Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
November 03, 2010
I awoke to find that the light of day was merging with the night sky to form pink swirls of light dancing in and out of the clouds at sunrise. It was the perfect setting for a morning with my camera to capture as many moments in the morning light as possible. In my opinion, there is nothing more that typifies the Outer Banks than the historic cottages of Nags Head. Known as the “unpainted aristocracy” they have weathered the test of time. These homes intrigue me and I find myself wondering what it must have been like to spend summers there many years ago. Many of the homes are still owned by the families that built them in the early 1900’s. Their appearance is what is known today as the “Nags Head Style” of architecture. The hip-roofed porches, gray shingles, wide railings, and shutters add to the charm of these majestic summer homes built on pilings. Parking my car across the street from this area known also as “Cottage Row”, I was hoping to get to the beach unnoticed so that I could take photographs of the morning sun casting light on the homes and sea oats. A kindly homeowner reminded me I was on private property as I made my way, but with my apologies, thankfully he allowed me to continue. I found a family sitting on their old porch drinking morning coffee. We exchanged greetings and a wave. I thought in a moment that they were truly “living the life”! The seagulls flying by were noisy and their commotion added to the sounds so familiar of the shore. These historic homes are not built in a row. They look staggered and some have dunes in front of them and others do not. A photographer’s delight is to capture the uniqueness of it all in a single shot but it is impossible. All homes have sand fences here and there around the property and near the beach to encourage the sand to build up and not blow away, offering more protection. The amazing thing about these cottages is the fact they are still standing. Don’t we presume to know more today about construction with all the knowledge, technology and tools available to us? Yet, with limited resources and simply good ideas and the work of one’s hands, wonderful homes were constructed to last and they have done just that. Over 40 homes are considered part of this historic district now, and each certainly has its own story to tell.
It is all in the intention, wisdom and knowledge, I believe. Our spirituality is much the same. Internet offers a whole world of informational resources to build our faith, if we are willing to search for it. On Sunday mornings, television is largely devoted to preachers of all faiths. Radio broadcasts and podcasts are free and available to anyone seeking. Bookstores have books on every subject to guide us through our life according to the Bible’s teachings and the authors’ interpretation. Yet, it all comes down to what we are willing to do ourselves. It boils down to the Bible, our relationship with God and what we believe. The single carpenter from Elizabeth City, Stephen J. Twine, who was the builder of the “unpainted aristocracy”, didn’t have the fancy tools of today that we believe we can’t live without, but he found a way and did it with excellence. The same is true of our faith…we often times don’t think to just sit quietly with our Bible on our lap and talk to God. We want to make it too complicated and then offer excuses that we couldn’t make time because we are so busy. Simple faith is all that we need to have as our foundation to live in this world. Much we don’t know or understand, but if we believe with all our heart and seek God, we can weather the storms that we certainly will endure in our time. I know from experience that He gives us hope when we are hopeless. He lifts us up when we are down. He loves us when no one else does. He is Everything. We might stumble along the way in our life’s journey, but like those old cottages, they have made it all these years though hurricanes and nor’easters because of how they were built. We can be assured if we do the foundational work to stay close to God and abide in Him daily, we will continue to stand tall and not fall, too.