I Wasted My Vacation, from Sunup to Sundown

sunrise 3

When anxious, uneasy and bad thoughts come,
I go to the sea,
and the sea drowns them out with its great wide sounds,
cleanses me with its noise,
and imposes a rhythm upon everything in me
that is bewildered and confused.

-Rainer Maria Rilke

beach sunrise 2

Every time we go to the beach I have all these grandiose plans.

Imma gonna ride a bike, run in the mornings. I’m going to read at least three of these five books I packed. I’m going to photowalk every day and stock up on images for every situation. I’m going to write for hours every day and pull ahead of my content calendar. I’m going to try some of the recipes in the vintage cookbooks. I’m going to visit all the stores and do all the cool things. I’m going to finally do the elaborate fashion photoshoot I’ve been turning around in my brain for like 3 years. I’m gonna film some videos in that wonderful morning light.

Best laid plans and all that… this is what I actually managed to accomplish over 10 days of vacation.

 

sunrise on beach 1

I saw the sun rise. Just once, the day before we left.

There was a girl doing yoga on the beach when it finally emerged from the horizon, and I struggled with the ethics of taking her picture. My conscience won out and I have no awesome photo of warrior pose silhouetted against the sun.

sea shells

I collected sea shells. One morning I woke up a little too late to see the sun rise, but it was still early and I was all stiff from driving the day before, so I opted to get some exercise and go for a nice long walk on the beach. It was low tide, and about a quarter of a mile in I happened to see a piece of sea glass, and then a cool triangular rock… and then I spotted a balloon in the water and went chasing after it so sea creatures wouldn’t eat it…

All in all, I went maybe a mile and a half over nearly an hour.

gulls on beach jetty

I went to the beach with the kids and frolicked in the waves quite a bit. I’m still afraid of the ocean, if I’m honest, and very much prefer to be out there when it’s low tide. The rest of my family thinks low tide is boring, but I’m not in it for the excitement. I could have stood there being moved by gentle waves forever.

There is no better balm for whatever ails you. The ocean soothes my soul.

birthday

I celebrated Maverick’s birthday. Fifteen. Fifteen was my favorite year, the year that I came into my own and sort of embraced who I was, instead of hiding it. I loved my friends when I was fifteen and I still think that we were so funny and creative then, together. I’ve met other incredible people and had other wonderfully memorable experiences; I’ve grown to be pretty damn comfortable in my own skin. But no other year as a whole shines for me like 15 did. I’m looking forward to experiencing 15 again with Mav.

with jeff

I had my picture taken with Jeff. This is something that happens maybe twice a year, if I’m lucky.

It’s not the most flattering shot of either of us but my parents left behind so few pictures; I want my kids to have lots of happy memories to sort through.

lighthouse

We climbed 217 stairs to the top of the Barnegat lighthouse on a day that was so postcard perfect it was surreal.

lighthouse beach

It was so bright at high noon that I couldn’t really see what I was photographing; it wasn’t until I was going through the photos later that I realized the beach below had messages laid out in stones. I love that people take the time to do that.

tealhairdontcare

I dyed Jake’s hair teal, which got me in a bit of trouble with Jeff. But it’ll fade away soon enough, as will the rest of his childhood: he turns 18 in November. Is there any better time to take small risks, to indulge in a little whimsy, to have a little fun? He’s got the rest of his life to feel compelled to conform.

Also, he looks so much like a teenage me in this picture; I can’t stand it.

beached shark

I saved a baby shark. There was no one else around; if I hadn’t been there right at that time I’m not sure it would have survived. First I gently pulled it by the tail to the water, but the waves spit him back out on the beach. So I dropped my phone and my camera, picked him up, held him in my hands under the water and took him out past the waves until he suddenly wriggled loose and swam off.

It was one of the most legitimately thrilling things that has ever happened to me. I can’t overstate how affected I was by the experience.

target practice

I went on a date with my husband! We didn’t do anything, really, just got dressed up enough to be presentable and walked around, peering into shop windows, people watching at the amusement park, talking about things we want to do and make and build. It was lovely.

sunset bay

I watched the sun set over the bay. You guys, it goes so much faster then you think it will. It’s so beautiful and it happens every day.

sunset jeff

So basically I didn’t do any of the the things I set out to do. I wasted my vacation, and it was glorious.

I spent a lot of time alone doing not much of anything at all, and more time with friends and family doing things that I didn’t record: eating, playing, dancing, and oh so much laughing. Laughing until my abs and cheeks hurt, until I was crying and hiccuping.

I can’t think of a better way to spend 10 days.

jetty

For whatever we lose (like a you or a me)
it’s always ourselves we find in the sea

-e.e. Cummings

 

Tips for Watching and Photographing the Perseid Meteor Shower

Tips for watching and photographing the Perseid meteor shower

If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years,
how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations
the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown!

