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Posts tagged ‘North Carolina’

Irene Created a Change

The Night Before Irene

The water was calm with a fiery sunset the night before Hurricane Irene invited herself to the North Carolina coast.  Slight breeze with humidity high gave me the sense that it was hotter than the temperature showed.  I watched as boaters and fishermen either pulled their boats from the water or attempted to tie them down for the upcoming storm.  Several of the locals mentioned that they were not leaving their homes and that this was not the first hurricane they had to ride out.

I was visiting friends and decided to leave the day of the hurricane.  Travel was satisfying, no significant stops or complicated accidents, to the western part of the state.  There was more traffic heading west than east as I observed the cloud cover getting heavier in my rearview mirror, which for a weekend, that was unusual, since most folks would be heading to the beach for those final weeks of summer vacation.

I kept an ear to the radio, and once home, an eye on the weather channel as the outer rain-bands of the storm showed the coastal folks of down east that Irene had arrived.  Couple of phone calls early on gave me false confidence that those on the east coast were doing well.  After the early morning hours, little did I know as I watched the weather broadcast, that the storm would tarry for the day?   Irene’s back end of the storm was an angry departure causing several water surges in the rivers and sound areas, even 70 to 80 mile wind gusts in the inland counties.

Unable to reach several friends with power outages and phones dead, I worried.  Once the storm moved north on the eastern coast line and out of North Carolina, I was amazed at the damage several faced in our state.  Hurricane Irene, for a category one, left a path of destruction for so many from the Outer Banks to the inland communities of Eastern North Carolina.  I was able, after days of worrying, to hear from several as they shared their experience, their burdens of repairs, and tears of loss, but they all seemed grateful that they had made it through the storm.

Mother Nature is an element of living we lack control.  The earthquakes, tornadoes, and hurricanes that come into our lives, not only change the inlets, roadways, rivers and landscape, but change our lives as well and the path we’re traveling towards tomorrow.  They affect the rich and the poor, the employed and unemployed, our cities, towns, and all communities.

I will say, in my opinion, a devastating trauma like this can humble, but yet it brings people to together as a community.  So many are facing some difficult times, not only North Carolina, but hopefully, those neighbors, friends and family will come to the aid as needed.  God Bless each and every one that has been touched by Hurricane Irene and any other power of Mother Nature that has come unexpectedly.

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Lasting Creatively Told Stories

Coastal Moments

As I continue to work on my next project of writing a novel, I have enjoyed remembering the various legends and ghost stories of the area in which I grew up.  A lot of the stories can be found in print or on the web, but I have been unable to find the story in print that was once told, almost 40 years ago, by a local near Sneads Ferry.

Many of the details are foggy, as I was truly young, but I remember that storyteller, aged from the winds of the coast, telling of an undying love between a sailor and his wife.  The sailor was aboard a merchant ship that sailed the shores of Virginia and North Carolina.  Somehow the sailor saves the woman’s life from being betrothed to a wicked, treacherous man of Virginia.   One evening, he sneaks her aboard the ship to set sail for North Carolina.  He cares for her and promises her the opportunity of freedom to find her true love.  Once in North Carolina, she is happy and filled with dreams.   She becomes his bride, but claims it is not enough and promises to repay the gift.  Of course, before she can repay, she dies at a young age, and I was told she was buried with a frown of despair due to unfinished business with her husband.   As the story goes, the sailor remained a sad loner that lived near her grave and lost meaning to living without her love.  Later or perhaps years, her husband refused to leave the area near his home and wife’s grave when a storm was approaching and with warning.  A hurricane swept the coastline and took the man from his home to be claimed by the sea, but he grabbed a hold of wood that was floating by and was washed ashore.  As I was told, it was her coffin that he had grabbed, and when opened, she had a smile upon her face because she had given back the same gift and saved her husband.  It was her love that saved him that day and gave meaning to continue to exist until old age gave him the opportunity to join his wife.  The local shared as the ending to the story that it has been sighted, a couple hand-in-hand, both smiling as they gaze into each other’s eyes, walk into the waves, and then disappear.

These stories and legends can stay with me from the memories of how they were creatively told.  These stories of the past can give meaning to the present.  This story of love goes beyond the fairytale of “happily ever after”, but gives substance and purpose to love.  It gives meaning to a Love that can rescue and offers the promise to give, which touches the heart to defend, preserve and protect that which can live forever.

