Happy Labor Day everyone!! I’m hoping this fall and winter things really start to return to normal for all of us. Speaking of normal, last week on the Island was just ridiculously crazy and fun. I was upset with myself on Friday that I wasn’t out there earlier in the afternoon to get more bands in the ocean, but come Sunday was another story.

The remnants of Laura came through on Saturday, so I spent most of the day working on the images from Friday a week ago to get ready for last week’s post. And, just to digress for a moment… I wanted to say thank you all so much for the comments, likes and shares last week. I really enjoy interacting with all of you here through your comments and such. So, I really cannot thank all of you enough.

Okay, by Sunday, though, I was certainly ready to get back out of the house again. The weekends in the summer are tricky on the Island… If you go at the wrong time you may be sitting in traffic which is not what I wished to be doing. So, we either go early or go late to get on the Island.

The decision for my wife and I on Sunday was late. We headed down near the official start of the evening and met up with some friends. However, just before we left, they texted and said the wind had shifted and now the biting flies were horrible again. When you hear those words of ‘west winds’ it’s like DEFCON 1. All things stop and nothing else matters. However, I figured it wasn’t really blazing hot so the horses were probably just going to hang out in the marsh. So, I lowered my DEFCON rating to like maybe a 4, and we just took our time getting there.

After meeting up with our friends, we walked and talked and even found folks trying to feed apples to the horses. Look everyone, please, and let me digress one more time... if you go to the Island please don’t feed them. This isn’t me just saying this because it’s in the rulebook and posted everywhere. This is me saying that because it can literally kill them. I know everyone thinks it’s cool to have horses eat out of your hands etc, but you are literally breaking nearly every law in place to protect the horses by doing it.

This is straight from the Assateague Island Alliance web page at: https://assateagueislandalliance.org/faqs/apples-and-carrots-are-not-a-treat-on-the-island/
“During the winter, the park staff and volunteers find people leaving apples and carrots for the horses, because they “think they are hungry.” Unfortunately, these apples can kill a wild horse with colic quickly. Why, you ask? People feed domestic horses these foods all of the time. A wild horse has a steady diet of native grasses. The bacteria formed in their stomach has a consistent pH. When a carrot, apple or sugar cube is introduced into their diet, the sugars in their intestines quickly turn to sugar-alcohol and wreak havoc in their system and can cause colic with the intestine potentially rupturing and spilling poison into vital organs. (This is just an example of one thing that can happen. A wild horse can also founder). www.quora.com

I don’t want to turn this post into something that sounds like me preaching, so please just keep the above in mind when visiting - a simple apple or carrot can lead to an excruciatingly painful death.

The apple incident involved Fonzi and Ninka. We got excited because both of them were in the marsh and then all of a sudden made a beeline towards Bayberry Drive. We thought they would continue to the beach (because of the bugs) to get in the water, but once they reached Bayberry Drive they started grazing again.

As we continued along, we found Joy and Ms. Macky once again reunited with their one year old boy, Fitz. He was on the beach by himself on Friday in my post last week taking on Susi and Chip’s colt. Anyway, the whole band was fighting for every bit of space around a campfire in H loop as the smoke eliminated the biting flies around them. I can tell you, space was a premium around that campfire, too, as small kicks, bites and shoves were made by all them to get closer to that smoke.

Eventually, my wife and I made our way out to the beach while our friends headed to the National Seashore to see if they could find any horses to the south. They didn’t, and we didn’t, either.

The sky was so pretty, though. It was amazingly clear out after Laura came through as the storm cleared out the haze and humidity. The distant buildings in Ocean City looked like they were right there in front of you bedazzling you with shimmering lights. I was lollygagging along watching pelicans fly in the beautifully clear sky while every now and then pointing my camera north and south and then zooming in on the images just to make sure I wasn’t missing any horses as my wife was walking and looking for small shells. Every now and then, though, we were brought back to reality with a painful fly bite.

I looked north one more time and thought wait, what is all of that? I strained to look harder way up as far as I could see. I saw a bunch of ‘things’ were running from the beach and up and over the dunes. HORSES! And they were running the wrong way - away from the water. There goes that DEFCON level again!!

I immediately thought to myself, wait a minute… I just zoomed in up there and didn’t see any horses at all. How in the heck did they get out there and I not see them?

As I contemplated my misgivings, I looked up again and, after they disappeared over the dunes, they were now coming back over the dunes towards the ocean as they galloped all the way right into the ocean. I thought Holy Kentucky Derby as my wife knew right away and just said, ‘see you later’!! I shot our friends a quick text to let them know we had horses in the water and then I was off in the running.

I started my much slower gallop than my 4-legged friends and ran from F South to the A loop in much more time than they would have needed to do the same. I moved my legs as fast as I could through the soft sand and surf juggling my phone in one hand, my flip-flops and camera in the other with my backpack on my back. There were absolutely no style points I was getting as I hastily trudged north and passed by beachers sitting by the water’s edge.

After my ¾’s of a mile jaunt, I got to A loop and discovered it was Yankee’s band that was once again in the water, the same band that was in Friday night under the moonlight in my last post. Only this time he had his whole band including the colt and Lauren’s Laughter.

The sun was setting and had already dipped below the dunes before disappearing out of the sky altogether. The horizon had wispy clouds lit in pink as the almost full moon rose into the sky. It was peaceful and pretty.

I decided to lay down in the sand to make my images which is when I discovered just how bad the flies really were. I now carry my bug spray with me that my aunt had sent to me, but I didn’t have time to put it on to try it out. All I knew was I felt like a carcass on the side of the road as swarms of biting flies hovered above me, on me and around me. I ignored them as best I could as their vampire-like fangs punched holes in my skin seeking my blood on which to gorge.

Yankee and his band stayed in the water for quite some time as wave after wave washed over them like an aqueous fly swatter shooing flies off them as the curling water rolled in and out of the surf. They certainly seemed perfectly content to stay in the water as they escaped the sentence of the flying executioners.

I was soon joined by my wife and our friends who left the National Seashore as soon as I sent the text and started back north. We took shot after shot trying to preserve the beautiful evening the best we could.

Soon the sun dipped too low, and the moon rose too high. A shimmering light was cast on the ocean’s surface by the bright moon that led us out across the water to the horizon and void of the sky where the appearance of glittering celestial bodies told us the day was ending.

Our friends were close to their campsite, so we had to say our goodbyes. As my wife and I walked back to our car the moon kept getting bigger and brighter. The wind shifted a bit, and the flies disappeared. I thought wow, what a crazy but awesome weekend… and how magical this Island really was. I thought to myself the Island is certain to be holding secrets yet to be discovered even after trying for the last 12 years to find them all.

I hope you have a good week and until then…

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