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Portfolio: Nags Head

“In the end, it is about belonging. We are defined by a memory, a house, a place, our lives set in motion because of where we were first known for who we are. Nags Head is just such a place, and the memory of it pulls people to it like the tides. They come year after year, generation upon next, prying open faded shutters, opening windows, welcoming the salt air. They come in the shadow of those who swept the porch before them, imagining those who’ll join the continuum after they’re gone. It is that sense of family and that history—a plain house with juniper shingles, a wide porch that shelters from the rain, curtains billowed out by a sea breeze—that make them love the place, drawing them to it.”

This is a quote from Susan Byrum Roundtree whose book, Nags Headers (John F. Blair, 2001), is an invaluable record for those of us who deeply love this precious, imperiled summer haven. On the cover is a photograph of my mother and her brother, Elizabeth and Joe Webb, and their cousins, Jaquelin and Bob Drane. The old snapshot is of a previous generation draped about the porch of the cottage which was largely destroyed by the Ash Wednesday storm in 1962. The little girl is me, seventy-five years ago.