Good Morning, Atlantic Beach

The sun rising in the fog over the ocean this morning was so pretty, so fleeting.
She left her car and hurried to a favorite spot at the dune’s edge and watched for a few minutes: a perfect, soft yellow orb, before it slowly melted away, melding with the clouded sky.
Within moments it became a gloomy day but for those few moments the misted sunlight cheered her.

A Very Salt Life Weekend

I was in the Florida Keys and snorkeled at two outstanding reefs: Grecian Rocks in the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, and Chica Rocks, from a charter at Robbie’s  at Mile Marker 77.

(me en route to Chica Rocks)

(the water, the lovely water at Chica Rocks)

Salt Life is a fantastic company that started here in the beaches area and chances are, if you’re a beaches resident, your auto’s rear window sports one of their decals. Mine does. Along with my own atlantic beachlife decal too, but of course!

They sell all manner of cool Salt Life merchandise, all related to love of ‘salt life’. I picked up a couple of tees for my daughter and me the other day, in fact. I love the logo and what it stands for. A love for life near the ocean, and I guess that’s what I’m about here at atlantic beachlife! And they’ve licensed the concept to a restaurant which I am excitedly watching as it takes shape by the day. It’s a terrific looking style from the exterior, very beachy and unique. Salt Life merchandise can be found online and in stores in several states, and it’s just a design that speaks to my inner being.

(she, in hers. she doesn’t like being my ‘twin’ so i’ll wear mine another time.)

I’ll be back to post more about my trip to the Keys later!

Gardening At Night

Because she is nocturnal, gardening at night is her time. She hears only insects, the frogs’ chorus in summertime, the ocean waves always in the background except on the stillest of evenings when the ocean itself seems to be sleeping, too, like the rest of the neighborhood.
Because she lives in a place named in Spanish woods by the sea she feels nestled away from the world. Gardening in daylight invites conversation from nice people but her nature time is time she prefers to have alone. Gardening at night frees her to dress in her raggiest like an old lady with no regard for fashion, which is nothing like her daytime self.

Because gardening at night means tromping about the parts of her yard made visible by the exterior lighting and moonlight, with a garden basket and paper bags she fills with weeds and errant vines. Kneeling on the ground or crawling through the dirt to tend it with her hands, and turning over soil and leaves and mulch is very much a sensuous experience.

Because she’s all about living sensuously these days.

Because gardening at night often means a backyard wood fire for ambiance.

Fires burnt with pinion wood send up such a sweet aroma of woodsmoke that it envelops her when she’s pulling weeds or planting a container of succulents or cultivating the soil in a bed she created years ago. Gardening at night is all awareness of her physical self and what she can create with her gloved hands. And because the pinion woodsmoke is absorbed by her long hair, it’s like perfume to her soul and reminds her later that despite the worries of the day she’s living in place of contentment with her family and her garden with its fire by the sea.

Because gardening at night is quiet, so quiet and still, and she can hear the ocean as though it was just across the street, which it pretty much is. Gardening at night means she can get filthy, crawling on her knees or balancing on her forearms to prune gingers or lop off suckers growing from the ground, before they become more scrub trees that she doesn’t want in her space. Garden dirt mixes with sweat and woodsmoke and she wonders what she really looks like but for once she doesn’t pose for self-portraits.

Gardening dirt is good dirt, sensuous dirt, which along with the woodsmoke from her own fire and salt air and sea breezes and moonlight and humidity are the elements that rouse her spirit. She feels far too awake for 1:30 in the morning.

Gardening at night means she can shake the dirt from her clothes and shower under the open sky. Houses close to the beach often have outdoor showers as hers does; showering outside is sensuous. Showering outside in the rain even more so.

Gardening at night might mean sweeping the curb or pruning the plants in the island on their street where a majestic live oak tree greets her and her neighbors as they come home each day to a landscape that might as well be Hanna Park, albeit with modest homes on lovely tree-canopied lots.

Gardening at night is something she can do all year round if she likes. There is always a time for planting at atlantic beachlife, but there is something about autumn, and even before the autumn becomes chill, but chill doesn’t stop her, that makes her want to be in the night, listening to the surf and spreading mulch by the light of the moon.

Here I Discuss Good Art, Tell You About a Wonderful Piece You Might Like, and Ruminate on Talent

Atlantic Beach has so many great parks, and has such a community soul that even if there was no beach at its eastern border I’d love it still. This park is just a lovely, rambling open area of grass and trees in the middle of the neighborhood and it hosts an art fair every year. Local people, showing such talent that takes my breath away. In comparison I sometimes feel as though I’ve wasted my life and have nothing to show for it. What is my talent? Painters, photographers, textile artists (hello, mommy, and I know you tried with me…) I need something creative to put my name on, and proudly display.

Random sidebar: If you love Scrabble and mosaic art…and grew up watching The Brady Bunch, then there is an awesome piece of art that you must buy, and I’ll be happy to put you in touch with the artist. She’s created the most clever Brady Bunch-esque Scrabble board wall art made from shards of broken pottery; a wonderful piece that calls for an owner who probably needs to love the Bradys and Scrabble in equal measure. It’s not large…maybe 14″ X 14″ and of course, if I’m blathering on about it I ought to have a picture…but seriously, if this is of interest to you just leave a comment and we’ll go from there. She always sells out most of her work – she’s that good – but because this piece isn’t as generic as say, a pineapple or something beachy, she hadn’t sold it in a couple of years. It’s such a fabulous, eye-catching part of her display. I just love it but I know it doesn’t belong with me. Her creativity is amazing and I have thought about it many times in the last year and a half.

She has no idea that I’m writing this; heck, she barely knows me. But she’s a Facebook friend, so I suppose there’s a chance she’ll catch this post via Facebook. But whatever. The mosaic is a terrific piece of art for the right person. I’d love to know where it finally ends up. I wouldn’t be surprised if she just kept it. After all, the concept emanated from her so she’s got to have an affinity for the theme, don’t you think?

It’s fun being surprised by the disparate group of people, neighbors or others who I might recognize from church, or the pool, or seen walking on the beach, people I know nothing about, suddenly (to me) appear as exhibitors at an art fair, or selling their culinary wares ($6.99 for a bag of tasty, homemade granola, baked by a mother-daughter duo, during the midnight hour in an oven they rent from a local restaurant during its ‘closed’ time). It gets to me when I see their talent and success and compare it with my – what? I don’t have anything tangible to offer other than this blog. I hate to admit that I often leave these events with my happy mood evaporated, feeling quite useless and deflated.

But I’ll live to write another day. And if this blog exists as more or less a quiet place with the very nice people who do come and leave such sweet comments, so be it. And if my creative skills run only to repurposing household items with a small can of spray paint, then I’ll learn to be glad of that. Because of my spray paint I have learned that yes I can still enjoy the art I’d bought and framed years ago, but had hidden away because I’d come to loathe the color blue. But for a buck-nineteen, I can change all that.

My favorite local framer, Chao Framing on Third Street in Jacksonville Beach, takes care of the new mat and backing for just a few more bucks. And just like that…new art for us!

So goodbye, baby blue. What was I thinking? It’s nothing but black, these days, my little can of paint, and my newly created gallery wall. I can’t claim the art as my own, but at least I know how to make a gallery wall.