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Goodbye, Summer.

Summer and early morning walks on the beach go hand in hand for me. As we say goodbye to summer, come with me for one last stroll along the Rhode Island coastline. We’re walking along a piece of coastline only a mile or two east of where the SeaMount series is set. Breathe deeply. There’s a tang of salt in the air.

 

A calm morning.

A calm morning.

 

 

A flock of sandpipers and one piping plover.

A flock of sandpipers and one piping plover.

 

Blue shell crab.

Blue shell crab.

 

Piping plovers - their nesting areas are protected.

Piping plovers – their nesting areas are protected.

 

Slipper shells clinging to a stone.

Slipper shells clinging to a stone.

 

Wedding cake sand sculpture. Was there a wedding on the beach last night?

Wedding cake sand sculpture. Was there a wedding on the beach last night?

 

Huge horseshoe crab. He's dead.

Huge horseshoe crab. He’s dead.

…but this one is very much alive and carrying freeloading slipper shells…

…but this one is very much alive and carrying freeloading slipper shells…

 

A foggy morning. A train of waves coming ashore.

A foggy morning. A train of waves coming ashore.

 

Seaweed on the beach after a storm.

Seaweed on the beach after a storm.

 

'Summer cottages' against the morning sky.

‘Summer cottages’ against the morning sky.

 

The blue of the Atlantic Ocean meets the blue of the sky.

The blue of the Atlantic Ocean meets the blue of the sky.

 

Slack tide. Where the water coming in from the ocean meets the water leaving the salt pond.

Slack tide. Where the water coming in from the ocean meets the water leaving the salt pond.

 

A beach rose with a visiting bumblebee.

A beach rose with a visiting bumblebee.

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Coastal Mantle

The chipped and peeling old window I brought home from my neighbor’s yard sale is on the mantle. My original plans included a garland but time just hasn’t been on my side. With the end of August looming the coastal theme will soon disappear so here are ‘the bones’.

I bought the little sandpiper bird years ago at a craft fair. It’s made of fake fur and has a leather bill. The clam shells are from local Rhode Island beaches. Can anyone go to the beach and not collect treasures?

The conch shell dates back to my senior year of high school and my trip to St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. The trip was a graduation present from my employers, Mr. and Mrs. Sullivan. They paid for the air fare and I stayed in their winter home with them for an entire week. What an adventure. The conch shell is from a day of boating and snorkeling.

The shell pieces in the jar were collected on Sanibel Island, Florida during a family vacation. Even broken, the soft colors of the tumbled bits of shells are appealing.

As the season begins to change so does the late afternoon light. The shadows in my dining room are longer and muted.  Soon my baskets filled with seashells, beach stones and sea glass will be tucked away. Another summer is winding down and that gives me a twinge of sadness, but not for long. Pumpkins and the vibrant colors of fall are just around the corner.

“Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves,
We have had our summer evenings, now for October eves!
― Humbert Wolfe

Thanksgiving Traditions

My family celebrates Thanksgiving with a feast that has a traditional New England flavor. The menu includes root vegetables and thick skinned ‘winter’ squash that, in days of old, would have been stored in a cool root cellar.

Turkey with gravy
Bread stuffing
Mashed potato
Butternut squash
Creamed onions
Turnip
Cranberry sauce
Pickles
Rolls and butter

With family members marrying, moving away or returning home, the mix of people may not be the same every year. Occasionally the venue changes, and appetizers are now served before hand. But the main meal menu remains the same. It’s traditional. This is the holiday my family gathers for fellowship and feasting.

After the turkey, we feel like this:

A nice long walk is the cure.


If someone wants to gather greens for Christmas wreaths, we’ll walk in the forest crisscrossed with old stone walls and a tumbling stream.

Other years we’ll walk on the beach. The waves boom as they come ashore and the blustery wind tugs at our clothes. We’ll come home with bits of sea glass, pretty rocks, and sand in our pockets.

