Monday, August 7, 2017

Beach Stories, Back in the City. . .

Back in the city, under a layer of the smoke that's covering our province, I'm nonetheless quite happily occupied, enjoying such aspects of city life as watching spectacular fireworks from our balcony, walking to beachside Shakespeare, cycling the very decent network of bike lanes, sweating up a storm in the condo gym each morning, and shopping the Farmers' Market Sunday mornings just down the road at Dude Chilling park.
But that doesn't mean that my thoughts don't stray, occasionally, to a broader horizon. . .
to a more natural setting that draws the eye up and outward, then down and in. . . .
The big and the small both call to the imagination against a spacious background where there's room and time to meditate on other possibilities, other rhythms. . .
These traces of other lives, the tiny stories they tell (have you read Robert Moor's fascinating On Trails: An Exploration? He makes wonderful, compelling links between trails or traces made by the simplest, earliest lifeforms and those pathways that intrepid hikers follow through the Appalachians.)
Makes me think about my trail through life, who or what I might be following, something I'm working on in the writing I've been doing, looking back through my mother. . .
The little fellow above? Whither and whence, what story does that trail tell, and what weight can it possibly hold against the deeper indentations of water on the sand, the day's tides erasing the traces like so many Buddhist monks sweeping away a beautiful mandala.
Another story here, the rope's trail from anchor to boat? (which was left by whom? when? and when will they come back for it? How patient must they be for the tide to return, how attuned to the clock?)
Questions. . . .
And observations. . . . And a tiny screen in my busy urban mind, playing in the background, giving me respite if I only close my eyes. . . .
We have a long weekend here right now. I hope some of you share that good fortune.  Even with this apocalyptic layer of smoke, I have to admit that there's something fragile and luxurious and resonant about this last month of summer, of knowing the beach days are limited, of wanting to make the most of each one.  I posted a (very) short video on Instagram last week with some thoughts about the richness, the persistence, the bittersweet quality of those layers and layers of summertime memories. You can see it here, if you're curious).

As I write this on Sunday (for Monday posting) we have our Four and our Two coming over with their parents, not sure if the Eight will be here as well, but we haven't seen these Littles for a few weeks, so our Brunch together will be a treat. What are, or have you been, up to? Summer doings? Beachtime? Trying to stay Cool? Wishing the Rain would Go Away? Wishing it would fall? Or if you're at the other side of the Equator, are you beginning to think about Spring Gear? Looking forward to summer as we're getting ready to say good-bye to it? Do tell. I always love our conversations.





21 comments:

  1. We have very variable weather here at present - a beautiful Sunday morning and torrential rain by night, breezy and cool a lot of the time. I have never particularly cared for August but the early, hot summer and the present rains have produced a lushly beautiful countryside this year. Instagram and FB are full of friends basking under hot European sun but it is beginning to feel and smell like September already. As ever, this brings on a faint melancholy - no doubt due to childhood memories of end of the summer holidays, time to start school again, no more playing out all day - but also plans for autumn reading. Always a joy. Making the most of the cool weather to run, run, run.

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    1. I always drag my feet in August, much though I do love the fall. Somehow, when another summer disappears, I feel the calendar turning most clearly, and I feel another year older. . . And yes, there is the fall reading, but I'm not quite done my beach reading yet. . . ;-) But I take your point, and we will definitely welcome the rain, should it ever fall...

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  2. August is not normally our last month of summer weather here, but its been unseasonably bearable these last few days, and is projected to remain down in the 80s for most of this week, so I have aspirations to spend time outside exercising and gardening - we'll see! So sad hearing about the persistent fires and smoke you all are having to endure. Meanwhile we have a very meaningful graduation celebration for our younger the end of the week, so we've got a trip and a happy time to look forward to, very lucky us!

    ceci

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    1. Yikes! The 80s are nearing the top of my comfort zone, time that I tend to avoid much outdoor activity. It's all in the perspective, isn't it?
      Wonderful that you have a landmark achievement to celebrate -- hurrah and congratulations!

