Footprints in the Sand

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Casting off her sleek brown pelt (but holding it close), she rises from the surf. No goddess, though men will be drawn to her, despite–or perhaps because of–her otherworldliness. Through the waves, she walks, clumsily at first, as she adjusts to two legs and to being upright. The world looks different to her now. It feels different, too. The air is cool against her skin; the breeze dances across the new womanly curves of her body. She steps onto the beach, eager to embrace this life, if only temporarily, leaving footprints in the sand. The sea covers and takes them, keeping a trace of her to hold in its depths till she returns to it. And she will.

 

I’m late, but this is for Frank’s Footprints in the Sand challenge.    

Another selkie story–because, well, selkies.

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Time Tumbles

Monday Morning Musings:

 

When I was young I played on the beach with my sister

we built sand castles and moats

and body-surfed the waves

peaches and plums dripped with sticky sweetness under the summer sun

for years, I imagined their taste mixed with bits of sandy grit–

memories held in mind’s drawers, sliding in and out,

tumbling in time

 

My love and I walk the beach hand and hand

summer-warm skin, golden-toasted

bodies young, futures imagined

(but not)

lazy days and languid nights

hot kisses dancing across flesh

burning, tumbling in time

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We walk the beach holding a daughter’s hand,

we walk the beach holding two daughters’ hands,

watch them build sand castles and body surf in the waves

we get hugs and kisses

ice cream melts down faces and onto summer dresses

laughter and tears when storms come

and time tumbles

 

We walk the boardwalk with grown children

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nieces and nephews run ahead and behind

and on top of railings

(Get down from there, Sammy!)

talk of family and this and that

warm summer days

warm memories

ice cream that melts and drips down our fingers

 

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(lick it off)

the sun sets

and the ferris wheel spins,

the moon smiles down on us

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I hear the ocean sing

waves tumbling

like time

 

I hold my love’s hand as we walk across the sand

the tide pulls, ebbs and flows

time tumbles again and again

 

 

Yesterday was our 39th anniversary. We went to the beach for a few hours and then out to dinner. A wonderful day!

 

The Beach, a Memory: NaPoWriMo

Dimply in the dapply light,

she danced in joy, my little sprite

the sea breeze tossed her springly hair

while seabirds squawckled in the air

she skipped upon the golden sand

till her father took her by the hand,

together they walked to wavy sea

(tumbling, white-capped, spumey sea)

where in a Jersey summer rite,

she jumped right in, such pure delight

 

Day 18, NaPoWriMo. The prompt was to incorporate neologisms, made-up words.

This poem is based on my memory of the first time our older daughter saw the ocean.

A Day at the Beach, with a Side of Guilt

Monday Morning Musings:

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“Like as waves make towards the pebbled shore,

so do our minutes, hasten to their end.”

William Shakespeare, “Sonnet 60”

 

“The idea was fantastically, wildly improbable. But like most fantastically, wildly improbable ideas it was at least as worthy of consideration as a more mundane one to which the facts had been strenuously bent to fit.”

–Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

 

Fantastically, wildly improbable,

but worthy of consideration,

a plan to get my mom to the beach for the day.

A notion hatched by H.

on Saturday afternoon, for the next day.

Younger daughter and I already had plans

because we like things set in advance,

definite, not tentative,

BUT

we decide to go along with this wildly improbable,

but worthy of consideration idea,

despite the weather forecast.

Isn’t it supposed to thunderstorm?

(My first question to H.)

Texts and phone calls back and forth.

 “Jewish guilt will always force a change in plans.”

(Daughter says to me.)

So plans evolve.

We’ll travel in the morning,

have lunch there

and return home early to avoid the traffic.

Husband and I will still get together

with daughter and her husband later for dinner.

A horrible, wonderful, wildly improbable idea,

a beach day for my mom.

 

Three cars from three destinations travel to Ocean City, NJ.

It’s a Seinfeld episode,

or any sitcom,

the human comedy,

the comedy of errors

What could possibly go wrong?

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My husband and I are the first to arrive in Ocean City.

We drive around, looking for a place to park the car.

We park.

The downpour begins.

I text the others

We’re here.

We’re sitting in the car

Waiting for the rain to stop.

Trying to be optimistic.

Oh, I hear thunder now.

Daughter replies

There’s a flood watch in effect.

All day.

But the skies clear,

the sun comes out

and my husband and I walk to the beach.

