Tag Archives: beach

Light Show

Some of our beaches reopened this week–much to my delight.  I’m back to walking the shoreline as often as possible (when the tide allows walking room that fits my work schedule).  On Monday morning I noticed the mucky, murky waves…and remembered that we are in the midst of a red tide.  A red tide is an algae bloom and all that muck is red algae.

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During the day, the red tide is not particularly appealing…but at night, it’s spectacular!  Last night we headed the beach after sunset, in the dusky light before darkness comes.  We were surprised at the number of people at the beach–it had been a gloomy day and there was plenty of cloud cover.  But then, people were not there for the sun…they were there for the light!

As we parked we noticed lots and lots of surfers heading to the beach.  People kept their distances, but one glance at the waves told the story of why they were at the beach as darkness was settling over the sea.  As waves crashed, the water glowed brilliant blue!

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We watched surfers soaring through the electric blue of the waves, waders and swimmers trying to catch up to the light.  Walkers and gawkers in their coronavirus masks kept their distances and tried to capture this bioluminescent phenomenon with their cameras.

I’m always reminded that I need to work on my night photography technique when I get these spectacular photo ops after the sun sets.  But I keep trying anyway.  Even if the photos don’t begin to capture nature’s beauty, they do give a glimpse into the wonders of bioluminescence.  And it was a wonderful break from staying at home in my neighborhood!

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What a light show!

 

SOLC Day 15: Light and Shadow

Gloomy weather makes this global crisis feel like a blanket of darkness, weighing heavily on our shoulders as we attempt to find some kind of normalcy with schools closed, work re-directed, and social distancing the new norm. I’m trying to keep a daily outdoor walk a regular feature of my day…so headed out this morning when the tide was low to walk on the beach.

The beach was a study in light and shadow today with dark clouds towering above the crashing waves. Slivers of sunlight transformed the wet sand into a mirror, reflecting images of the cliffs onto the shore.

As I walked today I remembered a tower of rocks I noticed yesterday–one that was knocked over (unintentionally) by a clumsy preteen just as I headed over to photograph it. My husband and I decided to recreate our own version of it today, balancing smaller rocks on a large rock pillar.

Finding the just right rocks was a challenge–one we were willing to undertake. He carefully stacked one atop another, checking for balance, noticing the flat spots, the round spots…looking for stability. I tried to talk him into standing one with a heart shape up on end…but it wasn’t happening today. We left it in the stack though and built on it with a few smaller pebbles.

As we left our tower of rocks, the sun peeked out, illuminating the water. Brilliant layers of turquoise were framed by the white froth of the waves below and the dark of the clouds above.

Light and shadow…and a bit of balance, somehow the beach is always a metaphor for life and its challenges. Fresh air, exercise, and my camera–the trifecta that keep me positive and ready for whatever curveballs life throws.

SOLC Day 12: A Break in the Rain

I’m fighting some kind of upper respiratory infection and the laryngitis that always seems to come with it. Luckily, I was able to work from home today (obviously not a teaching day for me!) and not even have to deal with commuting on a rare rainy day in southern California.

So I laid low, kept quiet, and got quite a bit of work done as the rain pattered its soothing rhythm on the roof tiles.

So when the light changed in my house this afternoon and I realized the sky had brightened and there was a break in the rain, I checked the weather app and then headed out to the beach for a much needed walk.

Sometimes I feel like I am solar powered, energized by blue skies and sunshine and depleted by days that are pervasively gray. I could feel my energy levels rise as I headed from the parking lot down to the shore. It felt so good to get outside in the fresh air. In spite of the rain, it wasn’t cold out…the conditions were perfect for a walk.

I love that the beach always surprises me. There were people like me, in jackets and tennies walking along the shore. There were those in jackets and bare feet, walking in the water or throwing rocks into the surf. There were the teenagers in bikinis, seemingly not experiencing the chill of water in the 50’s and air temps in the 60’s. And always, always, there are the surfers. Most wear wetsuits year round…and nothing ever seems to keep them out of the water.

