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State Beach, Block Island

Low Tide, Block Island, photo by Noelle

The surf comes slow and steady, lapping quietly only a few feet away, and never desists. She seems a persistent child, playfully pulling me ever further away from my thoughts. I match my breathe to her comings and goings, at first a difficult task. I am full of the busyness of life at work and the chaos of travel. Yet, after a time, she in her great depths and I in my shallowness upon the beach become one. My muscles sink deeply into the sand, as I rest motionless upon the towel.

Tide's Arrival

State Beach, Block Island photo by Noelle

At mid-morning, the beach is not yet busy, and the gull’s calls are distinct from the din that comes with afternoon beach goers. I open one eye and see a large gray-breasted gull inching toward me. He is surveying for any booty to steal, pirate thief that he is. His beak nods dismissively, as he finds nothing and walks on down the beach. I find a sudden longing that he stay awhile longer. He speaks to me of sea and sky, salt and sand.

The ocean laps, my eye closes and the meditation drops deeper still.

Private

Beach Access, photo by Noelle

There is no effort in this sort of meditation.

The Earth and sea work on me, as they have on the driftwood that litters the beach around me. Softening my edges, tempering my life force, wearing away abrasiveness, leaching from me all that is no longer essential to my purpose and form. Clues are there – tasty salt upon my lips, a breeze lifting my hair – that unseen forces work steadily at this disassembly. An effortless altering of my biochemistry. We think it’s back to some baseline peaceful state, but I think it’s to a new version of me at peace that is forming. I am not the same, as I was before. The same as other peaceful times. The quality I know as peace, changes as I change. Each return to me, from a wound up person in the throes of life, shows me a me I have yet to meet.

Driftwood

State Beach, Block Island photo by Noelle

Thoughts barely rise, before the sun evaporates them off my mind blurring my sense of where I end and the sand begins. This feels essential. A kind of reset where I am wiped totally clean before rebooting to my new form. It is hard to remember when I used to lie here and pull my other life with me onto the beach towel. Endless, frenzied thoughts about life elsewhere, hardly noticing the call of the sea and the gulls. Somewhere inside of me, I think I have always known my troubles only existed if I kept thinking about them. That they would evaporate if I wasn’t there tending to them and where would that leave me? If I gave up thinking about them, then I might not exist anymore either, for who was I without them?

What a tragedy, not being me, once seemed.

Malingering at the Lagoon

Block Island, photo by Noelle

Now I call the wind and the sea to me, ravish guests to an abundant feast. There is nothing I won’t give them. There is nothing they can’t have. This ship has beached here and has lost all defenses. Pirate gulls and marauding wind, my treasures, such as they are, are yours for the taking.

If you enjoyed this piece, you can find more in my book of meditations called “Into Your Meditation” available on Lulu.com, Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com.

Already Here

Mohegan's Bluff, Block Island: Photo by Noelle

Mohegan’s Bluff, Block Island: Photo by Noelle

Allow yourself to think today as if your life is already what you want it to be. Watch what happens when you do not succumb to your own stories of limitation.

Namaste and Happy Thursday, Noelle

Pirate Booty

State Beach, Block Island, Rhode Island: Photos by Noelle

State Beach, Block Island, Rhode Island: Photos by Noelle

A seagull attempted to land on it as a perch, but the top was too thin so the tough scavenger flew off. It appeared to be a marker, maybe to someone’s pirate booty, or a child’s war ship against the tide the day before. Now it stood lone and bare in the morning light. Treasure Island and Billy Bones floated through my mind, as I came upon it. As a child I loved the N.C. Wyeth paintings from the story and would look at them for hours making up my own pirate adventures.

N.C. Wyeth illustrations from Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

N.C. Wyeth illustrations from Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

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Like my fantasies of childhood I found the beach full of little mysteries as dawn came upon it. Crabs battling in tide pools, shell paintings and this monstrous sand castle still erect and undisturbed by the night’s tide. A stalwart stronghold made with little more than hands and buckets. Having recently started dabbling with sculpting SopI marvel at this structure. Created in an afternoon, with little more impetus than a laugh and no more concern for it’s perfection or durability than the time it takes to be distracted onto a boogie board. Yet in my own creative process I can ponder and obsess over the next steps in plaster as if I were working with TNT or finding the cure for cancer. I dig my feet into the sand and commit myself to remember the care-free force of a child.

 

Sand castle. state Beach; Photo by Noelle

Sand castle, State Beach; Photo by Noelle

 

Small pathways discovered through the shrub-covered embankments, now dotted in pink flowers, enticed me into small sand dells and new routes home. I picked one of the morning blooms and placed it in my hair embracing all the beach bum I could pull into my lungs.

State Beach, Block Island, Rhode Island: Photos by Noelle

State Beach, Block Island, Rhode Island: Photos by Noelle

I sit daily in meditation, but few things calm and bring me into full alignment with my best self so completely, as a walk on a deserted beach. So to you my dear friends I offer this call to adventure and discovery that it not die upon my own lips.

“Avast, me hearties! There be treasure here.”

State Beach, Block Island: Photo by Noelle

State Beach, Block Island: Photo by Noelle

 

Seaside

block Island High Speed Ferry to New London: Photo by Noelle

block Island High Speed Ferry to New London: Photo by Noelle

Someone’s Coke had exploded on the window; no telling how long ago, but it looked old and crusted. The waves fill in the scene between the running, brown spots telling a tale of holidays and luggage, children eating crushed sandwiches with chips and foamy soda. My nieces are giggling in the booth behind me and I pretend to read my book. In truth, the ocean moving beneath my window is far more intriguing. The girls launch off to the outer deck leaving the Coke and me and the dark green sea. Such a vast ocean full of life and dancing seagulls that laugh at soda and women longing for their vacation not to end.

