To end the summer, we spent a week on the beach in North Carolina. I love the gluey salt musk of air you can nearly swim through, 53 shades of weathered wood, 553 shades of ocean, painted in play with sun, cloud, wind. And diving into that water—that gorgeous envelope of water opening and folding around the body.
I took long, shelled walks on the beach, my step-daughter Molly identifying everything for me—scallop, cochina, kitten’s paw, prickly cockle, buttercup, jingle shell—an artist’s delight. It became difficult to actually walk—more of a hobble and stoop, hobble and stoop—to name and touch everything at our feet.
When I returned home, I was (kind of) ready to catch up on grant applications, start fall journal submissions, all the fun stuff of being a writer. After a couple of hours of a different kind of hobble and stoop, I extricated myself for a quick break—coffee, stretch, message check, and returned to this:
I guess some people (small, furred, pointy-eared people) who didn’t get to go on vacation needed some attention.
So we took a walk down to our Lake Erie beach (yes, some of these feline people like to take walks to the beach) to stretch our legs. As we did, I felt some slight lamentation at the absence of things: hot salt air, the deep beach with its finely-ground sand, those treasured shells. But then, hey—look over there—the shape of that stone, the rounding of that water-worn brick, the sword-shape of that piece of wood, thrown out and washed back again and again.
Trite but true, that thing Dorothy says about your own backyard (still, it’s good to go to Oz once in a while). It reminded me of a writing exercise I learned long ago, have used myself and re-taught in various forms over the years: meditating on a simple object, apprehending it with all of the senses, then letting symbol, metaphor sneak in as you write. Another wonderful way to enter an alternate world. And more fun than pecking away at applications and submissions, for sure.
Happy trails, happy writing, wherever you are.