Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Come Away With Me

by Judy

I know, I know.  In my last post I talked about the joy of coming home, but now I'm ready to take off again, and I want to bring you along. 

This past summer I visited a special place that I want to share with you.  While on vacation, my family and I dragged ourselves away from our beautiful beach in Ocean City, Maryland to visit Assateague Island. 

Assateague Island is a 37 mile long barrier island that is located off the DelMarVa coast (Delaware/Maryland/Virginia coast).  The Northern 2/3rds of the Island are in Maryland, and the Southern 1/3rd of the Island is in Virginia.  On this island, with its beautiful white sand beaches, salt marshes and pine forests, live up to 150 feral horses.  

Some people believe that the horses arrived on this island when a Spanish Galleon ship sank offshore in the 1600's. Others believe that early Colonial settlers brought their horses to the island to graze and to avoid paying taxes on them. In 2013, a Spanish ship wreck was discovered in the waters off of Assateague, which lend credit to the first theory, and in my opinion, is by far the more 'romantic' theory of the two!

If you read Marguerite Henry's "Misty of Chincoteague" as a child, then you read about the horses of Assateague. Chincoteague is an island on the Virginia side near Assateague Island.  As part of the population management, each summer there is a Pony Swim. Some of the horses on the island are rounded up and swim across the Assateague Channel to Chincoteague Island where they are sold in auction.  If I visit again, I'd love to photograph the horses as they swim across the channel!

The horses enjoy the marsh and sand dune grasses, rosehips, bayberry twigs, and persimmons. They wander all around the island.  They can be seen feeding near the marshes, strolling the beach, or sleeping under the shade of a big pine tree.  They may walk right beside you, without seeming to even notice you!  

The dune, marsh and forest habitats also provide feeding and nesting for shorebirds, songbirds, raptors and water fowl.  

This is a special place. These horses have learned to survive severe storms, intense heat, abundant mosquito's, and a sometimes limited food supply.  As visitors to this island, one must remember to give the horses all the space they need to be "wild."  Keep your distance, no feeding, and no attempting to pet the horses!  

Assateague Island is carefully managed by both The National Park Service, and the Fish and Wildlife Service. Visiting a place like Assateague can be a great learning experience, and certainly a great way to see survival of the fittest up close and personal.  At the same time, the more visitor's places like Assateague have, the more danger of damaging the important habitats, and disrupting nature at its best. 

The National Park Service, along with the Fish and Wildlife Service, ask that all visitors to the island tread lightly and respect the horses and other wild life on the island.


I love visiting unique and special places like this island and I know that the world is full of wonderful gems like this! What are the little gems near your home?  Is there a unique and special place that you enjoy visiting? We'd love if you'd share some photos with us on our Facebook page or our flickr group.  Add a link, or some information about the place. Who knows, one of your little gems may inspire one of us to visit!

"Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair."
-Kahlil Gibran-


Dotti said...

Although we've been to DelMarVa peninsula several times, including once on a bike trip, I've never been to Assateague. And yet I remember learning about Assateague and the wild horses as a young school child. (Yes! I can remember that long ago!) We have seen the ponies at Ocracoke, another bike trip, and it's fascinating. It looks like I'll have to add Assateague to my growing list of places to visit. Thanks, Judy for sharing this with us!

kelly said...

what an amazing place judy! thank you for sharing your trip!

Carol said...

WHat a beautiful post! The first and last images are particularly stunning! Misty was a favorite of mine as a child. I have been to the area, but not out to Asseteague. In fact, I had forgotten about it since becoming a photographer.! So you have already inspired at least one person to travel to a "special place!"

terriporter said...

What a beautiful, magical and fascinating place! Your photos, I am sure, will inspire many to want to visit there. Yes, I too read Misty when I was a child and recognized the name Assateague all these many years later. It is definitely a place I would love to visit! We have a couple of bands of wild horses here in Arizona and there seems to be constant controversy about what to do with them since they seem to be damaging the habitat. I wish they had a safer, more protected place in which to live undisturbed by the influences of man like these beautiful Assateague horses. You have inspired me to research more the story of the horses here and possibly write about them! Thanks for this lovely and inspiring post, Judy!

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