Let’s follow the shoreline

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island walking sunset

Step off the pine-needle strewn and tree-lined path; take your shoes off, and bury your toes in the fine, patterned sand. It’s better this way, or at least it’s the kind of adventure you seek today. You and your love arrive a bit before sundown, near where the river meets the sea, and you decide to see how far the tides will let you wander. It’s quiet here, save the rhythmic lapping on the shore and the egret that startles the peace with a harsh call as she dives into the marsh grass.

This is why you chose this place, and you’re grateful for this reminder in the chaos of long days.

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To capture a moment or to live in a moment?

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That’s me and T at the Seafood, Blues, & Jazz Festival here on the island.

No *real* pictures, because they wouldn’t let me bring my camera in. After fuming about that for a good ten minutes, I got over it and ultimately felt thankful for not having that distraction, though I obviously couldn’t resist a quick iPhone picture. I had planned to snap some pictures of the musicians, the grounds, and the seafood, to blog about it. The best laid plans… well, you know.

Instead, I reveled in the magnificence of the sunset over the river with live blues in the background, without the compulsion to capture it on film. Okay, so I did have the compulsion, but I was forced to let it go, and now I feel sure that I saw, felt, and appreciated more of the festival because of it.

Isn’t that a strange fact of our culture today? That ability and desire to record and share any and every moment of our lives? Don’t get me wrong, I love instagramming and pinning as much as the next girl, but I struggle with finding that balance between participating in the fun, fast-paced media frenzy of today and actually living in the moment, appreciating life in real-time. You know?

Marveling at the sunset for what it is: a fleeting, never-still, signal to the close of a day.

A camera can’t translate that reality; it can only represent it, or show a part of it.

Pictures can’t capture it all. Neither can words, of course. Because when we’re experiencing life as it happens, each of our senses contributes to each moment. I’ve noticed that if I’m focusing too much on what I’m going to write about something, or what to take a picture of, I end up missing out on other parts of the moment.

The wafting scent of funnel cake or the gentle sound of water lapping against the shore; the feeling of contentment from warm arms around me as I watch the setting sun quivering brightly on the water.

I think I’ll try leaving my camera at home on purpose next time.

Anyone else experience this tension? Do you have methods to step away from gadgets and technology and revel deeply in life as it happens?

Christmas in Florida

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It seems like every year for Christmas I set the intention to give handmade gifts, and most recent years that hasn’t panned out for one reason or another. Lack of time, or more honestly, lack of planning, is usually the culprit. But this year, I had so much fun making all-natural rosemary soy candles for gifts that it might become a regular hobby. I know, I know, routine and regularity are not often in my vocabulary, but the fun I had with these might just make these an exception to my battle with predictability.

Tommy and I flew down to Florida for the holidays to see my family. We got to spend time with my spunky-as-ever 97-year-old grandma, an avid antiques lover and trader, who has taught me, among countless other life lessons, to honor the life of every timeworn piece. I grew up in her backyard (literally, in a tiny house my father built there), so her home holds layers of my childhood memories, like the yard stick glued to the door jamb that has my brother’s and my growth chronicled in penciled inches; or the towering grandfather clock that used to chime on the hour (and now chimes, it seems, whenever it wants to, sometimes for minutes at a time).

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In the lazy days that followed our Christmas celebrations, we indulged in catching up on reading and drinking lots of coffee.

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And for us, Florida vacations, no matter the season, mean that holy trinity of sun, sand and water, where Tommy and I have both discovered that we feel most clarity and calm. In Sarasota with my dad, we kayaked through mangrove tunnels, walked in the surf, bird-watched, and of course, ate fish and chips.

Back at home for New Year’s Eve, we wrapped up our year quietly, at home, with a bottle of wine andΒ Holiday Inn (one of my favorite holiday movies to date). We’ve got adventures planned for 2013, which I’ll share as they take shape, and I’m so excited the year has begun!

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Montford Rec Center

A month or so ago, Tommy showed me a mini fruit orchard he had discovered at the Montford Rec Center, a park in our neighborhood. It’s small, maybe 10 trees or so, but I love the idea of a public fruit orchard. Most of the trees had almost-ripe fruit: pears, apples, figs, persimmons, and my favorite, loquats.

When I was a little girl, my grandfather had a loquat tree in his yard in Florida, and in my memory they are the most delicious and dreamy of treats. The size of a grape, loquats are a bright marigold color, and they burst with tangy, sweet juiciness. I never thought they could grow in North Carolina because of the cooler weather, so when I saw this tree I melted with joy and childhood nostalgia. Even though they weren’t ripe, I nibbled a few slightly bitter ones off the tree anyway, and vowed to come back soon to harvest these jewels.

But time has that nasty habit of slipping by unnoticed, and when we walked over there last week, I had a sad, sad moment. Every last loquat had been harvested, as well as the apples and pears. All that were left were unripe figs and persimmons. Wahh. I guess the Fruit and Nut Club got there first. Oh, well.

Luckily, it was a gorgeous day at the park, and I got a few pictures. Did I mention you can see Mt Pisgah from the Montford Rec Center?

Chris Jordan and the Midway Project

Since watching citizens of Carolina Beach (see my last post) stand up at a Town Council meeting and share their various arguments to ban cigarette smoking from their beloved beach, and since walking on that same beach, noticing cigarette butts littering the shore, I’ve been reminded of devastation the ocean experiences as a result of human negligence.

The stories I heard that night ranged from logical to deeply emotional. Of course, litter is always an eyesore and a pollutant, but one citizen argued that cigarettes are particularly damaging to our environment, for their hundreds of toxins and the cellulose acetate fibers (plastic) that make them slowΒ to biodegrade.

Another citizen talked of her moving to Carolina Beach on the suggestion of her doctor because she was living with cancer; she requires fresh air and a clean environment to be well, but often when she walks along the beach, the smoke around her causes her lungs to produce an asthma-like attack, requiring her to take medication.

The beach smoking debate made me think of artist and photographer Chris Jordan, who is best known for his large-scaleΒ photography installations that remark on various current social and environmental trends, particularly devastation.

Take a look at Jordan’s most current collection,Β Message From the Gyre, but be warned that it is eye-opening and graphic.Β When I checked his website, I learned that in addition to photography, Jordan is currently working on the Midway Project, a film meant to illuminate the extent to which plastic garbage continues to affect life on our planet. I can’t wait to see the finished film!

“On Midway Atoll, a remote cluster of islands more than 2000 miles from the nearest continent, the detritus of our mass consumption surfaces in an astonishing place: inside the stomachs of thousands of dead baby albatrosses. The nesting chicks are fed lethal quantities of plastic by their parents, who mistake the floating trash for food as they forage over the vast polluted Pacific Ocean.” – Chris Jordan

What I most appreciate about Jordan is his mingling of honesty and hope. Although this project tackles an alarming and monumental environmental tragedy, the Midway Project is not aboutΒ despair. It is a reminder to all of us of our daily choices and our inescapable interconnectedness.

β€œI envision our project not as being a bunch of us tramping around the island with cameras; instead I hope it will be an emotional and spiritual journey by a deeply connected group of artists, to honor the issues that Midway represents. Maybe it is not too ambitious to hopeβ€”if we can fully rise to the occasionβ€”that we might be able to co-create a multi-media work of art that tenderly witnesses this middle point that humanity finds itself at right now. And in the eye of the storm β€”the apex of the Gyreβ€”perhaps our collaborative efforts can create a container for healing that might have some small effect on the collective choice that is to come.” –Β Chris Jordan, http://www.midwayjourney.com