We've had a small summer cottage in Beaufort, North Carolina for a while now and it's always seemed like a natural for 'A City A Week...'. It's a special little town in so many ways including all the usual fun summery things--water and sun, restaurants and shops--along with a few top dressing extra special touches like the wild ponies on the adjacent Carrot Island and, just a stone's throw away, Fort Macon, a five-sided brick and stone fort that pre-dates the Civil War. Until now, though, I've resisted a post on this postcard-perfect town.
Beaufort is wonderful because it is so simple, full of long lazy days. Front porches and neighbors. Unlocked doors; children free to roam on their own; safe; friendly; simple in all the right ways without anyone trying too hard to make this all so. It can be hard to describe a real place such as this without making it sound like a fake place--or at least like an overly self-conscious place. The risk of nostalgic cliche runs pretty high.
This summer though something new came to town or at least to our little corner of town. With its arrival, I think I've finally found a way past the cliches.
The 'something' is a new public dock at the end of our street. In truth there has always been a dock there but up until this spring it was a bit of a sad and sorry thing. A spot from which to fish, yes, or and for the truly determined a spot for an afternoon beer but that's about it. It has always felt provisional, designed with an eye to making sure you did not ever want to linger for too long as it swayed in the water's strong tidal currents. This spring it was replaced and we now have a very proper dock, one nice enough to hold its own amongst the proud private docks that stretch out in the both directions on our local waterway.
The pictures tell you it's a handsome thing. Maybe they also give a sense of the other wonderful and yet unanticipated bonus. The dock has become a gathering spot; no longer just a spot to launch from but a place to be, to linger and to chat. Beaufort is a friendly place. We didn't need a dock to make this so. But the dock seems to have made it more so.
This past weekend I was there both days meeting new-to-me neighbors. It was great fun and I learned a lot about our neighbors and about local lore. I also learned that there are still 7 year old girls who know how to fish with live bait. Pretty wonderful, huh?
Beaufort was named Travel and Leisure's 'Best Small Town' in 2014. Even so it's still a bit of well-kept secret without the usual 'best of' lists of local recommendations that seem standard for most vacation spots these days. For more general info here's a link to a delightful article that appeared in Atlanta Magazine BEAUFORT GETAWAY but probably the very best way to get know Beaufort is to plan a few long and lazy days there.
More views of our gorgeous new town dock with from which Hudson Taylor seines for bait; brother Marshall discusses their catch and kayakers come and go throughout the day.