Ocracoke is not a place I come to to be entertained or which provides distractions from my life. Ocracoke is a place that extends an invitation to rest, lean back, lean into, and embrace life. It has offers me the opportunity to live my life more fully.
When I come I bring my notebook and guitar for song writing, an in-progress-quilt, embroidery projects, and books I’ve been wanting to read, hardback books (this year: In the Fall by Jeffrey Lent and Lila by Marilynne Robinson).
My husband and I walk places together, we do what we do together, we talk or don’t talk, we take the time to look at the sunset. We’d rather be on the porch than inside; we’d rather walk the narrow streets and lanes than drive them. The sun wakes us up and by the time the sun sets we are tired.
We go to the shops and look at the wonderful art and craft created by those inspired by the sea. We buy fresh caught bluefish and Spanish mackerel dredging the fillets with corn meal and flour and pan frying them for dinner.
I love that Ocracoke is a working sea village community. The people in the shops and stores are people whose lives are rooted here. The graves of their fore bearers are behind fences along the road, visible yet private. These consecrated sites remind me that the sandy ground upon which I walk is holy. Ocracoke is not anywherebeach.com.
The periodic blast of the ferry horn lets me and everyone know that it takes some effort and planning to come or leave. Once we have driven onto the ferry for the two plus-hour ride over water from Swan Quarter or Cedar Island I am no longer in control. I cannot slow down or speed up the trip. I have placed my life in another’s hands and trust that the captain knows the wind and the waves and will bring us to Silver Lake safely. On the trip home I am filled with an immediate sense of loss and nostalgia as the ferry pulls away from the harbor and I gradually lose sight of the island.
We like to come the week of The OcraFolk Festival which we found quite by accident one year. Now we arrange to come that first full weekend in June. We have been introduced to wonderful groups by the festival: The Steel Wheels, The Honey Dewdrops, Mandolin Orange to name a few. I love that folks are invited to go to the local churches and no music is scheduled for Sunday morning at 11:00.
We are almost through our week here but are already planning on coming back next year and will book our reservation as we leave. We also wonder if, this year, we might start at new tradition: coming in the fall, perhaps October. Ocracoke has left its mark on us. My screen saver is a picture of the porch of the cottage we rent. I leave with a new song, good progress on my quilt, and 3/4s of the way through one book. We carry memories along with glass beads bought from the new bead shop and a climbing decorative frog from Island Ragpicker. Maybe we are beginning to leave a mark ourselves: Patty, the fishmonger recognized us; we have met our landlady, Trudy; we have a new friend in Peter who honored me by interviewing me giving me the opportunity to sing my songs on WOVV. I am starting to think that our story, our relationship, with this special place is just beginning.