The best nature writing doesn’t just evoke the outdoors; it makes you want to get up from wherever you’re reading and go be there too. You may not drop everything to go see the wild horses and undisturbed beachfront of Maryland’s largest state park, but the next time you’re nearby you’ll think of the people in Mickie Meinhardt’s piece who make Assateague Island what it is — and you might just rip up your other plans and spend a day there.

Whether you come in the hot height of summer, the golden-hour fall, the still and steely winter, or the tender and bright spring, it’s always a different kind of breathtaking, a place that exudes a palpable and silencing magic — the very definition of awe-inspiring. Which is why those rangers are so dedicated and so important. They ensure that anyone who visits the island, one-timers or forever devotees, can always have that possibility: of encountering, however briefly, something divine.