The Red Brick Sidewalk

She loves living in a coastal town that has brick sidewalks.  She loves peering at the inscriptions on the bricks.  For years she’s meant to buy a brick that represents her, and her family, for she’s put down roots here and wants a concrete brick reminder of that; evidence that might in fact outlive her, that she lived and loved here, too. Brick sidewalks are charming, and lend ambiance to her community. The bricks are sometimes dusted by sugar-like sand that blows over from the beach across the street.

Now that her favorite store has moved to a different location, she doesn’t know where she’d like that brick to be placed.  She thinks it needs to be on the Atlantic Beach side of her beloved Town Center, though she cherishes both sides of the street, and the people and merchants and visitors who come and go from here every day.

She hasn’t decided yet.  She’s waited ten years, intending to do this, but her sense of place needs to be just right.  She supposes she’ll wait a while longer, until she finds that sense of peace inside, the same peace she felt when she chose here to be home.

Macro Monday Autumn Garden

It’s becoming a wonderful time of year to be in the garden; perhaps even gardening at night — who knows? The weather’s slowly changing.  We rearranged our outdoor fire pit this afternoon and readied the wood pile.  Pinion wood: check.  A few logs of pinion wood tossed into the pile makes woodsmoke so alluring I can pull weeds and putter in the yard for hours.  There’s nothing like having a small campfire crackling in my own back yard, perfuming the air with its scent and the ocean murmuring in the background – daytime or night.

In the meantime, I’m clearing the beds of their spent plants and doing other chores a summer of neglect has wrought. Pulling weeds and taking pictures: not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
This is what I saw:
There’s a fungus among us.
Summer’s Agapanthus, gone to seed.

Queen Palm frond, its duty done. Behold bokeh.
Garden reader, a gift from my mother. Cherished.
Garden snail who left his shell behind.
Seed pods.

Seed pod from a variegated ginger plant. It blooms in June and remains lovely year round.
The End.

Autumn Arrives at the Beach

Well, it’s the autumn moon tonight and I have to say, it is beginning to feel like Fall here.

What that means is: the light is softer, the air, though still warm, feels less moist, the sea breeze feels drier.  It’s been windy on the beach, which accounts for the noise in the videos (so be forewarned – at a couple of points you’ll want to hit the mute button) but I couldn’t resist posting them as they depict the deliciousness of this day at the beach.

This video was taken with my new iPhone 4.  With its video capability, the new iPhone was able to instantly upload this to YouTube and yes, I am very excited about the possibilities.  I apologize for the wind but I wanted to show you how pretty it was out here today.  
Oh, and don’t worry about iPhone 3G.  She has gone to a new home, to someone who will surely jailbreak her and use her on a reliable cellular network somewhere in the U.S.  I’m speculating on the jailbreak part, but whatever, I got a good price for her so everyone’s happy about that.

Next, I decided to take a video with the Little Canon Elph, to compare the two in quality.  Obviously, the ability to wirelessly upload to YouTube or Facebook or to email a video to someone gives iPhone 4 the edge over the Little Canon Elph in many situations, but I’m not giving up on her just yet.  As a point-and-shoot camera, she’s reliable and performs admirably under many lighting situations.  She also is a sturdy little macro shooter if given half a chance.  So the Little Canon Elph still occupies space in this beachlifer’s purse, and will, for the foreseeable future.

I just happened to have started shooting when the lifeguards showed up to take down the day’s flag, red, indicating the surf could be treacherous.  God bless our lifeguards, and I mean it, but the fact that they got their little beach vehicle stuck in the sand for a bit was too cute not to shoot.  So I kept the Elph going, they knew it and were a bit embarrassed  but before long, they were on their way.  Don’t worry, guys.  I knew you’d get out of it!

It was such a lovely afternoon and although I did not spend any part of it reclined in my beach chair with the books I’m longing to read, I was thankful for the few minutes I had at the end of the day to visit the beach and breathe it all in.

Welcome, Fall, to the beach. We’re not out of the woods yet, hurricane-wise, but this beachlifer is sure hoping …

Macro Monday

A few random shots from the macro lens taken during the weekend.

At One Ocean Resort and Spa, Atlantic Beach.

The fountain in front of One Ocean.
Print is alive and well in Atlantic Beach, Florida.
Butterfly enjoys a penta flower for supper.
The best sunglasses in the world; made here in Atlantic Beach.  Check their Facebook Page for discounts and information.

Autumn light on autumn plantings.
The floating dock at Naked Spring, Gilchrist County, Florida.
Not my brand, but check out the condensation on the can.

The end.