Vengeance, Creatively Told

Flaming Reflections

I have noticed as I read and write, an ingredient that it used for conflict, suspense, and even justice, is vengeance.  The act of claiming or the need for satisfaction, or feeling compelled to receive payment of fairness.  It can grab my attention in a story, as I follow along the plotting, planning and scheming to prove purpose as seen from their point of view.  We, as readers, may not always agree, and sometimes pull for the other side, but the point is that revenge can add to the story.

It also adds to the legends and ghost stories that continue to be told over and over to each generation.  I can remember a ghost story of a burning ship in New Bern that supposedly continues to reappear on the Neuse River a certain evening each year.  Of course, I have never been able to find the local storyteller that knew that exact time, but shared it happens during the summer.

As the story was told when I was a youth, the sailing ship was carrying a group of German Palatines that were sailing from England in 1710 to settle in their new location, New Bern.  The ship was under the command of an unfavorable captain and crew.  The captain had the reputation of being a wicked crook that would steal, cheat or swindle without a second thought.  So, the prosperous group of German Palatines decided to pretend they were poor and so, hid their treasures of gold coins and silver dishes below from the captain and crew.  When the German Palatines were able to see land and were told by the captain that they needed to bring their belongings up from the hold in preparation of landing, they did.  The captain and crew were able to see their wealth.  Quickly, the captain came up with a plan.  He told the group that the ship could not come into landing until tomorrow.  The German Palatines were disappointed to wait another day, but took their processions back down from the deck and soon were laid to rest, sound asleep with visions of their destination when they awaken.

That evening, when everything was quiet and still down below, the captain shared his plan with the crew to obtain the German Palatines’ riches, by killing each and every one of them, including women and children.  They would set the ship to fire that would be filled with the dead, and escape in the lifeboats with all the treasures of gold and silver.

The ambush was quick; many of the German Palatines were murdered in their sleep.  The crew felt everything had gone as planned, as they pushed off in the small boats and could see the ship burning.  When they were some distance from the ship, they turned to look back.  They could see the ship on fire, the blaze was getting bigger and brighter, but the ship did not sink.  And then they witnessed the ship moving towards them.  It is said, the ship burned all night.  It would sail along the waterway and then return to the location of where the murders had happened.  By dawn, the burning blaze was gone and the ship still stood, fully erect with its spars, sails, masts fully unconsumed.  Everything was in its place; the only thing was that it was blackened and charred.  But at sundown, the ship would reappear in flames, but yet it would not burn.

The captain and crew became frightened and abandoned their small boats on the bank and supposedly fled into the forest.  There they stayed the captain and crew.  They and their descendants lived on their “ill-gotten spoils.”

It is said, to this day, the crime of the murders has not been avenged, so on that certain evening, during the summer, once a year, the burning ship appears on the waters off of New Bern and I am told, it will continue until the blood of the German Palatines has been paid for in kind.

Inspired to Create

Ocracoke Lighthouse

I appreciate the opportunity to take a vacation, get away, reconnect with family and friends, and relax without worries.  I truly believe in many vacations throughout the year to clear the cobwebs out of the head.  I have discovered on vacations that I can be perfectly happy with the basics of few clothes, walking, writing, taking pictures and laughter with family and friends. In today’s society, it is encouraged to work, work, and work, but stress can take its toll on the mind and body.  Some are blessed to find a job they truly enjoy, and the feeling of productivity can be inspiring, but others are thankful for employment, and remain in constant search for something missing in their lives.    That search for comfort, excitement, and acceptance.    So, what if I could find a job near my favorite vacation spot, which would financially support, living in the area I enjoy?  That’s an idea!

Well, everyday living does not always match the way we would dream, but I can put those dreams into writing and be the character I create.  I can still make time to walk and pretend I’m walking near my favorite scene.  I can remind myself when I am working and worrying over bills that can stress me; I am putting aside funds that will be used wisely for my next vacation and adventure.

It is those unique moments with family, friends, and favorite adventures that will add strength, courage, and the ability to dream that makes those typical, stressful, working days seem worth the effort.

