Flying Fish

North Carolina Adventures
by Nicole Carlozo -- May 28th, 2011

Transitions: From gardens and books to wetlands and beaches.

Although my first year as a MEM has ended, my NC journey continues. When I last wrote, finals were among us and summer seemed so far away. In the past month, however, life has led me through many endings and just as many new beginnings. Before long, I finished my assistantship, battled my way through finals, packed up my apartment, traveled back and forth to Beaufort numerous times, and returned to Maryland for a quick stint at home. Transitioning, I’ve found, is often half the battle in life, and this past month has served as one mighty transition.

I’m writing now from the shores of Kill Devil Hills, NC, a northern Outer Banks community. Growing up in Maryland, I became familiar with the boardwalks and congestion of Ocean City, as well as the lazy shores of our Chesapeake Bay. The Outer Banks, however, offers a moderately developed narrow beach community, and therefore a completely different experience. My summer house, nestled on the edge of Nags Head Woods Ecological Preserve, offers no hint of coastline. Instead, a very green, dense wood surrounds me and my one-story window-paneled home. A gravel and dirt road passes by the house, meandering through the woods towards some private homes and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) Office, where I’ll be working this summer. My housemates (two undergraduates from Framingham) venture daily through the Preserve trails and into the swamp in search of turtles, snakes, alligators, and frogs for their summer survey.

Eastward lies a crosshatch of neighborhood streets that culminate at the highway – a highly developed road that runs from Kitty Hawk to Hatteras.

Yet, past the main road, just 0.8 miles from my house, the Atlantic Ocean awaits my arrival. Talk about transitions! No boardwalk exists along these shores – just sand and water and a great many people.

Although I plan to spend time at the beach this summer, its presence is not the reason for my time here. This week I’m beginning an 11 week internship with TNC, where I’ll conduct GIS work for their Coastal Climate Adaptation project. By the end of the summer, I hope to boast expertise on NC shoreline erosion and natural solutions. My summer project and MP will focus on shoreline stabilization via oyster reef and seagrass presence.  Along with my computer and mapping work, a plethora of field work awaits.

I’m sure I’ll have many stories to share. But right now, most of my time has been spent cleaning the house, running errands, battling mosquitoes, and orienting myself to the area. The beach still awaits, but tree frogs, red-bellied snakes, and turtles are constant guests in the house as my housemates process their survey data. Stay tuned for pics and stories from my North Carolina Adventures!

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