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I'm a woman entering "the third chapter" and fascinated by the journey.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Barrier Island Sanctuaries

First off, I get it. Barrier islands were never meant to be permanently inhabited by humans, as indicated by the name. Barrier islands, however they came to be (and scientists disagree on the method of their formation), serve to protect coastal areas from tidal surges. I spent several years of my childhood on one and remember hurricane evacuations, after which we went back onto the island and shoveled the dead fish and seaweed from under our stilt house. (In the Sixties, back before high-rise condos took over, beach houses were modest structures elevated on pilings. Quite ordinary people could afford them. Sigh.) Barrier islands are environmentally fragile, endangered by global warming, and lack any moral justification for the taxpayer-financed flood insurance policies that encourage people to build on them. But still...
there is just something about knowing that the next land mass is North Africa.
The barrier island that holds the communities of Indiatlantic and Melbourne Beach is home as well to several parks identified by Brevard County as Environmentally Endangered lands. Besides the beaches that draw large numbers of humans and sea turtles to the island, the county has protected its dune communities

and maritime hammocks. I learned recently that the word "hammock" comes from a native term for a cool shady place, and compared to the blazing sun of the dunes, the hammocks are another world.
Over my decades in the Mid-Ohio Valley, I have developed a bias in favor of the lush greenery of northern forests, but subtropical forests often have a primeval feel,

filled as they are with interesting shapes. I think this tree is a gumbo-limbo (and isn't that a great name?)

The middle of the day is not generally a good time for birds, but we could hear them calling through the thick growth. Some I knew from the north, like the chickadees, but the screeks of ospreys were new to me. Unfortunately, they moved too fast for me to get any pictures. Luckily, this Gulf frittillary held still long enough to be photographed.
Yes, barrier islands are sanctuaries for all kinds of life. I hope they remain with us for a while.


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