Sunday, April 26, 2009

sunday afternoon

This morning I walked to the beach, as I so often do on Sundays, with my camera in hand,and looking forward to seeing just what yesterday's storms had wrought on the beachscape.  As always, I am guided in my picture taking by intuition, by my artist self, snapping only when certain. I can't tell you what captivates me so about certain images: delicate ivy growing up the trunk of a massive, gnarly tree trunk; evidence of other beings who were there before me, such as birds crowding around a fish carcass and picking it clean; the light on the tops of the beach grass so delicate as the filtered sun bathes them. The sounds have changed from my last visit; the waves caressing the water's edge unimpeded by ice and snow. The rhythm is ancient music that we all respond to, if we listen.
As I walked I thought once again that this place is as constant as anything I have experienced in my life.  As a child, the beach was across Lakeshore Drive, just like it is now,  but in a town south of here called St. Joseph. To get there, I walked through the neighbor's deep lot, past a vegetable garden and a grape arbor, and climbed down the rickety steps that had all of the character of fine driftwood.
My brother and I wandered down there very early one morning with our blankets and rolled up in them, pigs in blankets, and fell asleep to the wavesounds.  I found clay on the sides of the bluff and walked on it, feeling aboriginal.  I watched the boats.  My parents took us out in ours for day-long picnics, the little vessel rocking contentedly offshore, held by the anchor. I made Frank Lloyd Wright houses out of flat stones with my mother. I made sand portraits. I do this, still, and I dig my toes into the sand, and I have to stop myself from diving into those waves before the water warms. When I was little, i jumped in in March once.

Today, of course, so many new things to see, as always: my favorite image was that of delicate bird feet, so lightly impressed into the loose sand and reminding me of Japanese kanji.  This sense of timelessness and newness is the stuff of life-I look in the mirror and I see that little girl walking the beach and building houses with her mother. I see that young mother digging holes in the sand with my Annie; watching Jon, drenched with water, deliriously rolling in the hot sand. I see myself today, slowing down, seeing differently than before, seeing better in some ways, delighted by that which used to elude me.  I see an older me, if I am lucky, still finding the perfect piece of driftwood and trying not to frighten the gulls as I approach. It is the same being and I am seeing her on different days. My essence is the thread that connects us all.

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