All the walking helps settle that large noontime dinner. So once we’re back indoors, it’s time for a turkey sandwich and pie. Actually, I just go for the pie! Half slices of several different kinds, because they are all favorites and I love homemade pie.

I love Thanksgiving.
Family, Fellowship and Food.
I have so much for which to be thankful.

Misquamicut State Beach, Rhode Island

A beautiful day today! Went to the beach to have lunch with friends.

Weekapuag in the distance. I’d like to thank the seagulls for cooperating with my photo shoot.

Looking towards the Watch Hill Lighthouse.

The salt pond and salt marsh on the other side of Atlantic Avenue.

Early Morning Walk on the Beach

Summer: Expectations vs Reality

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Warm days. Family picnics. Juicy watermelon. Sand castles and body surfing. Lightening bugs and county fairs. Summer! I always have such high expectations for this short season. Can’t wait for summer! Where did the ideal I dream of come from? Beach blanket movies? The Beach Boys music? (Okay – so now you know my age.) A happy childhood perhaps? Building forts in the woods, digging quahogs in the salt pond, swinging in Gramma’s hammock are some of my summer memories. My responsibilities consisted of age appropriate chores and no other worry in the world.

Looking back from an adult perspective, I see what my kid-self missed. Daddy working full-time in the hot mill, plus an additional two or three other jobs to feed his growing brood. Mommy recording every penny she spent in a small account book. The worry over aging parents and sick kids. The loss of loved ones. Some of the same concerns and tragedies that have intruded on my adult summers and left me longing for the innocence of childhood.

This spring has been filled with news of floods, tornadoes, forest fires and earthquakes. National tragedy and personal loss have already made a mark on my summer – and it’s only just arrived! My heart goes out to all those who have lost homes, jobs and loved ones. Summer will not be idyllic for so many as they struggle to rebuild lives ravaged by accidents, wind and water.

In Out of the Wilderness, there’s the fun of a bonfire on the beach, swims in the ocean, a ride on the carousel, but the threat of tragedy weaves through the happy times. Just as in real life.

Real life. A patchwork of happy days and sad times. Days filled with highs and lows of every measure. The distance between my expectations for summer and the reality grows wider with each passing year. There is no returning to the blissful summer days of my early years. God’s plan for me was not to stay forever young.

He knew since my conception what every summer of my life would hold. Some would have more rainy days than sunshine. This year may unfold with winds as gentle as butterfly wings or as destructive as a hurricane. God never promised only good times, but He did promise to always be with me and help me through the difficult times. And therein lies the joy I can claim. Being present in each circumstance while drawing on God’s mercy and grace.

I can’t return to what summer ‘used to be’, but I can move forward confident in God’s grace. Drawing my strength from Him, I can handle what comes my way and know that because He is merciful, He will give me new happy memories along the way.

Watermelon, any one?

What are your happy memories of summer?

God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Sea glass

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On my window sill is a small bottle filled with water and the sea glass I’ve collected on the local beaches. The sun shines through the shards of glass in a beautiful medley of sparkling clear, soft green, aqua, brown and even a rare cobalt blue. Each piece has been tumbled and smoothed by water and sand before it washes up on the shore.

For the past three years, I’ve felt like a piece of precious sea glass, roughed up by the harsh sands of change, whirled through waves of disappointment. The loss of a job I’d had for thirty years, upheaval within my church family, delays as I work toward my writing goals. I wish I could say my faith has been strong and unwavering the entire time. But like any child, I’ve had less than stellar moments, approaching my Heavenly Father whining and crying, ‘no fair’.  With an abundance of mercy and grace, He’s lovingly held me through the tumbles I’ve taken.

Clinging to His promises, I’ll continue to wait and trust, knowing He’s smoothing my broken jagged edges and making me into someone more precious and rare than I would be if left in my natural state.

“The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not abandon the works of your hands.”

Psalm 138:8

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