When my car crosses the green swing bridge and moves over the Atlantic Intercostal Waterway, my spirit belongs to Topsail Island, North Carolina. Like watchmen from towers, long-legged cranes and osprey welcome me to their coastal kingdom. Almost at once, humidity makes my skin sticky, my typically obedient hair takes on a wild curl, and a pleasant film of salt and sand coats my face. The ocean hides from me, but I can hear her voice on the other side of Topsail’s white sand dunes. Sea grass dances to her song. I follow a path over the sandbank and she is there, wearing sapphires and lace, her arms stretched wide, her waves pulling me in for an embrace. I rush to get reacquainted. I forget her clever games. How she tempts me to her, and pulls away. How she lunges upon me when I turn my back. How she spills her secrets at my feet and leaves me to makes sense of those secrets. It has been too long. Too long on the mainland. Too long in the hills. I wish that time would forget this place, maybe even with me here – tiny on the edge of the earth, greeting each sunrise, digging, discovering, nesting. Topsail is a treasure: sparkling with sea glass and shells, rich with silvery sand dollars and ebony sharks’ teeth, compounded with turtles’ nest and glimmering dolphins. She is a sanctuary full of life and wonder, and a friend I never want to leave.