The Boneyard Beach

(Please, please click for larger view!)

My favorite beach on the island is actually not the one on the south end where I live, but the one on the north end, whimsically dubbed the “boneyard beach” because of the massive dead trees that are its dominant feature.  They give the place an air of desolation, a feeling that something cataclysmic must have happened in the past to destroy these ancient trees and give this spot its alien beauty.

In fact, no storm or earthquake happened to kill these giants.  The cause is the slow, natural process of erosion.

On our barrier islands, sand naturally migrates from north to south through a process called longshore drift.  On the south end of the island, where I live, a broad beach is backed by an extensive zone of dunes and shrubby meadows that, given enough time, succession will turn into a forest of live oaks and palmettos.  However, on the north end the opposite is happening and the beach is eating directly into the edge of forest.  As the soil is slowly but inexorably pulled from around the roots of the enormous oaks, eventually they die, and the salty breezes preserve them where they fall.

Those trees that are still standing have been shaped by the same winds so that they lean drastically away from the sea, a process called “salt shearing.”

Who says you need to visit an art museum to see bizarre sculpture?

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