A treasure hunt is the perfect way to start a day! That’s how I felt when I read the Open Write prompt today on Ethical ELA. I took a little different pathway on my treasure hunt and let my walk this morning uncover the treasure.
Today’s #verselove prompt, hosted by Shaun over at Ethical ELA invites poets to “re-encounter the familiar.” I’m guessing it will surprise no one that I chose to re-encounter the beach. Yesterday was a beautiful, sunny spring day…until I got to about 2 blocks from the beach. There, a heavy, dense, thick fog stretched along the coastline, nestled next to the blue sky, so close…but also so far away.
Somehow Dixie over at Ethical ELA conjured this heron into my path today…the day she offered bird as our #verselove poetry prompt. Thanks Dixie–readers here know I love my egrets…and their cousin, the great blue heron is a welcome sighting any day!
One of the things I love about walking on the beach is that it is forever different and always fascinating. Today was gray with a pretty thick marine layers covering the coast. I love low tides when the reef is exposed, the beach is wide, and if I’m lucky there will be more shore birds and other sea creatures visible.
Today it was the tiny sandpipers that caught my eye. They gather in groups, perhaps safety in numbers, and move in unison. I crept close today (they spook easily) and waited and watched with my camera at the ready. Their coloring helps them camouflage with the reef, making it hard to get great photos.
So many birds stand on one leg…and this one is a perfect example. I’m guessing it’s a way to rest. I know when I am standing a lot (like every day teaching), I find myself standing one one leg or resting one foot on the other.
As I was thinking about these birds that run and fly in perfect synch–their little feet almost like perpetual motion machines–I was also wondering about their collective noun. What is a group of sandpipers called? With a question like this, I did the usual and turned to Google. There I learned there are a number of names for a group of sandpipers including a contradiction, a fling, a hill, and even a time-step! Where do these names come from…and why? A contradiction?
If I were to choose from these nouns, I would definitely go with time-step. I love to watch their little legs move in a blur of constant motion and in perfect step with each other–definitely a time-step!
And…I was lucky enough to catch this guy mid leap! Notice the little drip of water from the tiny bird foot raised above the ground.
It’s fun to leave the beach wondering and thinking. No two days are alike and every day gets me thinking. Where do you go to think and wonder? (And maybe even walk and photograph)
I’ve heard it said that there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. But I live in a place where rain is rare, which means we also don’t see too many rainbows. So I guess that means we need to look for our gold elsewhere.
With many of my university colleagues enjoying a three-day weekend thanks to Cesar Chavez, I found my day unstructured. I had no scheduled calls, no imminent deadlines, just wide open time to complete some of those work projects that keep falling to the bottom of my list of things to do. Gold!
Wednesday’s summer was short-lived. Today arrived cloaked in a gray cape, keeping the sun at bay and temperatures back down into the low 60s. And when I saw that the tide would be low near lunch time, it occurred to me that I should take advantage of my flexible schedule and take my walk smack dab in the middle of my typical work day! Gold!
As I walked along the shoreline, I watched the seagulls hanging out and as usual they were engaged in loud conversation with one another. I noticed interesting shells and bits of kelp and other algaes that had washed up onto the shore. And then I spied a bit of gold. A closer look revealed a tiny golden lion snuggled up against the red algae. More gold!
After I took a photo, my husband snatched up the plastic creature–we’re working hard to eliminate beach plastics and doing our part to keep them off the beach.
As long as we were out, we decided we might as well head off to our favorite hole-in-the-wall local Mexican restaurant: Juanita’s. My taquitos with guacamole were encrusted with golden cheese. and also picture perfect! (My husband added some of this golden treasure to his burrito, pictured in the background.)
We definitely struck gold with our day today. A perfectly unstructured day that allowed for both productive work AND a satisfying low-tide beach walk followed by a yummy, comforting lunch. The perfect way to end the work week!
Today summer arrived in March with warm Santa Ana winds from the desert bringing 80 degree temperatures to the coast. It was a typical work day–except that I had no after school meetings today. That is a rare occurrence and I took full advantage. I left school at a reasonable hour, called my husband to see if he was interested in heading out for coffee and a peek at the beach, and headed home feeling like we were embarking on a vacation–even if it was of the 60 minute variety!
I’d read on Monday that our beach was getting sand this week–part of an infrastructure project that involves dredging the local lagoon and relocating sand to sand deprived beaches. I wondered just what that would look like.
Sure enough, heavy equipment was parked on the beach and new sand was evident along the shoreline.
