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Stunning Bug Catching Plan
|Saturday, 17 April 2004|
|written by Teresa|
We frequently get emails asking how we finance our way of life and it is a topic that has become of increasing concern to us in the early months of this year. The software consulting that Sterling has done in the past has for various reasons dried to a trickle and we now face the challenge of finding other ways of making a living or ultimately of having to return to a stationary house and real jobs. The thought of this second option fills us with dread and we are desperately scrambling about looking for options and cooking up hair-brained schemes. The latest of these emerged during a walk in the Croatan National Forest where the dragonflies have come out in their masses. Sterling had the brilliant idea of capturing one and relocating it to the camper where it could deal with any flies or bugs that make it inside. While our fly herding skills have improved during our eighteen-month apprenticeship, they are still sadly lacking when compared with the efficiency of the dual winged wonders and this brainwave seemed like an altogether splendid notion. It then occurred to us that maybe our financial future could be secured through a business built on the breeding, training and sale of the prettier varieties as fly catchers extraordinaire: small diamante collars, personality outlines and breeding pedigree would personalise each sale, attracting customers both young and old. As you can tell, things are desperate.
The National Forests can be wonderfully peaceful places to pass a few days but in the undeveloped and isolated camping areas with no enforced regulations, the quietness can be instantly shattered by the arrival of just one noisy group. Two such experiences in as many weeks left us temporarily resenting the invention of both generators and radios and having few charitable thoughts towards their owners. The second group, just twenty feet away, seemed surprised when I appeared at two thirty in the morning to ask them to turn down their incredibly loud music; it was as though their consciousness of the world extended no further than a two-foot diameter around their little group.
A major thing to be said in favour of the forests is that they offer an almost unlimited supply of dead and down wood, some of it in the form of ready chopped remnants left by others who come out with their chain saws. Our tools are a little more of the manual variety comprising a Sven collapsible saw and a maul that Sterling likes to swing with some gusto. We have become particularly skilled at wood scavenging, Sterling's biceps are developing nicely and the wood compartment is full. Maybe things aren't too bad after all.
At Neuse River, one of the developed campgrounds in Croatan, the torrential rain of the previous days continues. The noise in the camper is unbelievable; we abandon a DVD, the battle of turning up the volume a lost cause and instead gaze out through the rivulets streaming down the windows. The foreboding clouds race across the sky, their dark masses sporadically illuminated by the sudden flash of lightening, our ears assaulted by the sharp crack of thunder.
The following morning, pale yellow pollen floats on puddles leaving a ghostly outline as the water subsides. In the warm humid weather after the storm the reptiles are in evidence and we have a number of encounters while out walking. Coming across a boardwalk straddling a singularly unpleasant piece of swamp, we spot a couple of Banded Water Snakes, one of which reacts by hiding under the planks but the bolder of the pair comes to have a good look, giving us the opportunity for an excellent view. Not long after, Sterling only just manages to stop me treading on a Fowler's Toad that is sitting in the middle of the footpath. This is another reptile given to posing for photographs and we get a thoroughly good look at his beautifully patterned body before he hops off into the undergrowth. A second squashed beastie is only just avoided by further speedy reactions from Sterling who stops me flattening a snake, doing a twig impersonation, on a paved section of path. The third photo session of the day commences and it is not until a couple of days later, while trying to identify our find that we realise our mistake. This is no snake, it's an Eastern Glass Lizard, no limbs but the tell tale ear hole and lateral groove. Such things always please us.
The sea was calling again and so we turned east toward the coast and Carolina Beach State Park. We were inordinately pleased with the place; a well spaced campground in amongst sunlight dappled trees and an opportunity to burn some of our well found wood; a reasonable system of trails across old dunes covered in Turkey Oak and Long Leaf Pine, leading down and along the estuary where the water lapped gently on the shore; a picturesque marina, boats perfectly reflected in the still waters.
Returning from a walk one afternoon we sat mindlessly in our reclining chairs gazing up into the treetops where I spotted what we initially took to be an owl perched high up on a branch. The binoculars proved us wrong, revealing a Black-Crowned Night Heron dozing the daylight hours away, waiting for dusk. Further scrutiny revealed a second bird in the next tree over and when they finally roused themselves as the light faded, a third one revealed itself as they took to the wing in unison.
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