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  • John Diamond-Nigh

Good morning, #sea

Updated: Nov 3, 2019


Beyond the cotton fields and pine forests, and after that the turtle-spotted swamps, you enter a vast pane of charred, chopping waters, threaded with causeways. The wind is still restless. A gale has just swept through.


North we go through #Nags Head, #Kill Devil Hills, #Kitty Hawk to #Corolla#Joseph Conrad names. These storms move so quickly that scratches of blue sky now appear above us. When we arrive, preceded by an hour or two by our friends, and step out on the deck, the #ocean, thirty yards away, is still a growling mess. The blue has gone. No one is on the #beach.


The #eagle. There are so many #birds, so many currents of birds, their flapping dispersions, instant re-groupings. Cormorants, sandpipers, crows, seagulls, pelicans, ducks, running on the sand or taking off like ductile toy airplanes. One doesn’t think of bald eagles here by the sea, but drinking our coffee next morning, Pat points out an enormous bird that’s just settled on the peak of the neighbor’s roof, fifteen feet away, wind-scruffed, imperious as it shifts to taste the flavors of the wind. So close. That eye and that curled barb of the beak are like ciphers of some old, old majesty our world has nearly forgotten. Then spreading its wings with the grandeur of a small continent, it swoops toward the beach and the sea. Frank Lloyd Wright called one of his greatest houses #Wingspread. That float, that spread, easy now to see why.


The #horse. #Wild horses, of course, inhabit the #Outer Banks. On my long walk each morning, north toward Virginia, I don’t always see them. Other mornings, I see quite a few. This morning a single horse comes down from the dunes and we walk together for half a mile along the shore. We talk. Sometimes he stops, turns his head and looks at me as if to say, you really think I could answer that. He’s glad that horses don’t have cameras. Tourists come (snort), they never look, they #picture. The sea makes them anxious. As we walk, his hooves make one more #pattern in the sand, one more script in this world of infinite #languages.


The #island. I don’t always wake in time, but this morning I wake just as the eastern #horizon is at its best, red as Cretan poppies, simmering and aglow, the great molten shoulder of the sun just under the sea. I can make out three silhouettes of islands, way way out, floating like pink cut-outs on the line of the horizon. Odd. Two islands look about right, but the third is larger, rising with vertical walls like a fortress. The contour on top looks like mountains interspersed with architectural forms, spires and domes and city streets. It is not a cloud, it is not a ship. Even odder, the silhouette has no shading, no dimension, like a gray/pink pane of alabaster laser-cut in the shape of an island. I’m stumped, but who cares? Enjoy. It feels like an #older existence, #half-legend by now–Odyssey islands, islands Poussin might have painted. At breakfast, Gerry confirms that there’s nothing out there. No islands at all.


The #horizon. The great #photographer #Hiroshi Sugimoto, picture-taker of sea-horizons all over the world, says the image of the horizon between sea and sky is the sole earthly spectacle that has not changed from what our earliest ancestors would have seen. Here we can see through their primordial eyes. On our last day in Corolla, the world is cool, blue and preternaturally pristine. Multitudes of pelicans skim and shuttle their voyages over the water. Rising, falling, scattering then falling into formation. Who decides who the leader will be today? The horizon looks like jewelry, an edge of honed, blue crystal from north to south. The stars at night, the horizon by day have been #gifts this week of what is #infinite, what is #eternal–concepts that in themselves are too large to grasp and so need the interpolation of beauty like this.

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