Sunday, May 2, 2010


Photo courtesy of NC Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development; Photographer: Bill Russ

Back when Libby and I were living on Ocracoke Island, off the coast of NC, a water spout came one night and blew up an old house that sat on a point of land sticking out in the Pamlico Sound. A friend of mine was sitting on his porch two houses down and saw the house basically explode. For a while recognizable parts were floating out in the sound, but by morning the house was entirely gone. I drove over to look at the spot--the only thing there was a block foundation and a toaster oven sitting in the middle of it, on the sand. I don't know whether the oven had been under the house, or simply deposited there by the spout, as a calling card. Some folks had been staying in the house for a couple of weeks, deciding whether or not to buy it. It was on the market for over $300,000 as I recall, and given it's fantastic location that was probably a deal in a sense. Like the real estate barons say on Ocracoke, they ain't making any more islands. We looked at a trailer sitting in the middle of a swamp there, which if it were up here in central NC you'd either burn, push into the ditch, or rip apart for the aluminum scrap. It was going for $90,000, and somebody bought it too.

Anyways. About a week or so later bits of that house started washing up on the beach. I mean the beach beach, where there is Atlantic Ocean, waves, all that. The wreckage had been pulled out the inlet, several miles down the beach to the south, and then up the other side of the island. There were recognizable pieces of the house, including as I recall some framed photos, painted chunks of beaded board from some interior wall, a kitchen cabinet. I guess it went on up the coast: Hatteras, Pea Island, Bodie Island. Did any of it make Norfolk?

They say the same thing's going to happen with the Gulf Oil Spill now in progress. Today the spill is the size of Jamaica. The Gulf Stream is a current of ocean that carries warm Gulf water up the Atlantic to Greenland. A whole lot of folks along it's path fish the Gulf, because it's rich in catch. So they say the Gulf Stream will start hauling that oil up the coast too. Maybe by Fourth of July we can run down to Ocracoke and see the oil. It'll be like watching a lift-off from Canaveral or something: a distant event that turns out to be right here.

People over in Brooklyn experienced that on 9/11. Papers from the burning towers drifted on the wind across the East River and landed on people's roofs, fire escapes, streets. They could smell the smoke too, and probably coughed on it. It burned their eyes. Here, of course, it was just on TV.

There's the usual "Libertarian" view on this, as on all things. Here's a link to some happy news concerning the spill.

The Market Godz, ain't they som'n.

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