Sand and Sea

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The last few days have been a “far cry” from the usual routine of most of my days.  On Saturday, Jenny, Lyla and I left the ” inland” to spend a week at the beach.  Will and Miss Claudia were just behind us and carrying as many provisions as we were.  A lot of things happen in a week, so we all packed accordingly.

Elizabeth City is less than a hour from the Atlantic Ocean. Miss Claudias’ sister, Mary Ruth,  has a cottage that she invites us to use and for the last two years we have taken full advantage of this wonderful gift. . . of days spent by the sea.

What a different world lies, just a short ways off, from the rabbit patch.  First, there is the ocean, vast and powerful.  It roars and the earth roars with it.  As far as one can see, there is water and we are apt to imagine the distant shores beyond .  I imagine sending a greeting to my dear friend, Cobs, who lives just across the ocean.  I wonder , what if the clouds passing by could tell me what they had seen as they drifted along. I look at the shells scattered in the sand, and collect a few, to keep for an hour or so.  I will toss them back to their rightful home, before I leave.  As I examine them and feel their slick surface, smoothed by the ages, I ponder who else might have held this same shell and where did they come across it?  The ocean stirs up thoughts, as well as sand.  

It does me good to know there are some mysteries left and will always remain, in this world.7a11c5a4e0e8fd691a7e8fb8d1bb7efe

The “early service”, by the sea,  does not include robins and mockingbirds, nor roses, nor rabbits.  I have had the company of a lovely, but shy, tuxedo cat.  He watches   me from a distance, and seems curious . . .but does not venture an inch closer, on any given day.  He seems to be at home everywhere, but nowhere in particular.  There are noisy gulls and little sandpipers gliding on the ocean breeze. Their announcement of morning seems more like an alarm, than a song. 

There are no lawns, at least by my definition of a lawn. Sand is everywhere .   Wild grasses grow in  wispy patches and are always doubled over by the constant wind .  There are some stalwart flowers, that manage to bloom, in the sandy soil .  There are the brightly colored “Joe Bells”, named for a sea captain, who loved them enough to strew seeds as he traveled the coast decades ago.  The lantana flowers bloom too and seem to thrive.  These flowers must be quite versatile, for they also grow in the shade, along the edge of the young woods at the rabbit patch.  I am very partial to the lantana. The blossoms are clusters of multicolored little flowers in lavender, pink and yellow at the rabbit patch, and have a citrusy, spicy scent.  They bloom from late spring to  the first hard frost, whether you fuss over them or not.

Kites fly everywhere here, almost on their own.  I see them tied, to porches, unattended and left to their own devices.  Lyla loves the kites, especially. Beach towels, in every hue, flap wildly, strung on makeshift lines, hanging on for dear life. On the shore, there is  a trail of umbrellas in the  brightest shades of every color.  . .  and it does not matter which direction you go, you are likely to see cottages in colors like salmon, turquoise or mint green. What a colorful place! . . . even in the absence of roses.

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Having grown up on a farm, I learned how to cook pork, beef and chicken a variety of ways.  I have always been satisfied with plenty of fresh vegetables as side dishes served with a slow cooked roast, yet at the beach, it seems I ought to be frying fish and potatoes.  I think of what sauces could be concocted with fresh dill and lemon.  One day, this week, I will try a recipe using oranges  and coconut, that is a family recipe, from  Miss Claudia.  I think it is the salt air that puts such notions in my head, for the salt air has a specific scent. It  will be the first indication, that you are approaching the coast.  Chances are, you will smell the ocean, before you see it.

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A typical day here varies, depending on who you are. Will and Jenny take Lyla to the beach every day, not long after breakfast.  The afternoons are for napping or in my case, reading.  Often, Will and Jenny take Lyla to some activity designed for tourists with children, in the later afternoon.  I opted to decline any invitation, unless it involves ice cream or bakeries.  Meals are light , though I am itching to “leave my mark” on this kitchen.  Bacon and eggs just aren’t satisfying and sandwiches aren’t either, for such a domestic heart.

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The short walk to the shore is hot.  The sand burns your feet, so you must wear shoes.  Only a few families share the beach with us, but in the distance it looks like a “state fair” in either direction.  I like to walk down the shore.  I declare a landmark, so I can keep my bearings straight, for at the ocean, distance is as sly as time.  If I am in a dreamy state, as I walk, I am liable to walk further than I meant, for there is the long trek back, to consider. . .and truthfully I am always in a dreamy state at the ocean.

I do not believe my brain can perform a single calculation, while I am gazing at the ocean.  I can not think about my “shoestring budget”  or selling the rabbit patch.  It is  as if a force of nature, such as an ocean, keeps you suspended in the moment.  As I walk the path, where the ocean meets land, not a single thought will pop in my head.  I notice the little shells and feel the cool spray of the  heaving, curled ocean water.  I listen to the  waves colliding with the earth.  I look at the sky and note what sort of clouds are present,  but that is it.  . .as far as my awareness goes.  I am completely and thoroughly in a very “unworldly”  trance “. 

It is odd and beautiful,  to traipse a crowded beach and yet feel such solitude.  For  while I tread through  sand and sea, I  have no questions .   . .and that may just be the purest form of peace.

