about online. It is indeed filled with a large collection of notebooks and journals, and a good supply of writing instruments, and so we paid our respects by reading a few entries left by those who had gone before us. An inquisitive crab kept popping out of his little hold in the dunes under a nearby bench to check on our progress. While there, we turned to look back and were able to view the town of Sunset Beach in the distance. Seeing it so compact and low-lying, tucked in behind the dune line, made it easy to imagine it again as a quaint little fishing village, blissfully isolated from the frenetic and often cynical modern world from which we all come. Hard not to develop an affection for the place, even for us newcomers.

As we started our return, the setting sun warmed our backs (This beach does run in a South SouthWest direction, after all.) and we followed our shadows back to the pier.