Tag Archives: beach

After the Storm: SOL22 Day 4

I woke with a jolt at 2am to the rumble of thunder, the room lighting up even under my closed eyelids. The patter of water on the roof followed, the predicted rain had arrived. Forecasts for rain are often unrealized promises in these parts as we watch the rain percentages on the weather app drain away as the appointed rainy day nears. We were lucky this time, we did get close to half an inch overnight.

Friday afternoons are blissfully usually Zoom-free, with most people being done with meetings as the week winds toward the weekend. That also means I can often squeeze in a walk on the beach if the tide conditions are right. And today was perfect. With a negative tide around 4pm, we would have plenty of beach to walk and explore. There is nothing like heading to the coast to make that separation between work and the weekend.

After a storm is a glorious time. The sea is wild with wind-whipped whitecaps and the shore is often empty as sun bathers stay away and water lovers wait out a few more hours before risking the swim. With temps in the high 50’s, the time was right for some exploration and deep breathing.

The tidepools beckoned. I stepped carefully, making sure to avoid the exposed sea anemones. And I found myself mesmerized by the ripples in the water, catching the light and dancing in the light sea breeze.

Geoff is an avid beach cleaner, always with a bag in hand to pick up any trash we encounter. Storms push the trash to shore and we came across an assortment of styrofoam pieces (from surfboards and from food containers), straws, bits of colorful plastic, and even this mostly intact plastic food/drink container. I couldn’t resist a shot with the seagull in the background before Geoff added it to his trash bag.

I love the way a walk on the beach unkinks my shoulders and smooths my brow. The white noise of the waves crashing clears my mind and helps me set my work aside and be present in the beauty of nature. I leave windblown and refreshed and this week, ready to host our San Diego Area Writing Project (SDAWP) Spring Conference tomorrow morning. Another beach walk may be in store tomorrow afternoon…

Ducks

There were a lot of them.  Gathered in a group, moving with purpose.  Where did they come from and where are they going?  

Seagulls are usual.  They congregate, squawking and arguing over who gets the bag of cheetos stolen from the blanket.  Shorebirds with their long thin beaks poke the wet sand in search of snacks.  Whimbrels and godwits are shy, scattering as I creep near.  I’m always on the lookout for egrets, tall and elegant with bright yellow feet.  Sometimes they feed in pairs or triads, but mostly seem to lead a solitary life.  

When the little girl approached the group, I expected them to take flight.  Rise into the sky in unison.  But they didn’t.  As I got closer, I saw they were traveling together, one after the other like school kids heading from the classroom to somewhere.  They were unperturbed when I came close with my camera from behind.  And not concerned when I ran ahead and took my photos from the front of the line, in fact, the lead duck nearly walked right into me!

I’m still wondering about that sord of mallards (if they had taken flight they would have been called a flock).  In all my walks on the beach over the years, this is my first sighting of mallards on a pilgrimage.  Where did they come from?  Where were they going?

Seeing Stars: NPM #23

I never need an excuse to walk on the beach, but if I did need one, low tide is the best of all reasons! Though gloomy and gray today, the tide was nice and low, giving a wide expanse for walking and exposing the intertidal zone–more commonly known as tide pools.

Most of the time when I peer into the tide pools I see sea anemones, mussels, and crabs, some sea grass and algae and not much else. We often talk about how rare it is to see a sea star–even though they are native to our area. Today as we walked near the tide pools, my husband noticed a woman putting what looked like sea star into a shallow pool. We headed in that direction.

Sure enough, there it was. A quite large–the size of my hand or maybe bigger–sea star was sitting in the pool. As we stopped and looked we could see the tiny tube feet moving, propelling the star–it was alive! So many questions–where did she find the star? Was it in one of these shallow pools? Was she rescuing it, returning it to the watery pool? Or did she pull it from a pool and was now returning it?

As we left, the tide was on the way up. I’m sure the sea star will find its way back to the place where it lives, somewhere where I seldom see them. I’m glad I got a close look today…so it could provide fodder for today’s poem.

