Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Back from the shore with pix
A blessed friend offered me the use of her shore home on Long Beach Island, NJ, and I gladly took up the offer, went down for a couple of days before HP gets home next week from the rehab to quite a different life from the one we've had.
He will be a wheelchair user, hospital bed required at home, all kinds of assistance to be set up, home nursing, physio, all that. So before that happens to us, it seemed like a great idea to nip to the shore and goof off for a couple of days, which I did.
Monday was a wonderful clear day, sunshine wall to wall, birds everywhere, and I spotted my first Common Loon, in full mating regalia, wonderful bird, black and white, with checkerboard back, but impossible to pic, since they dive when you see them! also other diving birds, ducks, mergansers, etc., all of which were too coy to catch. But I did get a few gulls on the rocks, classic pic.
The house in question was not only lovely inside, as you will see, but is a few steps from the bay side of the island, great for birding, bench for sitting there and everything (this is where people with boats have their slips, but the birds don't care), and a couple of short blocks from the long, beautiful white beach. NJ is a coastal state, so practically the entire eastern side of it is beach, some municipal, some national park beach, some state park beach, all of it wonderful. And LBI is a barrier island, very narrow indeed, just a short walk from side to side.
I really can't do the shore in the summer, too hot and exposed, but in spring and fall it is the perfect destination for someone who likes to stroll endlessly on the sand, watch birds, take pictures of strange creatures, such as the fish you see here, which is about 15 inches long, maybe a skate, maybe not, some muscular item, NOT a shellfish. Small prize for whoever can identify this guy. Very small, since the prize will consist of my grateful thanks!
Tuesday the weather took a turn for the windy and rainy, gah, so it was perfect for reading cosily indoors (Nuala O'Faolain's Getting There, or maybe Almost There, I forget, the book belongs to the house, very good reading, about which more later) and then in the afternoon a trip to the LBI Foundation for the Arts, which had a wonderful exhibition of grade school kid crafts.
Very imaginative projects, ranging from the usual pottery (sea creatures and everyday items such as shoes, rendered in slab and in coil, with a few thrown pieces) to basketry, amazingly good for kids, to Japanese book binding and 3D interior design setups. The only down part was the paintings, which were clearly copies of pictures or photos or something. This is NOT painting, folks! but it's hard for craft teachers to grasp the nature of painting as not something that copies something else as a model....I will save that rant for another time, maybe.
O'Faolain, if I'm spelling her correctly, is a wonderful writer, piercingly honest and even when she's a jerk you have to acknowledge she knows she's a jerk! some of her casual cruelties about her younger siblings really went to my heart, and I doubt very much if she, totally stuck on the damage her mother did to her, has any clue about the damage she has done in her turn to the younger members of her family, and even continues to. But personal issues aside, she truly is a wonderful, very Irish writer, in the lyrical style we kind of expect of an Irish writer. Well worth reading, any of her work.
My car was grateful for a nice long drive at speed, having been chugging about with little local stop and starts for ages now, so the Garden State Parkway speed 65 but you are passed on both sides if you foolishly attempt to drive that slowly, was just up her alley, so to speak. The driver had to get used to it, having also been used to chugging about locally, but this is very good, to keep up that confidence about driving major highways, so as not to kind of shrink my radius!
Presents from the shore for HP: major size clamshells -- they are dredging sand for the beaches from deeper in the ocean, I believe, and they are finding much bigger animals out there than the little clamshells I've always collected for soap dishes. These are HUGE. And some beach glass, a big favorite with me, and a tshirt, just to be as cheesy as possible! his favorite sweatshirt is a canary yellow one with Cape May on it! I hate it, he loves it, wears it all the time he can...well, at least this tshirt is a nice sober blue...and I showed him the collection of beach pix I made, which he wants printed out on a single page, which I will gladly do.
Any little spark of joy is very much to be desired in our lives from next week onward, I think...