A Mindful Walk in the Park

Trees in the Park from a bridge
Autumn in the Park. Photo courtesy of Brock Switzer/The Mariners’ Museum and Park.

Mindfulness. What comes to mind (no pun intended) when you hear this term? Some might think of certain religions, or yoga, maybe meditation. For some, when this term gets thrown around, the first reaction is groaning and a roll of the eyes. For others, this term is like an unfathomable goal – something that they think they can never achieve.

But why is this? I asked myself this question while taking a walk in the Park during my lunch break one day. My coworkers and I had been working on the content for our new outdoor educational enrichment program where students practice mindfulness in the Park, and I needed a change of scenery to help spark some creativity. As I walked along the path of the Noland Trail pondering this stigma around mindfulness, a million other thoughts popped up in my head. “I wonder if I have any new emails waiting for me at my office.” “What updates do I have for everyone for our department meeting later?” “What am I going to cook for dinner?” And of course, “Man, it is SO HOT outside, I should head back to the AC before I start sweating.”   Read more

Make Like a Tree and Leaf!

Chlorophyll absorption
Tree leaves absorb all wavelengths except green. Green is reflected, which is why leaves appear green to the human eye! Courtesy of The Encyclopedia for the Environment.

Today is the first day of autumn! We’ve finally made it to the best season! The weather is cooler…or it will be, and the leaves will soon start to show off on the trees! Here in the Park, we have some gorgeous fall colors that you can’t miss. But, when is the best time to come? Well, it just so happens that a lot of people get FOMO (fear of missing out) over fall leaves! There are a ton of fall foliage maps online that you can check out. Below is a great example!

As a comparison of what those seasonal changes in the landscape might look like throughout the weeks, below are a few photographs from the Park in those different stages.   Read more

The Capture of Hatteras Inlet

Map of Cape Hatteras. Courtesy of weather.com

The first combined operation of the Civil War was the capture of Hatteras Inlet. This inlet was used by Confederate gunboats and privateer merchantmen sailing around Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. These Southern commerce raiders’ depreciation was lucrative for the Carolinians; however, Northern losses became so significant that several major maritime insurance brokers demanded something be done about this situation. This prompted the development of the Union’s Hatteras Inlet operation. [1]

North Carolina’s Outer Banks

The North Carolina Sounds reached from the Virginia border to Cape Lookout, the eastern border of North Carolina. Four major inlets could be used to reach the Atlantic Ocean from the Sounds: Hatteras, Oregon, Ocracoke, and Beaufort (Old Inlet). Hatteras Inlet was best situated for commerce raiding. Cape Hatteras was the easternmost point within the Confederacy, overlooking the Gulf Stream. This current was very popular with merchant ships trading between Northern ports like New York, the Caribbean, and South America. Using the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, the Confederates could signal waiting raiders about tempting merchantmen targets. “The enemy’s commerce,” wrote North Carolina governor John Ellis on April 27, 1861, “could be cut off by privateers on the coast of No. Carolina.” [2]   Read more

One Name, Two Ships, Three Stories

Colored lithograph of Steamship Arago
Colored Lithograph of Steamship Arago. 1941.0492.000001. Photo courtesy of The Mariners’ Museum and Park

Have you ever gotten the sense that something is following you around? Maybe there is a phrase, word, song, or something else that just keeps popping up in unexpected places, and you’re not sure why? That happened to me recently, and the product is this blog post!

It started with a research project. You see, I was recently reading through the final draft of a book that I edited with Dr. Jonathan White, entitled  My Work Among the Freedmen: The Civil War and Reconstruction Letters of Harriet M. Buss. For this book, I transcribed the correspondence of Harriet Buss, a teacher from Massachusetts who moved to South Carolina during the Civil War to teach freedpeople. Buss wrote to her parents regularly, and was detailed in her description of her travels. In traveling back and forth from New England to the coast of South Carolina throughout 1863, Buss frequently boarded the Steamer Arago, and several of her letters bear this heading! When I first transcribed these letters, I honestly didn’t think much about the fact that she was on the Steamer Arago, beyond the contextual research on the vessel. I found her descriptions interesting, and her tales of travel occasionally amusing. I also gagged a little when she described the “quart tin vomiting cup” that accompanied every berth on the ship. [1]   Read more

Are You Shore You Want To Do That?

Diagram of Wetland Ecosystems. Courtesy of the United States Department of Agriculture.

Have you ever taken a visit to Lions Bridge and wondered why there are “No Trespassing” signs stopping you from sun-bathing on that oh-so-tempting perfect little river beach? The short answer is to prevent shoreline erosion and protect wildlife. The long answer is below…

What is a wetland?

The Shoreline Area at Lions Bridge is a wetland, my favorite type of ecosystem. Wetlands are transitional ecosystems between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems that flourish with life. Simply, a wetland is a habitat between a body of water and a piece of dry land. Each type of aquatic system correlates with a wetland system. For example, an estuarine wetland would be the transition between an estuary and land, while a riverine wetland corresponds to a wetland near a river. To qualify as a wetland, an area must meet certain criteria: presence of water at or near the surface, hydric soils, and vegetation adapted to wet conditions.    Read more