I breathe deep and feel the sand still embedded in my sandals rubbing against my heal. The vacation may be over but my morning walks are alive within me as I sail for home.

State Beach Block Island, Rhode Island: Photo by Noelle

State Beach Block Island, Rhode Island: Photo by Noelle

Some mornings the temptation to lie in bed would be great, but the island is a haven for bird migrations. The dawn is full of winged song and chattering old maids. Plus, I knew few walked the beaches in the morning leaving it mostly to myself. By nine o’clock people would be staking out their spots for the day, especially close to the water, but at the crack of dawn it’s a random dog walker and one or two folks likely fallen asleep on the beach from too much drink the night before.

State Beach Block Island, Rhode Island: Photo by Noelle

State Beach Block Island, Rhode Island: Photo by Noelle

State Beach Block Island, Rhode Island: Photo by Noelle

State Beach Block Island, Rhode Island: Photo by Noelle

As I walk the surf rolls over my feet, a tempting lover, but hard to get. It’s in the way she pulls at my ankles then drifts back into the sea as if she could careless at my response. I chase her, as any sun-drenched lover would and she covers my legs with love. She could beguile the hardest soul winking delicately in the new dawn and makes positive beggars out of crabs whose claws outstretch demanding she return them home.

I collect stones and fill my pockets, smooth and black or mica-covered quartz the favorites. I walk, rubbing them, committing to a seaside rosary of sorts as I speak to spirits that pull my hair into the wind. Salt graces my lips and I lick it off for breakfast, smiling at the seagull who hovers wondering what I dine on. “The same as you, my friend. The same as you.”

Mohegan's Bluff, Block Island: Photo by Noelle

Mohegan’s Bluff, Block Island: Photo by Noelle

I came upon a stingray, likely dead, but his eyes were still open and partially covered by a pool of water. I pulled him back into the seaweed thick surf and he quickly disappeared under the rolling garden. I could not tell if he lived or merely vanished in a tangle of kelp, but for some reason I felt very satisfied. After a time walking the beach I wondered at my need to deliver him from his death. We all must leave this plane at some point. The sight of death rarely disturbs me and I am at peace with the beautiful eco-system that has a purpose for even the decaying body. I sat on the sun-warmed sand and watched the surf for a long while. Clearly that day, I did not want either him or myself to be anywhere else but with the sea.

State Beach Block Island, Rhode Island: Photo by Noelle

State Beach Block Island, Rhode Island: Photo by Noelle

Remembering Summer

Cold and blustery, with dark clouds drifting down the Colorado hog backs in misty waterfalls is my day. With little resistance, my mind turns back to summer and the warm ocean breezes of July. Seashells and plastic pales full of crabs and snails and minnows whipping my ankles. Makeshift moats around lopsided sand castles built for love, not defense. I remember that hours of heat had left us all lazy, but for the surf and boogie boards with the kids. My father was not here, as he passed last year, but I am certain he would’ve liked to see us all together. Surely summer, more than any other season, moves with the speed of seagulls dashing for french fries on the wharf. I’d give anything to push my toes into that sand, rather than wrap this blanket about my shoulders. I suspect soon I will long for fall leaves as I put on my snow boots, scarf and hat. Ah, se la vie. Contentment, I guess, is as fickle as summer kites.

Gate

Gate on the Payne Farm Trail:  Photo by Noelle

Gate on the Payne Farm Trail: Photo by Noelle

There it was in the middle of the thicket. White and chained shut. Very little to say where it lead, as there appeared to be no road into the briar. It seemed a gate in the middle of nowhere and that is how the first spark flew burning my regular life. What is it to live, if you never climb unknown fences and see where they lead?

Bench to Nowhere

Greenway trail at Nathan Mott Park, Block Island: Photo by Noelle

Greenway trail at Nathan Mott Park, Block Island: Photo by Noelle

I was hiking a trail at the Nathan Mott Park while vacationing on Block Island; a small island off the coast of Rhode Island. The trail was well maintained, but heavily wooded. No clear cutting or control burns have ever happened there. Thus, the bramble was thick and dense. Suddenly, I stumbled upon a bench, sitting in the middle of the trail, about half way in. It faced the bramble, with no apparent other view.

I stopped and looked around. It seemed an odd place to have a seat. I thought to continue my journey, but something about how the sun rested upon the seat called to me. I sat down. I was correct there was no other view, but the dense thicket. I decided to give it some time.

Wildlife knows when hikers have hit a trail. Alert calls go out to any who can hear to beware, a human is afoot. If you are lacking a quiet presence when you step into nature, you aren’t likely to have many unusual encounters with wildlife. Sit for a time though, and wood life begins to forget you are there and marches onward.

Deer flies lost interest and continued down the path. Bees returned to the wild rose and thistle. The alarming squawking that had followed me from crow to jay, had subsided and now the wood was filled with bird’s singing their daily stories of berries and dragonflies. Rather than the stir of my own progress I now heard the steady movement of the wind through the trees. The sun came and went as it winked between the branches above. The moment was peaceful without the least bit of silence.

When I was younger I did not understand the power of stillness or the value of doing nothing or going nowhere. That stillness is full and rich, rather than dull and silent, as my youthful mind considered. I don’t know who thought to put the bench in the middle of the trail, but I suspect they were someone like me. Someone who had come to appreciate that sitting in the middle of nowhere, looking at nothing in particular, is likely the best seat there is.

A Good Laugh

Taken near Dunn's Landing on Block Island: Photo by Noelle

Taken near Dunn’s Landing on Block Island: Photo by Noelle

Taken near Dunn Landing on Block Island: Photo by Noelle

Taken near Dunn’s Landing on Block Island: Photo by Noelle

I think nature must have a good laugh at our idea of permanence, as she wraps her vines about us.