Islands of the Morning
October 16, 2007
I’ve just returned from vacation, including two weeks on North Carolina’s Outer Banks – swimming in the ocean, birdwatching, walking in the woods, and exploring the mainland swamps. Each morning we walked down to the beach to greet the sun:
We walked in the complex old-growth maritime deciduous forest at Nags Head Woods, and wandered in the younger, denser, and more tropical palmetto forest at Buxton Woods:
On the mainland, we explored pocosins (pond pines, sphagnum moss, pitcher plants) and cypress groves draped with Spanish moss. At Merchants Millpond State Park, we rented a canoe for a dreamy paddle around a lake filled with groves of bald cypress and tupelos:
These are Water Tupelos (Nyssa aquatica), which are more common in the Mississippi Valley. They have large purple berries and their big leaves turn bright yellow before falling. The Swamp Tupelo (N. biflora) is more common in the N.C. coastal plain swamps. It likes slightly drier environments but still needs to have wet feet. It has small blue berries and its leaves turn bright red. Like the swamp-loving bald cypress, both species have swollen trunks. But instead of “knees” like the cypress, tupelos a serpentine network of surface roots.
I have many more photos, notes, and memories to incorporate into new art projects, but for now I’m still sorting them out – and catching up with yardwork!