Stop and Smell the Sea Air.

Stop and Smell the SeaSometimes I forget where I am. I get so busy, have so much fun, work so hard, go to so many movies and lectures and book groups and you-name-it, that I forget to remember what brought me here in the first place.

The sea, of course. The vast, empty beaches in winter, where you can walk for what seems like forever, with only the roar of the waves (they really do roar in winter) for your companion, and the only thoughts in your head the ones your imagination can dream up.

I learned that two decades ago when I came here to write my first Vineyard novel. Back then, a solitary walk on the beach helped de-stress my mind, helped set my imagination free. I “met” new friends like Jill, Rita, and Ben—I imagined their lives lived on an island, removed from the world and yet not. Over time, I met dozens of new friends while I strolled on the sand: Liz, Will, and BeBe; Jess, Richard, and Ginny; Mary Beth, Nikki, and Gabrielle. Some politicians, some trust fund babies, some just plain people, like me.

Yesterday, it was almost 50 degrees here. (Nice change from last weekend’s blizzard that limited visibility to your hand in front of your face.) I knew it would be a fine day for beach walking.

I went to South Beach, climbed over a sand dune (it used to be easier to do that), and there it was: the forever-stretch of barren beach, the gray, roaring waves, the tide either coming or going—I’ve never been sure how to tell which way was which. Sort of like life, I guess.

A long time ago, the great Olympic gymnast and wonderful friend, Tim Daggett, said, “If someone tells you they don’t have a dream, you’d better check their pulse.” I moved closer to the water and checked mine. Surprisingly, it was still going strong.

I breathed. I smelled the sea air. And I let myself feel open, once again, to all possibilities, to anything I could imagine. I looked far to my left, far to my right. I saw no one, but I started to walk. As you can see by the photo, I wasn’t the only one who’d been there. Apparently lots of people—perhaps some real, perhaps some imagined—had thought it was a good day for dreaming, too.

Advice of the day: Find your own kind of beach. Then watch the magic happen.

I Can’t Help It.

Something is wrong with me. On these glorious autumn days, I am hopelessly drawn to the beach…South Beach, Fuller Street Beach, Bend-In-the-Road Beach (you can probably figure out how each one got its name).

It’s not the sand or the tides or the end-of-summer warmth that has sucked me in: it’s the wampum.

There, I admit it. I walk along, head down, eyes rotating all around me, searching for perfect bits of purple and white, the hacked up remnants of once-lovely quahog shells than have been bludgeoned by ravenous scavenger sea gulls and left to linger on the shore.

IMG_3730I have quite a collection now. I have also added poor-wampum-relations – sea glass (note the right ear in photo), oyster shells (left ear), and odd pieces of shells that have no form or real attraction other than that they’ve been polished as smooth as velvet by the waves (eyebrows, mouth).

So that’s my confession of the week: My wampum habit has been revealed. I have no idea what I am going to do with my buckets full of perfect specimens…other than to make these charming faces that have become my little friends.

I am having so much fun here, I guess it borders on ridiculous. Perhaps I should write a book instead.