The sun is shining.

The beach looks washed and clean.

It is beautiful.

Daughter and her husband arrive.

They have met

H., her family, and my mom,

who have decided to walk on the boardwalk.

They will have lunch there.

We have packed our lunch,

but I expect we’ll see them soon.

Daughter and I walk on the beach,

walk and talk,

gazing at the ocean

looking at the gulls,

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watching people,

the little boy who wanders in circles,

shovel in hand,

smile on face,

I keep expecting H. to text me

so we can help them

get my mom onto the beach.

I don’t want them to miss this beautiful day.

But no text.

We return to our beach chairs.

Daughter sits down with half a PB&J sandwich,

she takes one bite,

I hear a scream,

a gull has snatched the sandwich from her hand.

Scary, but kind of amazing.

We wait for H.,

and watch dark clouds moving in.

We wonder where they are,

she hasn’t answered the texts.

It’s getting close to when we planned to leave.

A beach checker comes by.

Do you have beach tags?

We don’t.

We decide to pack up,

and wait for H and family on the boardwalk.

Daughter sees them then–of course.

H. has paid for a special wheelchair contraption to get my mom onto the beach.

My mom can’t get into it.

So my mom holds H’s arm on one side

mine on the other, and

we begin a slow walk over sand,

a few feet that seem like miles.

H’s husband sets up their umbrella and chairs,

and it begins to rain.

My husband and daughter have packed up our things.

We leave my mom with H’s family on the beach,

feeling guilty,

but it stops raining.

at least for a time.

 

In the evening, after showers and rest

my husband and I eat pizza and drink wine

with our daughter and her husband,

dog and cat sitting with us companionably.

We watch an old Star Trek movie,

it also involves fantastically, wildly impossible ideas,

but we know Captain Picard and his crew will triumph over

the creepy Borg Queen,

love, friendship, kindness, and creativity

trump evil,

humanity will be saved

once again,

a comforting thought.

I haven’t heard yet what happened

with H., her family, and my mom.

I hope they had a great time on the beach.

It’s a fantastically, improbable idea

but one worthy of consideration.

 

 

 

 

 

Reflections on an Assateague Beach

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And so the branch lies there bleached white

Its leaves no longer court the light,

Torn by wind, weathered by spindrift,

Like Ozymandias it stands

A reminder, beached on the sands.

Time’s horses fly, colors redshift,

Yet we remain through words and art,

Cover distances though apart

We’re born, we love, our journey’s swift.

 

This is for Jane’s Poetry Challenge 23: Nove Otto  9 lines, 8 syllables, aabccbddb

 

The Water is Wide, but It Connects Us All

Monday Morning Musings:

“The water understands

Civilization well”

–Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Water”

There’s a spin instructor

At my gym.

She sometimes lifts her water bottle

And says, “community drink.”

When she says that

I picture a group of people

In a smoky old tavern

Passing around a mug of ale.

History brain.

And as soon as I think “history brain,”

Referring to myself

You understand,

I begin to ponder drinking in

Revolutionary Era America.

At the City Tavern

In Philadelphia

The bill for “55 Gentlemans Dinner & Fruit”

In September 1787

Went mainly for alcohol.

Madera, Claret, Porter, and Beer,

And don’t forget the “7 Large Bowels of Punch.”*

George Washington

Had a distillery at Mount Vernon,

The largest one in North America

At that time.

His hogs were fed the slops.

No waste on the farm.

Perhaps his neighbors

Drank to his health

With the whiskey

They bought from him.

Eighteenth-century toasting

At the table could be an ordeal.

With each guest toasting the health

Of everyone there

And on

And on

Till they could toast no more.

But perhaps it was better

Than drinking water in the city.

Dr. Benjamin Rush once

Lauded the murky water

Of an urban well,

Saying that its mineral waters

Could cure a host of conditions

From flatulence to rheumatism.

But it turned out its peculiar scent and taste

Was due to its connection to a privy.

Ooops.

I guess the doctor is not always right.

Well, well.

There’s a scene in A Town Like Alice

Where an Englishwoman

Returns to a village

In Malaya,

A place where she lived and toiled

During the war

After the Japanese took control

And force-marched her with

Other women and children

Over hundreds of miles.

She had money after the war,

An inheritance,

I think,

And so she goes back

To ask the headman of the village

To let the women have a well.