A Beautiful Boy

A beautiful boy left this earth recently. He was on the brink of his future, having just left childhood behind, although one could debate whether newly minted high school grads are really adults. Despite the chronological age of eighteen upon which the government confers the limited rights and privileges of adulthood, I don’t know many people of that age who are capable of self-sufficiency and maturity in decision-making to warrant the legal rights of self-determination; the “I’m-eighteen-and-you-can’t-stop-me,” seems more to be the mantra of our culture, which really aren’t words a fully mature person would even need state.
This beautiful boy was developing into a fine young man in so many ways.  He’d graduated high school and chosen his college, set, in fact, to depart, just two weeks before he died. He was fortunate to have had part-time employment when so many young people are struggling to find some, and it was a fitting job for a high school-en route-to-college-aged person.
He was a likable guy, too; never was one of these annoying little kids you didn’t want coming over to your house.  His cousins thought he was great: he liked cool sports like skate boarding; snow boarding; basketball; wake boarding; disc golf.  He’d obligingly don   proper golf attire and hit the course with his granddad and younger, golfing-obsessed cousin who admired him, even if it wasn’t his first choice of things to do.  He said, “I love you,” freely to people, like his granddad, openly and without reticence.
The last words I heard him say were, “I love you, G-dad,” as he handshook/hugged his 82-year-old grandfather goodbye,  just six days before he went to Heaven; that elusive but real place where souls gather in the glory of the Lord.
He was a kid who lived hard and confident, or so it seemed to me, his aunt who really only saw him once or twice a year, due to distance.  He always seemed to come willingly to visit when we’d be in town, a kid who’d talk to me for real about how he was doing, show me the skating videos he’d made with his friends when he was in 8th grade, complete with a few f-bombs and giving the camera the finger, all of which sort of made the whole thing as cute and edgy as skating down concrete steps and metal hand railings really are.    He knew how to push the envelope, a trait which was pretty much ingrained in him at a young age; a bit more of a risk-taker than some.
He was also a kid who would happily play with his younger cousins; digging in the sand with the three-year-old and cuddling on the couch with the preschool girl, both their faces shining up into my lens from the story he was reading to her at that moment.  He’d grab his shy younger girl cousin and give her a bear hug, and play Pokemon on what ever-evolving handheld gaming system that his younger boy cousin had at the moment.  He was a beautiful boy for people of all ages.
With his peers, he seemed to be at the center of things; their group had developed a certain culture and parlance that indicated their lifestyle and musical taste.  Of course, he had the most gorgeous girl as his girlfriend.  As the faraway aunt I could only gaze at the Facebook pictures to know this maturing boy who was my nephew,  my godson.  When I saw a few recent photos that displayed two sizeable tattoos, I admit it, my heart kind of sank.  I’m old school: I worry when a kid gets tatted for fear of their putting something lame on their body they’d have to wear for all time.  I’ve seen too many of those tattoos already.
So when I saw the beautiful boy the last time, six days before he left us, I was able to hug him and give him his graduation check and couldn’t resist mentioning the tats.  He insisted in lifting his shirt to show me despite my reluctance to look.  What I saw took me by surprise and I felt a visceral sort of relief.
The first one was a banner type – high on the back, shoulder to shoulder; an elaborate scroll with the words “Trust in God” inked there.  Then, along his side torso he’d had his surname inked, in an old English font.

I was glad he’d showed me, glad I looked.  Because I felt, and I  told him, “Well, if you had to have tats, at least you chose something worthwhile, something you can live with.”  I mean, a kid doesn’t choose the motto ‘Trust in God’ if that isn’t the sentiment of his heart.  So I was relieved and happy to see that; not so much when he slung his arm across the shoulder of his 14-year-old cousin (my son) and told him that when he turned 18, the beautiful boy would take him to get his first tattoo.  We had a nervous laugh about that, and then we stood around chatting for a few more minutes until it was time for the beautiful boy to leave.  He and his family were to go camping for a few days, just the four of them, but this would be the first and only time I’d had visit with him during my trip there.
My son, his cousin, had spent a few more afternoons with him, being driven about in the boy’s truck, custom-fitted with sub-woofers that blasted his favorite music and amused my son, who thought it was so cool to drive with him. They’d all played golf with their granddad a few times, and that night, as we were saying goodbye, the beautiful boy parted from us with an idea of getting together one more time for golf, but there wasn’t any time left for that.  We were grateful for the time we did have with him: grateful that my son got to spend time alone with him; grateful that he hung out so willingly with his cousin and granddad; grateful that he’d made the long drive with his parents to gather at a family election night party; grateful that I saw what he’d chosen for his tattoos with my own eyes.  Grateful that my last image of the beautiful boy in life is that of his hugging his elderly granddad with the words, “I love you, G-dad,” before waving to me with a smile and walking through the front door.  Six days later, he was gone to Heaven, forgiven, trusting in God, while his family, and friends struggle with the searing pain of losing such a beautiful boy so unexpectedly.
And now we carry on with the motto the beautiful boy left us:  we Trust in God.

Macro Monday at Salt Springs

A day trip to Salt Springs in the Ocala National Forest brought out the macro in me.  Here are some of my favorite images from that trip.

(notice the bumble bee flying in from the right)

More about the actual springs in the next post!

Hammerheads and Hurricane Surf

On Thursday the ocean was churning like a top loading washing machine: agitated and chaotic.   I’d come to the beach to see the splendor of Hurricane Earl as he was swirling way east of shore and northbound, gifting our coast with  surfing  waves, dangerous rip currents for the rest of us, and otherwise lovely weather.   Although the lifeguard I spoke with reported no rescues that day, I’d heard a woman lost her life in the ocean a day or two earlier, in the wild surf that Earl brought as he advanced north in the Atlantic.

I love the beach any old time and despite sometimes frightening weather situations, the changes in seascape are alluring. I am not a surfer and therefore don’t feel that particular rhythm of the ocean hard-wired into me as they do; they understand how to use the rip current to their advantage and navigate the churn at the shoreline.  Surfing isn’t for the weak!

A young hammerhead shark came in with the surf, disoriented and seemingly traumatized, and instantly surrounded by gawkers like me.

The video’s a bit long, but I was touched by this man’s tenderness with the shark, and his persistence in launching him back into its home, the sea.

I tried to engage him in a bit of conversation after his ‘hammerhead rescue’ but he wasn’t interested in talking.  He’d done his thing, and now going home.

I was rather moved by watching him handle this young shark.  He held onto him and stroked his body.  I assume this gave the shark time to regain his equilibrium so that he might swim well and strong, back into the ocean when the man released him.  The waves were churning at the shoreline and the shark would need to swim through strong, incoming surf, to reach the safety of the sea.  The man held onto him for a few minutes, waded out into the water a bit, and finally released him, and the shark swam away.