And today’s treat was the cormorant. I’m always on the lookout for seabirds–seagulls are usual, but it’s tough to see seabirds close enough to photograph. I saw from a distance that there was a bird sitting on the tide pool outcropping. I had my camera ready and crept as close as I could without drenching my shoes or scaring the bird. I click and click, watching as the bird gets ready to launch. And I catch that shot…just at lift off!

Sometimes a break in the rain is just what you need.

SOLC Day 8: When the Tide is Low…

Springing ahead this morning meant the day was already shorter…and who needs a shorter Sunday?  Luckily, the day was sunny and relatively warm…a perfect day to enjoy the negative tide promised this afternoon.

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When the tide is low the sea pulls back and offers a wide walking beach.  New geography is on display: exposed tide pools, unexpected sandbars, and slippery algae covered reefs.

Egrets feast, using their bright yellow feet to stir up tiny fish.  As still as statues, they pose and wait…until the perfect moment arrives.  And then…mealtime!  The gentle sea breeze ruffles those pure white feathers, revealing the layers of texture.  As I crouch low we come eye to eye…and understand that we are not in competition.  The egret can hunt and I can take photos without disturbing one another.

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Crabs scurry, hiding in the cracks and crevices of seaside rocks and hive like reef structures. Sensitive to the tiniest movement, I stand perfectly still and patiently watch until I get a glimpse of the sideways reach.  A fist fight between two thumbnail sized green crabs suggests that territory may be in dispute.

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Anemones comes in a variety of shapes, sizes and varieties.  Some immersed in shallow pools, others exposed in the wet sand…all adapted for the harsh conditions of the tidal zone.

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The beach is an ever-changing wonder that I explore endlessly.  For me it is my gym, my photo studio, my meditation space, my therapist.  And on days when the tide is low and my schedule is flexible, it is simply a playground filled with delight!

 

SOLC: Headlong into the Storm

I’m not sure why I need an “official” challenge to keep up the daily writing, but whatever the reason…here is day one of my entry in the Slice of Life Challenge.  Thanks to those at Two Writing Teachers for offering this annual event.

After a week of above average temperatures, the weather suddenly turned yesterday afternoon.  The wind picked up, the clouds gathered, and meteorologists are predicting winter storms.  That actually means we have a chance of rain here by the coast and there are forecasts for snow in our local mountains!  And as much as I love the summer-like mild temps and the fact that I have been venturing into open-toed shoes in the last week, we really need the rain and snow!  Drought is unfortunately too common here–and drought means the likelihood of a fierce fire season.  And that is terrifying!

I’ve been trying to walk everyday, for both my physical and mental health.  My camera is my motivation…and the beach is my favorite location.  I wasn’t sure I would squeeze my walk in today–my husband isn’t too keen in walking in the wind–and I had resigned myself to a lazy Sunday catching up on some work that got neglected during an overly busy work week last week.  I didn’t even pick up my camera today.  But as we headed out to run a couple of errands and to grab a quick lunch, conversation turned to the possibility of a walk–and I wasn’t saying no!  My camera was at home–but my phone was in my pocket.

I love the moods of the beach.  The sky and surf, the birds and wind, the sand and rocks create an ever-changing kaleidoscope of views and conditions.  I pulled my hood up against the wind and set off down the beach.  The seagulls were swirling and squawking above me as the salty wind rushed against my face and sunglasses.  The waves chased me…teasing as the tide moved the shoreline away from the cliffs with an occasional push higher, threatening to drench my shoes.  The sun played hide-and-seek, dancing with the clouds, swinging out now and then to brighten the day.  I couldn’t resist a little game of chase with the ever-present seagulls…grabbing my phone to capture a photo or two of them in motion.

Can I maintain both a daily walk and a daily slice of writing through the entire month of March?  I’m going to try!

