Peaceful places have always attracted me. My interaction with the nature has increased ever since I chose to study literature and environment. Little did I know that I would be lucky enough to travel to a serene city, to a fresh, green, open, and peaceful town called Wilmington, and be welcomed by the vastness of the ocean. I received far more than I sought. There is a beauty in the untamed environment of the place, the beauty that awakens your instinctive longing for the natural world. Wilmington is a tourist heaven on America’s North Carolina coast. At every other step, you will find a place to stop by and get yourself photographed with a memorable backdrop.
Not only is the place peaceful but its people too. During my stay there I met with some of the most cheerful people – jolly and always ready to help. My Wilmingtonian friends made me feel so at home that I completely forgot I was away from home, in another world, different in many ways from my own. This led me to think that Americans and Pakistanis have more common in them than different. They are quite compatible with each other irrespective of political and cultural differences. The hospitality of the lively people around doubled my joy, made my stay delightful, and made me to lavish on the abundance of nature that had made them what they were.
My fascination started when I beheld the tall trees and water ponds from the plane window. From Wilmington International Airport to the University of North Carolina in Wilmington, I witnessed such lush green landscapes that, for a while, my inadvertent self forgot its functions, I forgot to blink. The UNCW itself is such a well maintained place that it looks like a real environmental research zone. Its green areas look like botanical gardens, lakes look like zoological inhabitations, while buildings are architectural masterpieces.
My stay in downtown was such a delight where I would savor the atmosphere of riverfront every morning. As an amateur researcher in eco-criticism, studying the connection of nature with human beings, I had already developed the keenness of observation. Wilmington showed me beautiful cobwebs, canvass-like foliage, shiny seashells, dancing waves, exotic plants, symbiotic insects, chirping birds and most of all, trees, the tall monuments of this city. Birds entertained me with the songs; little squirrels delighted me as they scampered about. I saw flowers of the most beautiful sort. In the evenings, the sound waves of the Atlantic Ocean would take me along into a trance to experience a mildly meditative state of mind. I learned what being calm and peaceful means. I felt blessed with incredible calming and restorative feeling. Life in Wilmington introduced to me a genuine sense of happiness and satisfaction. I wanted to feel immersed in the moment. I could see my biophiliac self blooming in Wilmington. It would excite at the wandering of the wonderful Wilmington wind of which I experienced the faintest and the wildest motions at the riverfront. A time came when it was perfectly at peace with me. That idyllic moment, I felt like walking the winds, steering it!
Small city of Wilmington has everything a simple, peaceful person like me would fall in love with. It caters to all moods. If you are shopaholic, go to Mayfair, Cotton Exchange (my favorite) and Independence Mall; feel like craving to write, go to the UNCW ponds; want to have a walk with friends–or alone–here is this riverfront in the downtown; want local styles, come to downtown with trolley buggy and all traditional delicacies; feeling beachy, sail towards Myrtle Beach or Wrightsville Beach. If you are a foody, do not worry, Wilmington will treat you with all kinds of cuisines, from Pakistani to Lebanese. What you would not like to miss at all costs is its fresh-caught flounder and snapper, and that crispy Southern Okra.
At least once in life recollect your glare and do enjoy living between the river and ocean and experience one of the best American riverfronts in the downtown with a view of World War II battleship standing as a memorial. Savour the subtropical climate of the Hollywood East where movies like Iron Man 3, Sleepy Hollow, One Tree Hill were filmed. Take time out to see this city of tranquility! A place where the hidden comes out; the dormant awakes; the ignored rises before your eyes, in your hearts!
Welcome to Wilmington!
About the Author
Sonia Irum is a faculty member at the Department of English (Female Campus), International Islamic University, Islamabad (IIUI). She is pursuing a PhD from Royal Holloway University of London (RHUL). She is currently working as one of the RH100 panelists at RHUL.