Among the great waters of the Carolina coastal plain—the rivers and sounds that literally make eastern North Carolina the “land of water”—Chery Run is inconsequential. Its navigable for less than a mile and a half and then only in a shoal draft boat at high water, but within its short run in contains a world apart, an enfolded mystery.
Cherry Run skirts the edge of Washington, NC. When the breeze is from the north, you can hear truck tires whining on Highway 24.
It snakes sinuously across the flatlands, past cultivated fields and churches and stores, wearing a thin skin of bald cypress and water tupelo. Despite its proximity to humanity, it seems like wilderness.
The light beneath the canopy is often subdued., almost aquatic. Trees press close on either side, leaning into the light, almost meeting overhead. Sound is muted except when a turkey roosting in the treetops explodes into riotous flight.
On Cherry Run it’s easy to imagine what the world looked like before we built towns and drained the fields and planted crops.