Seeing Stars

Stars in the inky sky

wink, tiny night lights

creating pictures

like dot-to-dots

Under the sea

stars undulate

moving on tiny tubes

unexpected treasure

®Douillard

Circles: NPM #8

A walk on the beach also means noticing all the ways that people use the beach. There’s recreation, meditation, entertainment, sun bathing, fishing, castle building, rock stacking…and art. Today I came across some temporary art, raked into the sand. And later, farther down the beach, came across the artist creating another piece. And these circles, carved by an artist, became the basis for today’s poem.

Circles

Circles and circles and circles

around, round, rings

no beginning no end

bubbles bursting

balls bouncing

concentric layers

measuring time

scraped into sand

a canvas smoothed

by wave after wave

running up, retreating

an offering, a gift

space for imagination

to bubble and bounce

just a glimpse

at circles and circles and circles

until the sea

wipes it clean

to start fresh

with the next turn,

the next circle around the sun,

coming full circle

®Douillard

Lines: SOLC #28

Exploring with my camera is a way to clear my head, to relax, and to pay attention to the world. But I have to admit, the monotony of a lockdown year has taken its toll. I’ve had to work to find new ways to look at the things I have seen over and over again.

For a change of pace, today we headed up the coast to a seaside town about 30 miles north of here. We did a bit of shopping and then, of course, headed out to the beach to walk and take photos.

I know, I know…I take beach photos regularly. But a different place offers a different vantage. Today I found myself focused on lines. We parked near the train station and right away my eye was drawn to the parallel levels of lines…the train tracks, the fence line, and the horizon line of the ocean behind. (And the blues were magnificent today!)

As I stepped up closer to the fence to peer over at the ocean, a series of horizontal lines came into view.

We had intended to walk the seaside trail parallel to the shore, but on the east side of the train tracks. Unless the tide is low, there isn’t much beach to walk on this beach. We started off–but the summer-like weather brought out the crowds–and the trail was feeling pretty uncomfortable with a combination of runners and walkers, dogs on leashes, and bikes (both electric and pedal-powered) whizzing past. At the first staircase access to the beach, we headed to the sand, realized the tide was low and getting lower, so decided that the shoreline was out best walking choice. There were still people, but they were much more spread out–in the water and laying in the sun–giving us a wide, unencumbered walking space.

As we passed the pier, I could hear aircraft. Helicopters are pretty usual. We have military bases nearby, coast guard copters, and of course people out to see the sights from above. But when I looked up I noticed a small plane cruising by…right over the pier. More lines.

Every time I visit a pier I feel compelled to take a few shots from beneath. There is something about the view of the ocean through the elaborate under structure that fascinates. Each pier is a bit different–some have a specific “door” to look through. This one does not, but it does have lots and lots of different lines to look at.

Even the pigeons managed to get in on the line action today. They were hanging out not far from the fishing people on the pier. Just waiting.

So is there anything significant about all these lines? This would be the time for the pithy conclusion to give meaning to a series of photos featuring lines. Instead, I appreciate a day slightly different from the ones that preceded it. And a perspective that took my eye in some different directions. Hope you also enjoy these lines, in all their insignificance.

Saturday Satisfactions: SOLC #27

I figured a listicle would be in my future sometime during 31 consecutive days of writing for the Slice of Life Challenge. And today is the day. So the following is my short list of satisfactions from this Saturday in particular.

