Monday, March 31, 2014

British Cemetery

How odd it is to see the Union Jack over a corner of this foreign field in Ocracoke. Poetry to the rescue!


Rupert Brooke. 1887–1915


The Soldier


If I should die, think only this of me;

That there's some corner of a foreign field

That is for ever England. There shall be

In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;

A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,

Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,

A body of England's breathing English air,

Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,

A pulse in the eternal mind, no less

Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;

Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;

And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,

In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

It happened in 1942 that British ships were helping defend the US coast from German submarines which were sinking a ship a day before the Allies got their convoy defences sorted out. His Majesty's Trawler Bedfordshire was on Atlantic patrol off Ocracoke and sunk with all hands.

Four bodies washed up on Ocracoke of 37 killed, which included one member of the Royal Canadian Navy serving on the ship who disappeared. Two of the washed up dead were identified, the other two are listed merely as "Unknown" on the official Commonwealth Graves headstones. The four crosses were made on Ocracoke to mark the graves and they were replaced by the "proper" headstones provided by the Commonwealth Graves Commission found on foreign fields worldwide where British servicemen have died. Another unknown body presumed from the Bedfordshire washed up on Hatteras and a sixth managed to wash up at Swan Quarter on the mainland. The rest disappeared, their fate unknown till the U-Boat responsible was captured and it's logs were revealed to the Allies.

It is a lovely spot on a fresh early Spring morning.

On a quiet backwater of a street in a tiny fishing village there is something very touching to think of the young US Coastguardsmen coming out here to tend these long lost graves and keeping them looking so well cared for, so far from home.

This is a seafaring community so a watery grave is not an uncommon fate. There are graves all over Ocracoke, in gardens, in the woods, by the side of the road. I love cemeteries and this town has some lovely headstones.

A great spot to be alone and think.

With Cheyenne I am never entirely alone. Good dog.

Rupert Brooke - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Springer's Point

Ocracoke has one of everything including a walk in the woods.

I read a discussion on Ocracoke Island Journal: Dolphins about Springer's Point in the comments and I thoroughly enjoyed the way they put down Springer's Point. It's horrid! Don't go!



It's a narrow strip of public land winding through the woods.



There's an old well near this old cemetery and not much else to see.

The sign to the beach is a bit of a joke, as either half of the loop takes you to the water and back again.

Key West lays lots of claims to pirates but Ocracoke is the real thing. Blackbeard lived sailed and died here.

He was actually killed right off this beach. Ocracoke's Most Famous Visitor - Cape Hatteras National Seashore (U.S. National Park Service) The real thing.



Like I said: it's a horrid place. Don't go!


Saturday, March 29, 2014


I like Ocracoke because it's a small village accessible only water, and because it reminds me of Key West as it may have been two centuries ago. Like modern Key West with it's irritating chickens, Ocracoke has it's ducks, creatures that I like rather more than chickens. Like Key West they also hold up traffic.

The heart of the village is Silver Lake which isn't a lake at all but a really deep seawater bight. This is a fishing village as much as it can be so no surprise that the water is right there in the middle of it.

The village is an ill defined collection of mostly wooden homes set in what appears to be a grove of live oak trees. Homes are large by Key West standards and most lots are mainland size. On the north side of the island are a number of large rental type homes on canals but when you think of Ocracoke Village this is what you see in your mind's eye:

Howard Street is a classic unpaved meandering path that cuts through the middle of the village.

Could you live here? If you had a decent year round job maybe. If you had a private income, sure.

There are no chains in Ocracoke no familiar brands and no neon. Your cellphone works and there is internet access in most of the hotels and bed and breakfasts. Out of season Ocracoke is very quiet ...

...but you can see a lot of activity in the making for the all-too-short summer.

Ocracoke gets daily deliveries like anyplace USA, except when the weather holds up the boats, as happened last week when the winds closed the Hatteras passage for several hours.

Like Key West Ocracoke has one of everything including its own community radio station. In Key West Konk radio had to go to internet broadcasting only for want of support...

I wish Ocracoke had a better defined village center but it's not even incorporated as a town so hanging loose is the theme here.

There is a first rate Mexican good truck next to the main grocery store and sole gas station.

Eduardo made my wife killer chilaquiles for breakfast. Finding hot coffee at eight in the morning was tougher... Eduardo's coffee maker was broken. Life on an island out of season.

For evening drinks we went to this amazing craft beer, wine and gourmet deli store and bar famous for getting people together on the island. Zillie's is open year round and it's a great place to hang out and meet strangers and chat.

The fancy out of season eatery is Dajio Restaurant and Bar on Ocracoke Island a place we remembered fondly. Tempura flounder and roasted root vegetables for lunch and delicious. "Doug And Judy In Ocracoke."

I like the warmth and generous friendliness at Dajio's, with indoor and outdoor seating and an attached funky dark bar.

There's a Sheriff's deputy stationed unobtrusively on the island representing Hyde County. There's also a small medical clinic and an ambulance.

The school teaches all grades through high school and enjoys a great reputation for being the modern equivalent of a one room school house. I saw quite a few spandex cyclists in town braving the forty degree temperatures for a spin up Highway 12, the only road, all thirteen miles of it past the airstrip and the campground where locals gather to play football.

The other kind that is attributable I guess to the relatively large Latino population. Soccer anyone?

It's a great little village with some superb beaches.

This place gives the Keys a run for their money.