Thursday, September 17, 2009
Sunday was a day of refracted sunlight and benign clouds that rolled across the azure skies of the Outer Banks without threatening cause any serious damage to anyone's mood.
When I first woke up the beach house felt the same as always. The holiday light still seeped through the plantation shutters in the morning, illuminating memories of long, lazy weekends in the days when I had more ahead of me.
But for the first time in nine years the familiar family portraits had gone from the bedroom walls and heirlooms were poking out of boxes on the floor. Order had been replaced with uncertainty.
Visiting my inlaw's home hasn't always been a pleasant experience and I confess there have been times when my foot has slipped off the accelerator as soon as we turned into their street and the car almost stalled.
But the idea of them selling up, leaving and searching for a cheap house in the dead heart of North Carolina after all these years filled me with sadness.
When I climed to the roof deck and looked over the sea and Sound, I wondered if it would be the last time I would gaze beyond the weather vane at the gentle roof contours upon a quiet Sunday by the sea.
And then, as if by instinct, I drove down the main highway averting my eyes from the neon signs, the strains of Kate Bush's Cloudbursting driving me onward from the stereo.
I turned off the highway into Jockey's Ridge State Park, where a vast sand dune towers over the flat inlets of these barrier islands.
With the sun still low in the sky and the clouds scurrying overhead, Jockey's Ridge was almost deserted.
Recent rains had formed lakes in the sand that weren't here the last time I walked across the dunes. Now they gleamed in the sand like circular washing basins that trapped the clouds and turned their fleecy undersides dark with refraction.
So I walked and I took photographs and I thought and felt the morning drift away as the sand warmed up on my feet.
And I wondered where the sand on the dunes would be when we were all displaced and gone and mankind had been rendered as insignificant as a glassy grain in the egg timer of history.