But every night come out these envoys of beauty,
and light the universe with their admonishing smile.
―Ralph Waldo Emerson

The night sky is always amazing to behold and ponder, but in mid-August our little planet crosses paths with the Swift-Tuttle comet and pieces of debris enter the Earth’s atmosphere only to burn up in a shining blaze of glory. This year the peak is expected to be on the 13th, with about 50 visible “falling stars” per hour— up to 120 per hour in rural areas with little light pollution.

The 2015 Perseid meteor shower promises to be a particularly spectacular celestial event because of the waning moon; the 14th is the night of the new moon. And here in the mid-Atlantic it’s looking like clear skies until Monday.

This is traditionally the week we spend at the beach, and every year I’m SO FREAKING EXCITED about being able to lie on the beach and watch. And every year it clouds up or even rains (or, if I’m being honest, the peak falls on a weekend and everyone is too talky/intoxicated to want to go to the beach in the middle of the night and I don’t wanna leave the party to go hang out by myself).

The one meteor shower I’ve actually successfully witnessed was the Leonids in November, well over a decade ago. We lived in the city then, and my oldest (who had sleep apnea but we didn’t know it then) used to wake up nearly every hour on the hour. He was maybe five years old at this point. When he woke up around 3am I bundled us both up in blankets and we went out to the top of the slide in our backyard and watched shooting stars until dawn. It was magical, mystical. I’m tearing up thinking about it.

My point is, even though this reliably occurs every year, conditions are rarely ideal the way they are in 2015. Don’t miss out on this chance to create a magical memory with your loved ones.

Tips for watching the Perseid meteor shower:

  • Viewing is expected to be best on the evening of the 12th into the morning of the 13th, but meteors should be visible all week.
  • East coasters, peak viewing time is between 11pm and 4:30am.
  • Early evening is your best chance to see an “earth grazer.” These are slow moving and colorful meteors with long tails that “fall” horizontally. Earth grazers are rare, but amazing to see (we saw one in a pizza parlor parking lot around 9pm a few years ago). And by slow and long, I mean SLOW AND LONG— if I hadn’t been so taken off guard, I definitely would have had enough time to take out my phone and photograph it.
  • The farther you can get away from city lights and other light pollution, the better. You’ll also want to find a field where there aren’t trees or structures obstructing your view of the sky. (Locals, here’s where you should go to see the Perseid meteor shower in Delaware.)
  • Look in the direction northeast, halfway up into the sky. No telescope or binoculars necessary or even desired, as they limit your field of vision.
  • Be patient! I had the best luck just focusing on one section of the sky, rather than constantly scanning.
  • Take advantage of this outdoor time to talk to your kids. It’s amazing what they reveal with time, in the dark.
  • If attempting to photograph a meteor, mount your DSLR on a tripod and use long exposures, 5-30 seconds. Use a fast wide angle lens for larger field of view and less shake. Turn off autofocus and set the focus to infinity. Do a few trial shots first (ideally previewing on your laptop so as not to change camera potions) to determine the best ISO and then program for several shots at a time or use a remote to start (again, for less shake).
  • You can also try meteor photography on your phone with long exposure apps like Slow Shutter Cam, Nightcap Pro or Shutter Stop.

 

Have you had any luck with meteor showers? Will you be out there tonight?

 

starry night

photos from Depositphoto

 

The 3 Most Precious Resources of Life

gulls on beach jetty

 

If I were to name the three most precious resources of life,
I should say books, friends, and Nature; and the greatest of these,
at least the most constant and always at hand, is nature.

Nature we have always have with us,
an inexhaustible storehouse of that
which moves the heart,
appeals to the mind, and fires the imagination—

health to the body, a stimulus to the intellect, and joy to the soul.

To the scientist Nature is a storehouse of facts, laws, processes;

to the artist she is a storehouse of pictures;

to the poet she is a storehouse of images, fancies,
a source of inspiration;

to the moralist she is a storehouse of precepts and parables;

to all she may be a source of knowledge and joy.

-John Burroughs, The Art of Seeing Things


 

I’m spending my days mining the storehouse.

It’s funny how no matter how late I stay up here, I’m up with the birds morning. Something about the quality of the new light so close to the horizon demands that you rub the sleep from your eyes to witness it, and I have never, ever walked the beach close to sunrise and not seen something worth witnessing. It’s the ultimate creation of white space in which to highlight and experience wonder.

Only three weeks remain of the kids’ summer vacation; Jake’s last summer as a child and the first beach week in years and years that I wasn’t working while trying not to disappoint my family.

Savoring every moment.

seagull