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Change in View: #writeout

I walked out of school with the sun shining brightly on my shoulders.  I peeled my lightweight jacket off before getting into the car to head down the hill toward the beach for my after school walk.

In the less than two miles from school to the beach, the sun dimmed, shuttered by a thick veil of fog.  Palm trees became shadowy pillars as I steered toward the beach parking lot. As I walked down the long steep ramp to the sandy beach, it was like walking into another world. Colors were swallowed by the damp blanket, the view disappeared,  I could see only 20 or 30 yards in front of me.

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My mind filled with stories, the stuff of Halloween and horror movies.  What was around the corner? What evil might that shadowy figure in front of me bring? What about the sea itself, was the tide actually as low as I expected?

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Luckily, my feet know this beach.  They followed the path worn by my frequent walks, recognizing the curve of the beach, the squish of the sand under my soles.  Familiar birds whistled hello, giant kelp caressed my toes and a huge piece of bull kelp appeared from the shadows.

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As I neared the end of my walk, a crowd of children appeared from the mist.  And with them, the bubble man, the pied piper of the beach, casting a spell with his magic wand.  The thick mist didn’t dampen their spirits, instead the dampness of the air helped them catch bubbles–holding them in their hands and allowing them to slip into the bubble tunnels the bubble man created.

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Stories continue to swirl, wrapping me in their damp, shadowy chapters.  My imagination is already hard at work, making connections, creating movies in my mind.  I can only hope they don’t become the stuff of nightmares as I drift off to sleep.

 

 

 

Considering the Clouds: A Feldgang

It wouldn’t be summer without taking some time to participate in a CLMOOC invitation.  And who could resist an opportunity to engage in a feldgang?  (Yeah, it’s not an everyday term for me either, as I understand it, it’s about paying attention to something you might not otherwise notice.)

Yesterday was the end of an intensive 14-day period of work for me.  When Geoff got home from work, we headed out for a quick dinner and what I hoped would be a view of the sunset at the beach…a mini celebration.  But it was evident, from quite a distance, that a huge wall of clouds would prevent the sunset I was hoping for.

But…the wall was extraordinary.  It was thick and defined.  Not that ordinary gray blanket that obscures the sun that we so often associate with the marine layer in these parts.  The cloud wall did impact the sun and the light…and created a game of peek-a-boo with the sun and the sentinel palm tree that stands guard over my favorite beach.

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The surf was more cooperative than the sky.  Surfers were enjoying the larger than usual waves, showing off their expertise as they whipped and glided and ducked through the barrels formed by the curve of water.  As I snapped photos of the surfers in action, I also noticed the way the clouds and sun above them filtered the light, and depending on the angle changed the color of the water.  With the sun over my shoulder, blues and turquoises peeked through.

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With the sun in my face, sepia tones appeared.  The creamy white of the churning waves creating texture that my eyes could feel.

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Knowing that as the sun dipped lower, the clouds would block the sun’s light, we decided to stay long enough for the sun to be covered by the clouds…but not until official sunset.  I watched and waited and the sun lingered longer than expected.  Time enough to take some more shots of that favorite palm tree.  Even the pelican was enjoying the sky.

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While I didn’t get my celebratory sunset, I did get a chance to study the wall of clouds and notice all the ways it interacted with the sea, sky, palm tree, and sun.

What will choose to explore for your feldgang?

No Snow Day: NPM 2019 Day 19

In between conference calls and other work today, I squeezed in a beach walk.  My attention was immediately drawn to the kids using their boogie boards as sleds, sliding down the sand hill near the lifeguard tower.  Whenever I see that, my mind goes to a line in a poem (that may be mis-remembered, I can’t find it online) that goes something like…”Where I live it doesn’t snow.”

Today I went looking for some paint chip colors to help me with my poem.  No random draw today, I searched for words that I thought might be interesting…and then added one I came up with on my own: persistent gray.