A small thing

But huge to them.

The scene has stayed in my mind

After all these years.

And I think about how in many parts of the world

Women and children are at risk every day

Because they must fetch the water used for

Cooking,

Drinking,

And washing

From miles away.

They can be assaulted

Or kidnapped

Or killed.

And women in some places

Do not have sanitary facilities

During their monthly periods

And so they cannot go to school

Or to work.

Water.

Those of us who have it

Take for granted that we can turn on a spigot

And there it will be.

And I just realized we haven’t seen

The Walking Dead survivors boiling water

To drink

Not that I remember anyway,

I could be wrong.

But then I guess if you’re already

Infected with a zombie virus

It doesn’t matter much

About the water.

Water from faucets,

Wells, springs, and rivers,

The Amazon,

The Nile,

The Thames,

The Tiber,

The Ganges,

And the Delaware

That flows not far

From my door.

The Delaware River from Red Bank Battlefield

The Delaware River from Red Bank Battlefield

All giving rise to cities

And civilizations.

And the oceans–

The magnificence of whales

Killed to supply people with

Oil for lights and corset stays.

The tides call to them

And to us.

I think about my four-year-old daughter

Twirling and jumping on the beach,

Sheer delight at seeing the ocean

For the first time.

Then the day both girls

Were terrified by a storm

That arose suddenly

On that same beach

As if Poseidon himself

Had awakened–

But was not very happy.

Nothing like a grouchy god.

Air and water blended

Into a mist,

The sand whipped us

In tiny, stinging pellets

As the wind howled

And the waves crashed.

And then just as quickly,

All was once again calm.

Water

And life.

Playful otters

Who cavort in rivers

And salmon that swim upstream

To spawn.

Fanciful beings who

Live between water and land,

Selkies,

Mermaids,

The Lady of the Lake,

And Nessie, too.

We build bridges over troubled waters.

And we sing in the rain.

We paint water lilies

And glance at reflections,

Illusions

And ripples

Time passing

On the water.

I'm fascinated by reflections on the water. Knight Park

I’m fascinated by reflections on the water.
Knight Park

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We humans spend nine months

In a fluid-filled sac,

Emerging from the womb

To gasp, breathe,

And let out that first cry

Announcing,

“I am here.”

Like our ancestors

Who surfaced from the sea

To build a life on land.

But still,

The water calls.

Spinning thoughts

As I pedal

And the wheels turn.

Connections,

Community,

Though the water is wide.

Raise your glass.

Drink.

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Sources:

* “Entertainment of George Washington at City Tavern, Philadelphia, September 1787

http://teachingamericanhistory.org/convention/citytavern/

Merril D. Smith, The World of the American Revolution: A Daily Life Encyclopedia (ABC-CLIO, 2015).

A Town Like Alice (miniseries 1981 with Helen Morse, Bryan Brown, and Gordon Jackson) based on Nevil Shute’s 1950 novel.

There are so many versions of the folk song, “The Water is Wide.” Here is James Taylor singing it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=opfEk_Yoksk

By the Sea

Monday Morning Musings

We made it.

Down the Shore.

Circling for blocks

And blocks

For a parking spot.

We are a bit farther

than we planned

But it doesn’t matter.

Because we’re here.

And we sit and gaze

At the waves.

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And at the sky.

Plane pulls an advertisement for the Impression Exhibition we saw at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Plane pulls an advertisement for the Impression Exhibition we saw at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

And at the people.

The girl striking ballet poses

For her mother’s photo shoot

She’s all arms and legs,

Coltish

Her arabesque held

Only for a second.

Fleeting,

like this day

In a long line of days

that make up life.

But proud

In her youth.

“Look what I can do!”

In her life

It’s been an eternity

Since she was that toddler

Carefully placing each foot,

Her diapered bottom just inches

From the sand.

But to the sea

It’s only a second.

Then there’s

the couple playing catch.

And the family digging

A huge crater in the wet sand.

What are their stories?

I wonder.

We read our books,

And we gaze some more.

My husband's pensive pose.

My husband’s pensive pose.

There are no shark sightings.

But there is this little guy.

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The day is cloudy at first,

But still it’s lovely

Sitting there.

Then the sun comes out,

And it is glorious.

A perfect beach day.

The very definition.

Blue sky

A few puffy white clouds

Not too hot

And

A light breeze from the water.