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  3. Beautiful pictures Frances & all still just a hop away . When I opened the curtains this morning there was a handsome young fox on the back lawn , his coat was a deep , shiny chestnut brown . One of this years youngsters I guess .
    What is going on here ? still painting & decorating ....... but looking forward to heading up to the Scottish highlands in September .
    Wendy in York

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    1. It really is just a hop, and I've made a resolution to hop more often.
      That fox sounds a pretty picture, and it sounds as if he's more welcome where you are than his kin in the cities. I'm glad to hear that he has human admirers (I'd be one!)
      That's a big decorating task you've taken on. It will be good to have it done by the time we turn indoors during the cooler weather. . .

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  4. Oh, Frances -- such a beautiful, thoughtful post. And the small and large perspectives of your photos resonate for me. August is a month I usually curse the weeds, but this year I'm looiing for August pleasures and finding some, including watching wildlife parents who've now raised their young and are enjoying more leisure, like us.

    Because hubby and I will travel to Vancouver next week, I'm hoping BC soon gets some rain relief. Either way, it's good to know you're still able to be outside and active amidst the smoke, because I plan to spend a lot of time in Stanley Park.

    Ann

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    1. Wondering what wildlife parents you're getting to watch -- it's fun to see the parallels between them and us, isn't its?
      Our weather forecast is hinting at the possibility of showers by Sunday. Not sure how long you'll be in Vancouver, but I hope you'll get a chance to see us wet and in sunshine! As long as you bring an umbrella, Stanley Park is beautiful either way. . .

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  5. Your beach photos make me long for those summers when we rented a friend's cottage in P.E.I. Ten years in a row we did that. And then we stopped. Other travel priorities. I've hardly been to an ocean beach since then. And I miss the ocean. Living on a river, which I've done most of my life, one river or another, in one part of the country or another, is not the same. Especially our small and heavily built-up river. Our waterfront deck is peaceful in the morning and evening, but very busy the rest of the day. Especially on the weekend when we seem to be inundated with sea-dos. I'd much rather be in a cabin near the ocean.
    Love your beach photos. Hope Mary Poppins was great;)

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    1. You're wonderfully lucky having that riverfront setting and yet being so close to the city, but I have to agree with you about the ocean. Although those sea-dos used to buzz past our oceanfront beach in the summer -- ugh! I hate them!
      (Mary Poppins is not for two weeks. . . . ;-)

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  6. Lovely photos! And musings.....
    I actually am near the sea :-),the water was never so warm and beautiful and if one goes swimming in the sunset(or early morning)-one has it exclusively for oneself (during the day there are billions of people on the beach)
    Dottoressa

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    1. Oooh, I'd be very lucky then, as I'm an early riser. I don't love crowds at the seaside, but I would love that warm water. Glad you're getting to enjoy it.

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  7. Lovely images of those long sandy beaches at Parksville...
    and I am enjoying your thought provoking words.
    There is something so soothing about the sea...we spent Sunday at Sidney Spit Marine Park with the grandchildren and we had a fabulous time!

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    1. The sea really is soothing, and of course it's a wonderful place for/with kids -- looks as if you have had a magical time with yours.

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  8. Those random patterns of nature, leaves in the wind, ripples on the sand, I've read they are calming, in fact as well as in fact. I'm glad you've got this access to something so meditative!

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    1. I can be the anecdotal evidence of the calming effect of those random patterns. . . .

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  9. So tired of hot, wet weather. Finally had a dry day to get in the garden (although 92F with high humidity) and found our decks had some type of thick fungus growing in the shady parts. Scraping it off -- not fun! Thankfully we're off to Santa Fe and the high desert for a few days next week where it will actually be cooler, and, if it storms, we can watch it come over the mountains. Such bliss!

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    1. Yuck! 92 (so that's about 33 Celsius) with high humidity. I'd have a tough time there. And that fungus is just unfair. . .
      I've never been to Santa Fe but hear such great things about it. . . Enjoy the change in climate.

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  10. These beautiful patterns free my mind and set me adrift.

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    1. So glad to hear this, Elle. Sometimes being adrift is just what we need.

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  11. It has been a bit since you've posted this. I've been travelling and somehow so distracted with my own meditations or adventures that I've fallen behind. At the moment shocked to have returned to the combination of heat/humidity that is Knoxville. Although it is only 83°F, the 67% humidity is more than I want to bear. At least it is not in the 90s, as I was when I left.

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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