We weren’t sure just how much beach there would be for walking, high tide often means the water covers the ground right up the cliff (and walking too close to the cliffs is an accident waiting to happen–cliff failures are well-known in these parts and have been known to be deadly!). But after only a couple steps where my foot squished way down in the brand new muddy sand, we could see plenty of room for walking ahead.
Just like the winds, we headed in the opposite direction today–walking north instead of south. While the sea birds I love to photograph weren’t present, there was plenty of other action to observe. We came across lifeguards training on jet skis, roaring up and over waves, dragging a water stretcher with another helmeted lifeguard aboard. I watched them soar over the whitewater, doing donuts in the surf. I snapped and snapped and snapped, playing with capturing action in a still photograph. (My favorite photo is posted on Instagram, but this one shows the swirl of the water.)
With the sun a warm hug on our shoulders, we continued our walk to a popular surfing area. Like ants, we watched the trail of surfers going up and down to the water’s edge. The weather makes the beach irresistible, calling loudly with blue skies, warm air, and adequate surf, in spite of the not quite warm water (61 degrees).
We couldn’t quite make it to our turnaround point as we watched the waves splashing up all the way to seawall. I couldn’t help but snap these young people trying to time their move from the stairs of this private residence to the shore. (Note the seagull on lookout above).
This afternoon foray to the beach was exactly what I needed today. It’s been a stressful week following a too-short weekend, working on getting report cards finished for an upcoming week of parent conferences, not to mention those frequent after school meetings. Today was a perfect respite–a tiny vacation in the middle of the week spent with the one I love. Sometimes a mini vacay is the perfect solution to the mid-week blues. Thursday–I’m ready for you!
Reading Margaret Simon’s post yesterday where she borrowed an idea about Three Things I’m Thankful for Thursday from another slicer, inspired my idea of an alliterative approach to today’s post. I knew it should be Four something or other. Margaret suggested “funny finds.” But funny wasn’t working…so I have changed the focus to four funky finds.
The life of a teacher is one of schedules and very little flexibility about when you start and stop working. That’s one of the things I love about my mixed work schedule that includes a buy-out of 40% of my teaching schedule to do local and national writing project work. Since I work from home of Fridays, I can arrange my schedule around calls…and even take a walk on the beach in the middle of the day just because the tide is low!
My favorite beach is just a few miles from home and you can find me there several days a week walking and exploring the shore with my camera. Today I noticed that the pipes that bring run off to the ocean are looking pretty raggedy and that the usual free flowing river mouth is pooled up, blocked by lots of small rocks. I’m wondering if nature will clear the blockage or if the city will need to intervene and bring in some large equipment to keep the healthy flow moving in and out with the tides.
Further down the beach I noticed how white the stairs look against the brilliant blue of the sky. I always think of these stairs as a stairway to nowhere. But actually they lead to the Self-Realization Fellowship gardens. They are not accessible from the beach and there are signs warning people to stay off. But they are also maintained, regularly repaired and painted–a necessity with daily exposure to the elements near the ocean. So I guess they do go somewhere–I wonder if anyone from above uses them to access the beach.
Near these stairs is a favorite local surfing spots called Swamis (named for the Self-Realization Fellowship). No matter the weather or the surf conditions, surfers can be found in these waters. Today the waves were small…and it seemed to be a longboard day. This surfer makes surfing look effortless…just hanging out on the board.
Heading back to my car, I took a picture I take often. There is an iconic palm tree in the walkway down to the beach. It’s big and bold…and is beautiful against the blues of the waves and the sky. I frequently frame the image with the lifeguard tower in view. And yes, the day was warmer today. I think it even got to 70, which means that people were in swim suits, sunbathing, playing on the shore and in the waves. It’s not warm enough for me yet–but some go with the theory that sun=warm, so off go the jackets and lots of skin is visible.
So there they are…my four funky finds for Friday! What four funky finds did you come across today?
One of the things my colleague Wendy talked about yesterday during her conference session was how Haiku doesn’t have to be all about syllable count (our American school version)–instead, she talked about Haiku being a poem in one breath.
I love that idea! So I thought I would try it out–inspired by the wavy turban snail shell I saw on the beach this afternoon. I picked it up to see if the snail was inside, but it was empty–just the shell resting on the shore.
On the sandy shore
a castle spirals upward
but no one is home
Ironically, this one fits the 5-7-5 syllable format without even trying! I’d love for you to try one–with or without counting syllables, but aiming for a single breath. Feel free to leave your Haiku as a comment.