  • Sleeping in. Somehow my body hasn’t quite adjusted to the “spring forward” command from weeks ago. I keep wanting to go to bed early each night and then find myself awake before my alarm clock. Even with no alarm clock set today, I found myself awake before my usual 5:30am wake up time. But it was Saturday, so after scrolling through some news on my phone I cuddled back under the covers and went back to sleep for a while. It felt heavenly!
  • Breakfast…with love. Most days I grab a yogurt, sprinkle a few berries and some granola on top, and voila, that’s breakfast! But today my husband made french toast–not the toaster kind–the real kind dipped in an egg mixture and topped with powdered sugar and served with a side of bacon and fresh grapefruit. Definitely a Saturday Satisfaction!
  • An egret sighting on the low-tide beach. I love an egret sighting anytime. I didn’t think it was going to happen today. I was more than halfway back when I noticed an egret fly in for a snack. I picked my way across the slick reef, trying to get close enough for an interesting photo. It didn’t stay long…there were too many people exploring the tide pools today…but I did get this straight on shot!
  • The exuberance of young people. I love watching young people on the beach. I am reminded of the verve and energy that teens bring to life…which reminds me of the importance of diving in, following my own passions, and embracing each day as it comes.
  • Living close enough to have the beach be my daily happy place. While I don’t go quite every day, knowing that I can access the beach with a short drive is a gift. When our beaches closed last year during the pandemic, I was heartbroken. It was hard to stay away, hard to see the ocean from a distance but not with my feet on the sand, and hard to find joy in my replacement neighborhood walks. Each day I revel in the wonders of living near the sea–and try hard not to take it for granted.

What satisfactions would you list this Saturday?

Underfoot and Overhead: SOLC #26

What is under your feet and over your head today? A much needed walk took me to the beach, where after a rainy yesterday the sun shone brightly this afternoon.

I tied on my ratty sneakers, the ones with hole in the toe, knowing that I’m always at risk for a salt water foot bath, or the sneak attack of some sand covered blob of tar on the beach.

In my usual fashion, I start out walking quickly trying not to let all the sights and sounds and smells distract me as I attempt to earn my exercise minutes, and then slow down letting the environment speak to me as I pull my camera to my eye.

This jelly was nearly invisible, an almost clear glob of gelatinous organic matter. I sometimes see bits and pieces of jellies, but seldom a fully formed (and quite large) creature like this one. I’m not sure what kind of jelly this is–maybe a moon jelly? I’m happy to not have stepped on it, even though it is no longer alive.

A beautiful spring day also meant a healthy breeze blowing. I’ve been noticing more and more people playing on the beach, throwing balls, building castles, and flying kites. This one was really soaring, getting lots of loft and lift into the bright blue sky.

What did you find underfoot and overhead in your place today?

Fog: SOLC #20

I walked into a cloud, experiencing it now from the inside out. Water drops too small to see kiss my cheeks as they swirl and dance all around me. My vision is soft-edged, everything ahead of me in vignette. Cocooned in light as the sun’s rays, wrapped in cotton balls, bounce and reflect. The world feels close and small in the cloud. I can’t see too far ahead or too far behind, I’m forced into the here and now, noticing what is right here.

Slowly, almost imperceptibly, the cloud lifts and opens wide, like a deep breathe and the blue appears. The world expands and the view shifts. I walk out of the fog.

Enjoying the Clouds: SOLC #12

I think southern Californian’s may be obsessed with weather. Or maybe it’s just me. So much of the time we really pay no attention to it. A sweatshirt is the go-to jacket, flip flops are year-round foot wear, and that umbrella? It’s probably buried under the reusable grocery bags in the trunk of the car.

It’s been rainy this week–and I’m talking multiple days! It rained Wednesday night and last night, and there are still clouds that just might be holding some more rain hanging around. We can probably count a year’s worth of rainy days on two hands–and this year, rain has been scarce, even for us.

Luckier still, we’re getting much needed rain and it has been coming after we go to bed at night. That has left my afternoons available for those much-needed beach walks. Breathing in saline rich air while feeling the satisfaction of checking off exercise as done, calms my brain and is good for my body. And the bonus: the beach is never boring. The views change constantly, the terrain is varied from tide to tide, and no mask is needed on the wide-open shoreline.

As I headed back toward the car, the towering clouds above the old Encina power plant tower (headed for demolition) caught my eye. I couldn’t quite capture it with my camera held in its usual position, so I turned it to try to capture the height of the clouds.

Maybe we’ll have a bit more weather in store before this storm system leaves. For now, I’ll just enjoy the clouds.