One Deep Blue

Sitting on the balcony with a cold beer and and the expansive view of a white Atlantic, the muse returns. Escorted on the arm of a gentle breeze on this cool August evening, it seemed as good a time as any to pursue its inspiration.

The sun climbs down the hill behind us after a long day’s journey and the blue and gold sky fades to periwinkle, clouds towering like tidal waves above the horizon, preparing to swallow the shore. The street lamps on Sandy Hook ignite in a synchronized splash and pairs of headlights make their way homeward or adventure bound.

Summer is in full swing though the humid haze called in sick. We don’t miss it.

Nights like these, you can hear yourself think and even turn that off if you wanted to. I tune in to a symphony of birds, crickets, and the exhalation of car engines in the distance. Air conditioners take a well deserved rest and their lack of participation is welcome.

Our eyes adjust to the dimming dusk as the river mirrors the sky. Long Island twinkles animatedly in the distance and the JFK departures rise slow into ombré velvet, brushed just the right way.

I pull up a cozy throw of summer air under my laptop and nestle in with all the other nestling buildings, plants, and people. Together, we all fade from view into one deep blue.

No Hurries, No Worries

Fully breakfasted and armed with a steaming mug of chamomile and honey, I sit on our turquoise couch, which is turning more green than blue from soaking up the frequent eastern sunshine that streams through our living room windows. Outside those windows waits a perfectly clear fall day. The “Big Blue” suits its nickname this morning, sparkling dreamily up at me. Sailboats drift calmly in a gentle, southward wind and speed boats bounce excitedly on the surface of the water, trailing long, fluffy, white tails.

With only wisps of clouds on the distant horizon, sweeping glows of sunshine, and a cool, lazy breeze, today is simply beautiful and I feel lucky to be an audience to it, comp-ticketed for no reason other than that this is where we live.

We have only one errand to run today and the rest of the time is open and changeable as the Big Blue. Sometimes, having nothing much to do is exactly the right medicine for an overworked mind.

As an over-planner, these sorts of days can be confusing, sometimes even frustrating, to me. Sometimes, I’ll think, I should have planned something to do with all this time; what a waste. Sometimes, I chance upon these sorts of days after cancelled plans or changes in weather patterns and am bored, longing for an activity that I do not have to brainstorm and choose. This is not the case today and I’m excited to make the plan as we go, lagging behind the heels of the day as they race on ahead of us toward midnight. We are in no rush to catch up.

My usual wandering mind is calm and quiet this morning, patient and relaxed, just waiting to go with the flow of where the cool breeze takes us. I am grateful that my brain is not buzzing, as usual, with the need to tidy or plan, to start and complete work tasks, or to make decisions. This morning, it is just living in the moment and that is exactly what the rest of me needs.

I feel calm and rested for the first time in over a week, the anxiety drained out of me and replaced with pleasant, positive thoughts and soothing warm tea and honey to balm the wounds. Looking out at the ocean, twinkling reassuringly, I am reminded that I am in exactly the right place and that I want to go dip my toes in the Atlantic’s crisp, chilly shallows later on, just for a moment, before I chicken out and hide my feet in a blanket of cool sand.

The Gathering Place

I sit on the porch of our family shore house listening to the morning symphony of foam flip flops shuffling along slate sidewalks to the boardwalk, the gentle rumbling of car engines in slow pursuit of good parking spaces, and the sweet-tuned gossip amongst the birds singing the breaking news of summer from the trees lining the street.

The breeze is cool and a cocktail of salty humidity clings to the furniture as the sun spotlights the modernized facelifts of our street’s once Victorian-style dollhouse homes.

I can usually see the ocean from this spot on the cozy wicker sofa, but the hedges around the porch have grown a little too accustomed to a casually untidy appearance which we can all pretty much relate to from living through a worldwide pandemic. I could use a trim as well but that can wait a while longer. These are those lazy, hazy, crazy days of… well you know, after all.

(The birds’ news reel plays on a loop).

I was too lazy to prepare the coffee this morning and didn’t want to wake anyone sleeping on the first floor with the bubbling gasps of the coffee pot. So instead, I gathered my laptop and headed out to the porch to sit in the breeze and be inspired by summer. Not too long after, I am joined by my cousin and her young son and demands for bubble time take priority. Wobbly iridescence floats heavily on the air and splash lands on the floorboards while the writing takes a rest.

Welcome distractions abound in this family-filled old house. These walls tell stories of use and love – of our own contained family history in this little shore town. The rooms are filled with laughter and conflicting TV volume preferences – with movie decision fatigue and lazy mornings sipping coffee. The scent memory of freshly baked Italian rolls and cinnamon sugar crumb cake permeate the dining room and waft up the stairs like a buttery apparition encouraging everyone to wake up in slow procession.

The memories of past experiences and loved ones long gone remain alive in this magical place, preserved like old time postcards in a frame. This house tells us stories and helps us write new ones. It makes us laugh till our bellies and our cheeks ache or even sometimes, till we pee “our” pants (IYKYK). It is where we have gathered for my whole life- where I got to know my family as a whole and I am so grateful for all that it gives us. We try our best to do right by it and keep the experiences going, even when it gets hard or we don’t have a clue what we are doing.

But now it is time to put away the laptop and enjoy the first day of summer – to bask in the salty breeze of the shore, with the only current task at hand of pondering when to head to the beach.

Sirena

This morning, it’s time to dust off those keyboard cobwebs and get some words down. Since my last post, the temperatures in our corner of New Jersey have been cooling on a slow simmer, seasoned with a pinch of chill and a splash of crispness. The daylight hours have a bluer tinge and grow more fleeting with late September’s progression. The trees have started pulling out a few of their fall colors from vacuum-sealed space bags in Mother Nature’s walk-in closet and the crowds no longer flock to the beaches down the shore.

When people think of the fall season, I assume many do not associate it with the beach. I, however, do, and am particularly excited to be reacquainted with fall at the shore this year.

Ever since my mom’s family starting renting the family shore house during the off season for the past I – lost – count – how – many years, I have been nostalgic for the empty beaches that result from the change in season, the expansive shoreline carpeted in cold sand, littered with the treasures of washed ashore sand dollars, backdropped by the dunes’ mountainous terrain, a fortress to hold back the salty tides during storms.

The shallows are warmest now, in early fall, after cooking under the hot sun throughout the summer months. Jelly salps dot the shoreline like sparkling, solid bubbles and the towel and umbrella colonies and impromptu nerf football games have vanished until Memorial Day Weekend. The crowds are gone and peace settles heavy on the sand, adjusting the arms of its Tommy Bahama beach chair until the back is at a comfortable angle.

And once fall is settled on the shore and summer put to rest in a storage bin with its corresponding seasonal items, it is time to allow the crash of the waves and whispering pull of the tide to echo as it reverberates off the dunes. It is time to let the sirenas’ sea song surround you, an intimate audience, in a fluid turned dissonant composition, mystifying and overwhelming in its power.