Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Figs

Figs are abundant on Ocracoke, and many island residents are busy this time of year putting up preserves. In 2014 Hurricane Arthur (July 4) nearly destroyed fig production. So far this year we have seen a bumper crop.

As a result, Village Craftsmen again has preserved figs for sale.














Fig preserves are tasty spread on your morning toast, are the main ingredient in a delicious island cake (http://villagecraftsmen.blogspot.com/2005/08/island-fig-cake.html), make a popular appetizer when served with goat cheese, and are included in many traditional and innovative recipes.

We have a new supply of this year's fig preserves in pint and half pint jars, ready to ship immediately. Order your fig preserves here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/figpreserves.htm. You will be glad you did!

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter tells the delightful story of the 19th century "Stovepipe Hat" wreck. It has been told for years in books & magazines, but it probably never happened. You can read the story (and my research) here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news062115.htm.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Beware!

Cousin Dallie stopped by Friday morning with a small critter in a jar.


















It turns out this is the larva of the moth Megalopyge opercular, and is considered the most venomous caterpillar in the US. This cute little thing, called a Puss Caterpillar, had just stung Dallie several times. (No need to worry; Dallie went to the clinic, was treated, and "only" suffered rash & stinging.)

This is what Wikipedia has to say about this caterpillar: "The inch-long larva is generously coated in long, luxuriant hair-like setae, making it resemble a tiny Persian cat, the characteristic that presumably gave it the name 'puss.' It is variable in color, from downy grayish-white to golden-brown to dark charcoal gray. It often has a streak of bright orange running longitudinally.

"The 'fur' on early-stage larvae is sometimes extremely curly, giving the larva a cottony, puffed-up look. The body tapers to a tail that extends well beyond the body, unlike its relative M. crispata. The middle instar has a more dishevelled [sic], 'bad-hair-day' appearance, without a distinctive tail. The 'fur' of the larva contains venomous spines that cause extremely painful reactions in human skin upon contact. The reactions are sometimes localized to the affected area but are often very severe, radiating up a limb and causing burning, swelling, nausea, headache, abdominal distress, rashes, blisters, and sometimes chest pain, numbness, or difficulty breathing. Additionally, it is not unusual to find sweating from the welts or hives at the site of the sting. Ironically, the resemblance of the larvae to soft, colorful cotton balls encourages people to pick them up and pet them."

You have been warned. Beware of the Puss Caterpillar. They can be found throughout the South, and now we know they reside on Ocracoke.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter tells the delightful story of the 19th century "Stovepipe Hat" wreck. It has been told for years in books & magazines, but it probably never happened. You can read the story (and my research) here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news062115.htm

Monday, August 03, 2015

Remembering Alex

On this date in 2004 Ocracoke experienced one of the worst hurricanes in memory. This is what I reported about Hurricane Alex eleven years ago:

"Gusts at the Ocracoke ferry office were reported to be as high as 120 mph. Sustained winds were probably 80-100 mph. But the biggest surprise was the tide. After noon today the wind shifted and brought some of the highest tides Ocracoke has ever experienced. Older residents report that only in the 1944 storm was the tide up so high. Numerous homes had water in them, some as deep as several feet. Residents of the Jackson Dunes area reported water as deep as 6-7 feet. On Howard Street the tide came in 6 inches higher than hurricane Gloria in 1995.

"All sorts of debris is scattered throughout the village and on the streets. Several trees are down, at least one dock has been destroyed, a small skiff was sunk, hundreds of automobiles have been lost to the tide, and some homes have lost shingles and/or ductwork, but no major damage has been reported, and as far as I know, there has been no injury or loss of life'

High Tide Lines at Village Craftsmen














The next day I wrote, "Everyone is safe and there is no major damage on the island. However, everything is a mess. Wood, branches, propane tanks, etc. are scattered all over the village. Water is still standing in low places. Boardwalks and some docks have floated across lawns and roads. At least one vehicle was totaled when a tree fell on it. Two cars burned up when the owners tried to start them after the flood."

Because the storm intensified so quickly, no evacuation was ordered. As a result, hundreds of vehicles were destroyed by flood waters. One rental house burned when a car parked underneath shorted out and caught fire.

