Difficult to leave such a wonderful place

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“Each year when I arrive here, I notice the subtle changes on the dunes and the beach. I love this place and leaving is always incomprehensibly difficult. This year, with sheer determination and a tenant in place on my farm, I intend to stay.”

— Mae Tillerman, 1928

Someday, I intend to follow in the footsteps of Mae Tillerman.

Late last night, we returned from our first family vacation in 15 years. It was a glorious stay on beautiful Holden Beach, N.C. We had been there several times when our children were pre-schoolers, and it was way past time to return.

Remains pristine

Amazingly, the quiet beauty of the island remains unsullied, pristine. The habitat on the eastern end of the island where we stayed has been protected. Though more beautiful homes have gone up, it has been done with prior planning and in a way to not harm the environment in any drastic way.

I awoke most mornings to a glorious sunrise and a bird’s-eye view of local wildlife on morning rounds. Yesterday, four deer were munching on the kudzu on the neighboring property. Even though they spotted me on the front porch sipping my morning coffee, they appeared unworried by my presence.

Rabbits, birds and raccoons

I saw wild rabbit meandering from one cove to another, various birds including vibrantly bright-colored song birds and drab gulls, as well as the always entertaining sandpipers on the beach. We spotted raccoons and noticed their tracks in various places, including around the coping of the swimming pool in the back yard of the home in which we stayed.

One night when returning from a long walk on the beach, my eagle eye spotted a snake that very well might have been a copperhead. We saw a great variety of turtles, crabs and a small shark which had been washed ashore, dead and harmless. My kids and their friends got to see a jelly fish close up on the shore, stinky but also harmless.

We were thrilled to be back to a place that feels amazingly like home to me. We rented a beautiful home that made the vacation all the more glorious, and the hardest part of all was knowing the second we placed our bags inside the front door, we were counting down to the moment of leaving it all behind.

Community of Holden

I love walking through the safe community of Holden, reading the names on the homes and the boats. The home in which we stayed is “Southern Comfort,” and everything about the place embodied the name. We were situated on a high point in which we could see the ocean from every window. Homes nearby were named Good Times, Doc’s Inn, Lovin’ Life, Porch Call, Sea Forever.

The place will soon come to life with summer travelers, but we had the place pretty much to ourselves at this early point of the season. There were many evenings we had the long, beautiful beach all to ourselves. Searching for sand dollars as the tide went out each evening was a thrill akin to searching for arrowheads in a plowed field in my youth.

Memories

Memories of this great vacation will include the beach times as well as the evenings playing games together around the home’s lovely dining room table. There was hearty laughter, lots of silliness and pure joy, as well as tasty feasts of great food and good drink.

Another thing that remains unchanged is the difficulty of leaving. Coming home to a chilly 40 degrees didn’t help much, either!

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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, in college.

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