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

image

 

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

Rendering of Fat

Painting by Gregory Summers

Painting by Gregory Summers


The first stages were huge rents and gashes in my inner landscape. Hurricanes that tore away known shores and earthquakes that ripped open the well-tended lawns and careful cities I’d built to hold in, both what worked and what didn’t. Just in nature where such events alter the courses of rivers, so too, they altered the course of my deepest waters. Changing direction caused dams to crack open and field breaks to give way, no more than twigs. Tributaries formed for miles filled with mud, fertile and rich that would be ready for life. But in the beginning I only saw snapped off moorings, crushed homes, barren lakes and sandy shoals with little more of life than minnows.

Hundreds of suns, snow and autumn leaves have passed hence. New sprouts have broken through, green and lush. Like tree buds hungry for life, I turn toward the sun. It warms and stirs long forgotten pools of energy, but it’s impact has nurtured more change, subtler and more curious than the first. As shorelines ravaged by storms reshape and build new dunes and forests spring up on land once scorched and burned, I am someone else strange and new, yet never wholly stable. I am melting, it would seem, as rendered fat, strained for impurities without seeking perfection. An alchemical mix of old stories retold, cleaned of sorrow and guilt. Still more floats to the surface to be skimmed off, detritus of costumes torched and gone. Each round less to find and the oil grows more golden and clear. There is a tension, but less struggle. Resistance half hearted that dissolves more quickly to surrender. Each day more leaves me with little fanfare or grief. Even as I weep comes joy and welcomed release. I ponder how easily I have come to the ocean, nearly naked and with so little in my hands. It seems odd how much we carry to define who we are, when what we are can never be defined.

Salt Flats of San Francisco Bay: Part 1

Salt Flats in San Francisco Bay: Photo by Noelle

Salt Flats in San Francisco Bay: Photo by Noelle

Entering the Bay:  Photo by Noelle

Entering the Bay: Photo by Noelle

Pictures will both look best enlarged. This series comes from an arial shoot of the salt flats of San Francisco Bay. Had no idea of their beauty. This is coming into the Bay and the beginning of the drying beds. I have been thinking a lot lately of dimensions. I’d been listening to a scientist presentation on dimensional reality. I’d never given it any thought. It was fascinating to realize how different the world appears to an amoeba and a fly or how there are dimensions beyond the third dimension, that we live in. We have the view of an amoeba to someone else. When I flew over the salt beds it occurred to me I’d driven by these before with my friend, but had never seen them. We walk around all day thinking we see the world, when really we see just a tiny sliver of an infinite whole.

Pour

Free Bing Photos

Free Bing Photos

I wait to empty as all of me pours out
Big rivers and sewer streams
Grass dew and leaky faucets
Gushing forth in love and
Madness, and still
On and on it falls
Draining darkly
Until I feel
My vastness
Running as
Clear as
A deep
Blue
Sea