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41 thoughts on “Sand and Sea

  1. Thank you for taking me the ocean today. I could almost smell the salt air, feel the sand under my toes and hear the power of those waves through your words. Beautiful writing. 💙

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your post brought back memories of summers at my grandparents beach house on Edisto Island, SC. To this day the smell of salt water, the sound of seagulls and the vast view of the Atlantic Ocean fill my soul❤️ I foresee a trip to the ocean soon. Lovely post, Michele! And you’re making wonderful family memories for Lyla😊

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  3. Our old family recipe was delicious!! My sister’s especially enjoyed it with my daughter Mari’s lunch…I would say the crowning touch but one sister had to taste so then did the other. …Will say no more because I don’t want to ruin the treat for the other people…but it was so good…Thank you for all the meals!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I understand completely that losing of yourself when on the beach. It is my favorite place to walk. While mountain trails and walks through the woods are a fine way to spend time, just seems like less work to walk on the beach. We walk for miles when we camp at the beach. So glad you have had the opportunity to get out there and claim a little down time with no thoughts but the present. Enjoy! xox

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      1. I feel a kindred spirit in you Michele. Love to read your words and get a sense for who you are. It’s what relationship is all about. Thanks for sharing your rabbit patch world with me. xo

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I remember the sound and smell of the ocean from Long Island beaches. The things I would most like to see from your post are the kites. Would you be able to post a picture of some???? I’m glad your brain is relaxing beside the sea. What a treat!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Dear Ma’am,
    There was so much to read and think about in this post that I had to make notes so I don’t forget. 🙂
    Joe Bells flowers- I googled them because I had never heard of these but couldn’t find them- are the blue bells or Canterbury bells ? I wish you could share a photo or send me one on my email susieshy45@gmail.com.

    I so understand the bacon and eggs and sandwiches don’t feel like a real meal on a holiday day for a domestic heart- it feels so easy, so handy and so ” not done” , right ? But think this way may be that not having to prepare elaborate meals gives you more time for outdoor activities and time to get ” suspended in the moment” or go into a “trance” in time ? We say time moves on and doesn’t wait for anyone but there are times, and I have experienced it myself, where time seems to hold still and all nature is like holding its breath, sometimes in anticipation, sometimes in nothingness and then we are lost in the magnificence of creation and the realization that we are nothing and nothing matters( at least for the moment)- nothing- like money or budgets or bills or home or housekeeping or anything mundane. Life seems to be so exciting and holding tremendous potential while time is suspended. I loved your description of ” at the ocean, distance is as sly as time: – I am sure this is a philosophical question and observation and that Einstein and Stephen Hawking would agree. You have a depth of perception.
    Do you walk alone on your dream walks or does Ms. Claudia walk with you too ?I am intrigued by the coconut and orange recipe- wish you could share the recipe. Fresh coconut or store bought grated ?
    I imagined clouds coming from Cobs world to yours and waters coming from my sea to join your sea making the world one.
    Holding the shell in your hand and wondering who might have held it earlier and returning it to the ocean where it belonged only borrowing it for a time- what a nature lover you are ma’am. We need more of you in the world.
    What about Cash and C. Robin and all the others at the rabbit patch? Are they all ok ?

    Susie

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Beautiful. Yes, the ocean is so good for musing over. ❤ Your mention of the sea captain who strew flower seeds brings to mind a book I just read to my younger children called Miss Rumphius…we love it so much.

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  8. There is something about the ocean,or the gulf if you are in my parts. I really prefer the wide waters in the fall. The cool breeze coming through the curtain and the sound of a heavy rain is just enough to send me into another world. I am so glad you put the paint can away for awhile. Do enjoy yourself…I know you will. xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I feel like you have taken me to the ocean Michele! I can close my eyes and hear the waves whoosh up on the beach and feel the grittiness of the sand under my feet. Aaahhhhh I really need to get on a beach…a little hard to do in land-locked Iowa!
    Thank you for the mini-mind-vacation!

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  10. My compliments on such a well-written and intensely descriptive narrative. As a few others have noted, I felt I was there with you. Just a country lad myself, I can count on less then ten fingers the number of times I have visited the sea, and perhaps that is why it still holds such great fascination for us. It is a world apart from our own, though only an hour away (or 2 in my case).
    Its vastness is overwhelming, nearly incomprehensible, yet feels familiar and welcoming. Strange how the sea seems to call to us, the salty sailor and landlubber alike.
    It always helps recalibrate my perspective. I know the Great Cosmos is vast and endless, yet can only see it in my imagination. At the sea, when I am standing alone and looking out, when there is not another human soul in sight, and an ocean without end, I can get just a sliver of the sense of the limitless universe. Oddly, I never feel alone at this point, but instead feel as if I am wrapped in the embrace of the whole world.
    I am always reminded of a quote President Kennedy kept on his desk.

    “Dear Lord, the sea is so large, and my boat is so small.”

    All my best,

    Paz

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I felt your thoughts, for I was with Mr.Cobs at Harbour Side where I live, watching the sea and looking at the clouds, still making pictures from them, just as I did as a child. There was one particular cloud which looked exactly like a rabbits head and ears. I instantly said: “That one’s from Rabbit!”. Mr. Cobs gave me a look as if to say ‘what are you going on about?’ and I explained all about you, and that you had a real name, and I knew it … but to me you would always be Rabbit. And then I pointed to the cloud in the sky – which by now had managed to gain a twitchy sort of nose. It was just the most wonderful, joyous moment for me, and I felt it right to the heart and soul.

    See … I felt your thoughts …. for the sky told me you were thinking of me!

    Love you Rabbit …. always. ~ Cobs. xxx

    Liked by 2 people

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