We hate to leave,

But we’ll be back

Some other time.

After all,

The ocean is always here.

We simply need to pause

sometimes to see it.

A stop for water ice

Mango Water Ice

Mango Water Ice

Before we walk back to the car

And home to reality—

Showers and feeding the cats–

And feeding ourselves.

Of course.

But we were

By the sea,

By the beautiful sea.

You and me.

Finally.

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Blueberries Mean Summer

I’m often surprised to discover how certain foods trigger such vivid memories, at least for me. Early yesterday morning I heard a report on the radio about the record blueberry season happening right now in New Jersey. Hmmm. . .blueberries.Image

Well, I just happened to have some of those delicious New Jersey blueberries in my refrigerator–and the time to bake some blueberry muffins.

I can’t remember the last time I made muffins. I bake frequently—cookies, bread, cake, fruit crisps, and on and on. But since our daughters are not living at home, my husband doesn’t eat breakfast, and I usually have a big bowl of oatmeal for breakfast (sometimes topped with blueberries) to sustain me through morning work and sometimes morning workouts, I haven’t baked muffins in quite a while. Today seemed like the perfect day. Our younger daughter is home, and I had the opportunity.

I followed a recipe I got from the BarneGate Bed and Breakfast in Ocean City, NJ. We used to stay there each June, as I mentioned in a previous post. The couple who owned the place retired several years ago, but my family and I think fondly of them and of our summers at their cozy inn. Opening the spiral-bound collection of recipes elicits numerous memories of our stays there, sitting in the dining room while we ate muffins, drank coffee, and talked to Frank and Lois, the owners. Each summer they commented on how our girls had grown and asked what we done during the past year. They filled us in on what had happened in their lives, too. Our family looked forward to our vacations there every summer. In my mind I picture those long ago summers when our children were younger, and so were my husband and I. . .so many memories triggered by yesterday’s muffins.

When our daughter woke up and came downstairs to find the freshly baked muffins, she was pleased and excited. (We get excessively excited by food in our household.) Then she stopped and told me the muffins made her think of her beloved cat Michael, who died during her senior year in high school. She had remembered that she couldn’t leave blueberry muffins on the table because he would eat them. Michael would eat almost anything that we left out, not simply meat, milk, or cheese, but baked goods, too. We could never leave baked goods to cool on the counter unattended. For some reason, he particularly enjoyed blueberry muffins. Not that we ever gave him muffins or any food not labeled cat food, but he could was very clever—and fast—and he had super-cat powers when it came to finding food. (He got excessively excited about all sorts of food, too. I guess he was a natural fit in our household.)

So yesterday’s muffins brought back bittersweet memories to both my daughter and me, but that didn’t stop either of us from eating them.
And they were delicious.. .

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but really, how can fresh, blueberry muffins not be delicious?

BarnaGate Bed and Breakfast
Old-Fashioned Blueberry Muffins (with some adaptations)
Makes 12 Muffins
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. nutmeg
2/3 cup sugar
½ tsp. salt
2 eggs
½ cup butter, melted
½ cup milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
1 ½ cup blueberries
¼ cup sliced almonds mixed with 2 Tbsp. sugar for garnish (I finely ground almonds and mixed with sugar—I probably used more of both almonds and sugar.)

Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Add blueberries; stir to coat evenly.
In small bowl beat eggs with fork; beat in milk and butter.
Add wet mixture to blueberry mixture; stir just until blended.
Fill pans 2/3 full and sprinkle with almond-sugar mixture.
Bake for 15-25 minutes.

A Day at the Beach

We sat on the beach and watched the ocean.

I saw a dolphin jump.

His tail waved a saucy good-bye to us,

mere humans,

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Ocean City, New Jersey, 2013

land-dwellers and flipperless,

left behind to face our Earth-bound existence,

as he dove back under the waves.

We read.

You slept.

The tide ebbed and flowed,

As have our years together.

Tides, births, deaths—

The rhythms of nature,

The rhythms of life.

Dawns and dusks.

Midnight toasts.

Laughter

Tears

Joy

Pain

Desire

Till death do us part.

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My Flip flops
Ocean City, New Jersey,
June 2013

It was good to forget

for a few hours

the deadlines and tasks of everyday,

human,

not-dolphin life.

Instead, we simply relaxed—

What a concept!

And watched the tide ebb and flow

Until it was time to pack up and go home.