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No Snow Day

Conjuring the blank canvas

of snowy banks

would-be sledders

venture to cliff’s edge

riding

boogie boards

down the rabbit hole

of slippery sand

in this place where

no snow falls

and persistent gray

doesn’t result

in a snow day

©Douillard

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Water Blues: NPM 2019 Day 12

How do you maximize your vacation on the day you fly out? Head to beach at the crack of dawn! The beauty of Hawaii is that the morning is warm and the beach pretty empty—perfect for that last dip in the cool blues of the sea.

And then 5 hours in the air gives quiet time for composing poetry. I’m not sure I quite got to any particular point…but maybe that is what poetry is all about. I followed the words, letting them lead me.

Day 12:

Water Blues

In the crack before dawn

morning rises fresh and new

dark becoming blue that

beckons us outdoors.

Breezes whisper nature’s secrets

in our ears

telling stories of

blow holes

and green shelled turtles

that give us reason to smile

and care.

Raindrops caress our faces

smoothing out the creases

of worry

carrying them deep

into the sea.

Stepping into the not-quite-warm

waters

where blue cools

concerns that churn

under the surface

splashing up waves

of frothy salty foam, intricate as lace.

Our eyes follow the lacy white

into a spectrum of blues:

the palest dance

along the surface

pirouetting into fine mist

keeping the air soft and moist

the darkest dive

deep

swirling with all the waters

through the ages.

Stories rise up

taking us on travels

through time and space

that skip and play like children

delighting in the unexpected

and wondrous.

Variations of blue

like a symphony

of sound and color

sing out

painting rhythms

on worry

sculpting melody

into hope

listen with all your senses

and you’ll hear the possibilities

as the sea performs

the water blues.

A Noticing Day: SOLC 2019 Day 30

With reports cards written and parent conferences ahead of me, today was low-key. Sandwiched between errands, lunch out, and a chiropractic appointment, we fit in a noticing walk on the beach.

Today is part of a warming trend in our parts, sunny and clear, breezy with temperatures in the low 70s.  Beach goers were out in full force, taking advantage of a beautiful spring weekend.  (This has definitely been an in like a lion, out like a lamb March!)

Some days at the beach I have no idea what I’ll take a photo of.  I have tons of beach photos from all seasons, so I’m always alert to something new or unusual in some way.  We walked a different beach today, one further north than my usual Moonlight Beach, just because it was on our way from one errand to another.  As I walked my eyes were drawn to the maze of stairways from multimillion dollar homes on the cliffs zigzagging their way down the steep bluffs.  I took several shots, trying to capture that effect in my photo. (There are more–I was wishing to get an even wider view through my lens!)

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As I pressed the shutter, my husband called out to me.  “Do you see that?  Right there on the ladder…see the osprey?”  I didn’t at first (even though I had just photographed that very ladder!), my husband had to direct my gaze to see the bird in the distance.  We carefully moved closer, picking our way across the stones in our bare feet.  We photographed and watched, mesmerized by this majestic bird of prey.  After a few minutes of close observation, we walked back closer to the water’s edge.  As we took a last look over our shoulder, we saw it flying away in the other direction.  I am so glad my husband saw what I hadn’t noticed!

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We continued our walk, and I found my eyes alternating between watching the brilliant cobalt blue sky where sea birds soared and searching the sand and rocks for sea glass. Looking up, I saw a variety of gulls and terns, ravens, and even an egret in flight.  And always a favorite, pelican squadrons made their runs up and down the coast.

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As we headed back the car I couldn’t resist a close look at the wildflowers growing along the beach path.  I noticed the bees busily buried in the centers of these native yellow beauties.

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While I ended up spending the majority of my day out and about, it was a day for relaxing and noticing rather than hurrying and worrying.  I watched and wondered, taking time to breathe deeply and enjoy time out with my love on this perfect spring day.  I can feel my energy levels charging–just what I’ll need for the week of parent conferences that are just around the corner!