Ocracoke Adventure

My last adventure took me to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Ocracoke Island.  I enjoyed the opportunity to enjoy the sun and beach.  It’s a place to walk, bike ride, to fish and to socialize with locals and others vacationing from different parts beyond the island.  I found interest to review the history of the island related to the state in which I live.  Ocracoke Island is a barrier island about 16 miles long and can only be obtained by ferry.  Blackbeard the Pirate made the island known as his hangout and hideaway.   Blackbeard sailed from the Caribbean to the Virginia Capes robbing ships. In November 1718, Blackbeard the Pirate was said to have been captured near Ocracoke Island by Lieutenant Robert Maynard of the British Navy. The Governor of Virginia sent the Lt Maynard to command a sloop and find Blackbeard.  It is said; he killed the pirate in a bloody duel, captured 15 crewmen and Blackbeard’s head was taken triumphantly to Hampton.  Blackbeard’s death supposedly marked the end of a large-scale of piracy on the Atlantic Coast.  So, when the island was established as a port around 1715 to promote trade and navigation around the coast, it became safer as a shipping port.  Around the late 1700’s the Ocracoke Lighthouse was built and remains to be the oldest continuous lighthouse of North Carolina.  In the 1800’s, Ocracoke Island became a vital shipping port.

Fort Ocracoke

There’s more to the history of Ocracoke Island than just the legends of pirates.  The island has served as an asset during the Revolutionary War with its hazardous waters that prevented the British warships from guarding the inlet.  There are evidences of a fort submerged in the Ocracoke inlet.  There is also the British Cemetery of four British seamen of the armed trawler HMS Bedfordshire.  The HMS Bedfordshire served, on loan to the US Navy from Great Britain to help protect our shores during the early part of World War II.

British Cemetery

I enjoy listening to locals share stories and legends passed down related to the wild ponies.  The wild ponies that roam the island were supposedly brought over by Sir Walter Raleigh and left on the Roanoke Island at the same time of the mysterious colony that disappeared, also known as The Lost Colony.

Well, I guess I could go on and on, but I’ll bring my vacation to an end as I return to the daily responsibilities of home.  I’m inspired, it’s time to create and have some more moments in my journey to treasure!

Creative Storytellers

Stories of the Past

Each day brings new opportunities.  This morning was a pleasant break in the heat of June.   The weather provided a refreshing morning to enjoy the outdoors.  Taking a walk gets the blood pumping and thoughts racing.  I think about stories told to me way back when, stories I’ve read, and stories I am writing.

Several years ago in a small town of the south, a house was leveled after the property went to the state with no family to inherit.  A surprising discovery of a body was uncovered that was buried under the house.  The body had been there over 40 years, and rumor was he had run off with his mistress.

That news article has now given me ideas to expand on the story.  Small towns of the south can be filled with mystery.  Maybe that is why there are so many legends of pirates, especially Blackbeard and ghost stories with no explanation.   Some folks have captured these legends and stories for others to read, but I will have to say when I was a child, they were more intriguing when I heard the old-timers tell them on the waterfront.   Their accent, pauses, and facial expressions brought those stories to life, and they were embedded into my memories as if I were there watching the events play out.  I don’t hear those stories told as much these days, but I still enjoy remembering and sharing with my children.  Today with our technology, I can Google those stories, but the realness of being told has faded over the years.  It wasn’t like the horror stories and movies of today, no scare of death.  These stories, filled with mystery and unexplained results could keep me on the edge of my seat, focused and wanting to hear more and more.  It is a time that has passed, but still alive in the memories of some to be shared.

Within the state of North Carolina, I found the legend of the small town of Bath to be intriguing.  A curse placed upon the town by Reverend Whitefield.  A town that was prospering with its ports and merchants and supposedly the corrupting influence of Blackbeard the pirate (legend has it; that his gold is still buried there), this Reverend was not welcomed with what he had to say to the people.  The folks of the town chased him from Bath and told him that he was never to return.  Legend has it; he brushed the dust of the town from his shoes and cursed the town that it will never grow.  Today, the town remains small with exceedingly little growth.   It was the town of Little Washington that began to thrive with its merchants and ports after the town of Bath was cursed.

I can remember listening to the story being told, and it took longer to be told than written.  I truly miss the storytellers of the past and their creative inspiration that gave way to my imagination that left a lasting memory.

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