Perhaps some of our readers will want to leave comments about their experiences during Hurricane Alex.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter tells the delightful story of the 19th century "Stovepipe Hat" wreck. It has been told for years in books & magazines, but it probably never happened. You can read the story (and my research) here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news062115.htm.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Ponies

Illustrating one theory of how wild ponies arrived on Ocracoke, Jean Day, in her 1997 book, Banker Ponies, writes, "After the winds lessened, the twenty foot waves gentled into ripples on the aqua green sea. The storm was over. Flotsam from the Spanish galleon bobbed to the surface, almost striking a dark object which appeared to be alive. As it came closer to shore, it was obvious it wasn't a man, it was a horse, a small one, but definitely a horse. Breakers washed the animal towards shore until he recovered sufficiently to swim."

No doubt at least some of the island's wild horses arrived as victims of shipwrecks. Perhaps others were abandoned on the Outer Banks by the earliest explorers. The first European owners of Ocracoke, especially Richard Sanderson, used the island as grazing land for livestock (no fences were required). Early residents, William Howard and John Williams, brought more horses.

By the 19th century as many as three hundred wild ponies roamed the island. The annual July 4th pony penning was a major event in the early 20th century. Today, the National Park Service cares for a remnant herd of "wild" ponies in a large corral about 7 miles north of Ocracoke Village. You can read more here.

NPS Image













The Park Service also sponsors an Adopt-A-Pony program that is a popular way for folks to support the care and maintenance of out island's most popular residents.

Be sure to stop at the Pony Pen and pay a visit to some of the last descendants of Ocracoke's wild horses.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter tells the delightful story of the 19th century "Stovepipe Hat" wreck. It has been told for years in books & magazines, but it probably never happened. You can read the story (and my research) here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news062115.htm.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Bare Feet

Summertime on Ocracoke always means bare feet. In the 1940s & early 1950s most of the island roads were unpaved, and numerous sandy footpaths meandered throughout the village. I hardly ever wore shoes. Of course, nearly everyone then and now goes barefooted on the beach. 














My grandson Lachlan continues in that tradition. Earlier this month we took him to summer camp in the mountains of North Carolina. We pulled up in the grassy parking lot, and Lachlan slithered out through the open rear window. Almost as soon as his bare feet hit the grass a councilor gently reminded him that their rules required campers to wear shoes.

Lachlan is back on the island now, after two weeks of rock climbing, canoeing, and outdoor activities in the mountains. And his shoes are back on the porch, waiting for him when he gets ready to leave the island again.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter tells the delightful story of the 19th century "Stovepipe Hat" wreck. It has been told for years in books & magazines, but it probably never happened. You can read the story (and my research) here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news062115.htm.



Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Movie Theater

In his 2004 book, Off Season, Ken McAlpine relates the following conversation he had with an islander during intermission at a local variety show:

"Is there a movie theater in town," I had asked.

"No, there isn't," she had said with a smile.

"Is there a substitute for a movie theater?" I asked.

She had looked at me puzzled. " I would say that movies are substitutes for this," she said.

Eleven years later there is still no movie theater on Ocracoke...and live music, storytelling, plays, and other entertainments continue to satisfy visitors and residents alike.

In addition to music at various restaurants and pubs, Ocracoke currently offers the following: The three-act musical, A Tale of Blackbeard, on Monday evenings, "Coyote plus One" (Marcy, Lou, & a guest) on Tuesdays, Ocracoke Opry on Wednesdays, and Ghost & History Walks on Tuesdays & Fridays. In addition you can take in talks aboard the Skipjack Wilma Lee (island history, pirate lore, & stories of oyster dredging) on Wednesdays, Thursdays, & Fridays at 11 am), and Porch Talks & Museum Tours at Ocracoke Preservation Society (1 pm, Monday - Friday).

Be sure to check posters around the village for the most accurate and up-to-date information about these and many other events in the village.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter tells the delightful story of the 19th century "Stovepipe Hat" wreck. It has been told for years in books & magazines, but it probably never happened. You can read the story (and my research) here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news062115.htm.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Outdoor Classroom

Island resident, Elizabeth Hanrahan, along with the Ocracoke Foundation is again offering free summer programs for children (and parents) in grades 3 -7. Topics include
  1. How to read a NC Beach,
  2. Wetland Metaphors,
  3. Estuaries: where the rivers meet the sea,
  4. The Incredible Journey (a water cycle game).
The 90 minute programs begin at 10 am, and are held at the former Coast Guard Station, now the campus of the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT). More information is available here: http://www.ocracokefoundation.org/outdoor-classroom-2015-programs/.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter tells the delightful story of the 19th century "Stovepipe Hat" wreck. It has been told for years in books & magazines, but it probably never happened. You can read the story (and my research) here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news062115.htm