An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

August 19, 2008

Metompkin Island

After climbing the Commonwealth's highest peak last month, we headed back to sea level, stopping along the way to pick up the female members of the family, and then on to Virginia's beautiful Eastern Shore. My parents live there next to Metompkin Bay, and from their house you can see Metompkin Island and at times can hear the waves hitting the beachfront. Metompkin is just one of a string of barrier islands that protect the Eastern Shore from the Atlantic. This part of Virginia contains the longest expanse of coastal wilderness remaining on the east coast. Most of the islands, marshes and tidal flats are owned by the Nature Conservancy as part of their Virginia Coast Reserve. Other parts of this ecosystem are owned by the Commonwealth of Virginia, or are federally protected, including Wallops Island owned by NASA and used for launching rockets.


The public is allowed to visit most of these islands if the rules are followed, but you need a boat - only one, Assateague, is accessible by car. These restrictions are necessary to protect the habitat for a number of endangered birds, including the Piping Plover, marine mammals and sea turtles. Unless the weather prohibits it, most of our visits to the Eastern Shore include a trip to Metompkin. We visited the island several times while we were on vacation, and except for the birds (and the hungry flies), we usually had the island to ourselves.

The first morning I got the sunrise over unusually still water. Some of the other photos might benefit from clicking to enlarge for a better view.



In the photo below, my mom is the tiny figure way down the beach. She is gathering shells which she hot glues onto straw wreath forms. She only uses shells found here. If you are ever on Virginia's beautiful Eastern Shore, you can see her handiwork at the Barrier Island Center gift shop.
... and Metompkin is full of shells. In places they make music rolling in the surf, and for beachcombers it is difficult to decide what to keep and what to leave.






Any interruption from the wind can cause vegetation to attempt to take hold.Plant life is sparse, comprised mostly of grasses, Wax Myrtles, the occasional Red Cedar and fleshy little things that can take the salt and sand.
From Metompkin you can see the abandoned Coast Guard Station on Cedar Island.
I love it when it is hard to distinguish between water and sky.

This is a view back towards the mainland - a floating raft of Loblolly Pines, fertile farms and small towns.

12 comments:

  1. Those shells are so awesome! I miss the ocean very much. Thanks for sharing it. Is Assateague where the wild horses roamed?

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  2. Dee/reddirtramblingsAugust 20, 2008 7:48 AM

    Oh, Les, that is so beautiful. Wow, at the shells. Who knew there were so many? After I read your post and gazed at the photos, I felt like I had been on a mini vacation. Thank you.~~Dee

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  3. Hiya Les,

    Can't put it better than dee did.

    Those beaches! So fresh and soothing. Wish I were there. Thanks for letting us share in that trip.

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  4. Les, wow! These are simply stunning photos. I love the ocean and sky ones especially. Now I want to visit Virginia's shore - I've always wanted to after reading Margaret Henry's Misty books as a child as Tina must have too. I also want to see more of your landscape photos. You are a very talented photographer.

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  5. Sarah, She wrote about the wild horses right? I still have my books from my childhood including this one. lol. I will be pulling it out now. Wasn't sure if this was the right place but thanks for verifying it.

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  6. Looks positively idyllic. You di great with the pictures.

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  7. To All,

    Thank you for the positive comments. As each of you know it is easy when you are talking about something you love.

    Les

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  8. This summer we went to the Eastern shore for the first time and enjoyed our time there very much.

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  9. Great blogg !! However just one correction, the Cedar Island Station is not abandoned and is alive and well! It has been in private hands since the late 60's and is maintained as a summer share and winter duck hunting lodge. Truly a piece of paradise on the Eastern Shore. I'll be happy to send you some pictures if you like.
    Scott

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  10. Scott,
    Thanks for the correction. I did know this but perhaps I should have phrased it "no longer owned by the Coast Guard". I am glad you like the blog, please come back again.

    Les

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  11. Truly a peaceful and beautiful place. We paddled out there this morning, and spent a few hours walking the beach, watching a rather large pod of dolphins play pretty close to shore, and just letting our cares be soothed by the surf. We also saw lots of sanderlings and also a group of 25 plovers that we were surprised to find. They were sure acting like they were nesting, but it seems awfully late for that.

    Thanks for the gorgeous photos. They'll help sustain me until we come back for a few weeks in January.

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  12. Lauren,
    Thanks for your kind comments. I guess you realize I love this place too. I was able to go there several times this summer and am saving those pics to post when it is colder and I need to see them.

    Les

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