Twice in as many weeks, I’ve been startled by something big crashing through the thick reeds that grow on the bank of Sidney Creek. Jumping directly to the apocalyptic, I thought — bear.
There are bears here, black bears, although so appropriate to the environment they are seldom seen. I once found a black bear in a ditch beside a nearby road, likely roadkill. And I’ve been told black bears have been seen on the shore behind our house. It’s hard to imagine a bear so bold.
It wasn’t a bear but a deer. In both cases, young bucks. Startled by my presence, they bolted, making a ruckus as they leaped through the water and the reeds. In one case, the buck paused to look through the reeds, curious about what sort of threat I might be. Only a slight motion and a shadow gave away his position. I had time only for a snapshot.
The risk to any animal well adapted to its environment is a rapid change to the environment itself. The world is now changing more rapidly than it has in millions of years, largely the result of our compulsive meddling, and all the creatures that live in it are at risk, even ourselves.
There is a downside to intelligence without wisdom.
There were African slaves in the early settlement of North Carolina but relatively few. White settlers compensated by raiding Tuscarora villages and enslaving natives to work their fields. The Tuscarora objected violently. In September 1711, the Tuscarora War began.
Oral history records the first Tuscarora attack was against John Porter’s homestead at the head of Chocowinity Bay. Porter and his guest, Patrick Maule, successfully defended themselves.
John Porter built his home near a landing on Sidney Creek. The creek winds itself through the wetlands near the head of the bay. The old wharf pictured is likely located near Porter’s homestead and the opening battle of the Tuscarora War.
Not everyone fared as well as John Porter. A neighbor, a man named Nevil, had a farmstead near the mouth of Blounts Creek.
Nevil, “after being shot, was laid on the house-floor, with a clean pillow under his head, his stockings turned over his shoes, and his body covered with new linen. His wife was set upon her knees, and her hands lifted up as if she was at prayers, leaning against a chair in the chimney corner, and her coats turned up over her head. A son of his was laid out in the yard with a pillow laid under his head and a bunch of rosemary laid to his nose.”
The Tuscarora had a creative way of celebrating death.