My husband and I spent three days this week in Salter Path, NC, on a spiritual retreat. Salter Path is on a long barrier island that runs west to east, looking south into the Atlantic Ocean. The surf was rough enough to be fun without being scary. Strong sea breezes ripple the sea oats that create dunes along the shore. Walking and swimming here is a prayer.
A great egret flies across the pond at the retreat center.
A short walk to the south leads to the ocean. The sandy path is shaded by the twisting branches of live oaks that interweave to form a dense canopy.
To the north the path to the sound winds past a pond and through a maritime forest that includes bald cypresses, hollies, live oaks and the occasional Atlantic white cedar, ending up at a salt marsh glowing yellow-green in the sun. Ibises feed along the edges of the salt marsh. Oysters grow in clusters in the shallows.
Seashore mallow, a relative of the hibiscus, grows near the edges of the pond. It's also known as marsh mallow :)
The balls of bald cypress are textured and a striking shade of pale blue-green.
It's been a privilege within the last three weeks to experience the vastly different natural communities of the mountains and coast. We live about a three hours drive from each. I thought the beach was hot, but as we drove away from the coast, the thermometer in the car climbed relentlessly from 93 degrees to 106 as we neared Raleigh. Sadly, it's the part of the Southern summer that might as well be winter for all the time we spend indoors. So I will dream of cool-warm salty water and the embrace of the waves.