Ocean Respite

Two weeks living on the ocean’s edge, the only constants in my day was the sound of pounding surf and sand on my feet, a morning swim and bike ride to get milk or meet the ferry as more family arrived, filling the wagon with luggage and boxes of food, a walk along the shore, beach volleyball, afternoons riding the waves, beach yoga, shucking corn, beach dance music, eating peaches, beach runs, ice cream, laughing, moonlit swims, and letting the clock hands fade for a brief time-less span. Our only agenda, unwind and restore.

 

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Fire Island is a narrow outer barrier island off Long Island, New York, about 30 miles long. You arrive via a passenger-only ferry and once there live in a car-less world. For me, and my LA kiddos, for all of us really, this departure from highways and traffic is paradise. The whole maze of island towns are connected by walkways which run either down the center or cross from the bay to the ocean. We learned to stroll like natives during our short stay.

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We also learned to bike on the right. To navigate on two wheels the wooden boardwalks of Saltaire and beyond. To watch out for the crossing deer who populate the island. To visit relatives or cruise for ice cream or shop for dinner via a bike. To ride slow enough to notice the birds in the jungle of brush.

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Beach gifts were plenty as was the space to be with each other. A whole world set up for gathering with family. A population on vacation. Stopping at intervals long enough to enjoy the visual beauty. To dig into a point. To remember an anecdote. To relish in the sea breeze and smell the salt. To hear a seagull.

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Our family gatherings seldom have everyone in attendance, but this one came close. Travel by airplane and car, train and ferry, regardless of means we united at the same place for a blink in the sunshine. A collection of strong individuals all bending to fit together under one roof, to share one table, to co-exist guided by love. Not an easy task but a compelling one. In the noisy moments we laughed without question, in the quiet we felt the crazy string that binds us.

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After the storm, the ocean showed her might and held us off. We witnessed the roar and might for a rainy day but before and after the Atlantic lay flat and invited us to float about in the salty calm. The healing waves restored us to who we had forgotten we were and dared us to remember who we might become.

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Sky broad and vast and forever reaching toward the horizon. Gentle pastels or rich vibrancy, the whole bay alive with color. The super-moon shaped the dark sky and lit a silver path. We spent whole days and nights gazing upward and we undid ourselves together.

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Our family time was filled with celebration. Nighttime antics illuminated by jumping for joy. Darkness denied by the lighthouse, our constant guide.

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In the center of our tribe is our matriarch. A powerhouse as she faces each dawn. An inspiration as she allows us to be who we come to be.

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As we disperse back to our separate lives our footprints fade from sight along the fleeting shoreline but remain etched in memory to last the time apart.

 

*Many photographs are mine but for those that aren’t, photo credit goes to numerous family members. You know who you are. Thanks for sharing your beautiful vision, xxoo

Hiatus

Nine Cent Girl is my love and joy, to ponder, to construct, and to write. However, for the next two weeks two other loves will dominate my time. First, writing and editing my novel all morning in my vacation-home-makeshift-office…

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and second, lazing around with my family on the beach all afternoon. Time to ride the waves, collect shells, and listen to the stories.

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Luckily, this August affords us the leisure to walk along the shore, chat about the months apart, and sit long enough to watch the sun set deep into the horizon until we relax fully.

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These last dog days of summer take a hiatus from your day to day grind. Shift gears to low. September will be here soon enough.

 

Hit the Road

Most of the time, okay all of the time, we plot our daily routine with certainty. Same for vacations. Airline tickets are bought in advance, as are hotel stays. We may opt for an odd mid-week dinner out from time to time, but mostly we are bound by schedule and calendar. However, there comes a time in July when the ocean beacons, and as Vermont is land bound, this requires a drive across the Green then White Mountains and through the Maine pines before you see that rocky shoreline. So with the spirit of summer as our guide, we broke all the rules and decided to go on an impromptu weekend excursion.

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Funshine in the Sunshine

Recently I thought about the whole half-full half-empty glass question. In all honesty, I have to admit, I can be a half-empty person. Shocked? Well, that top half, the one that starts at the brim and ends in the middle, that half always looks so enticing. Nothing like a full glass. A first sip brings a smile to anyone’s face. And I’m always eager to get topped off to experience a full glass over and over again. But sometimes in the midst of a whole lot of fun I start worrying about the end. I stop being in the moment and before I know it I am no longer enjoying what is in front of me.

But right then and there in that realization I made a decision to look at my half-empty glass and see it not as empty, not yet, in fact, see there is much left to savor. A half-full glass of anything is still refreshing, so why not love every sip until the last drop? Why let my eyes drift to the bottom? Why worry about an experience being over while still enjoying it?

As we are mid-way through summer, I thought I’d end this pattern by not focusing on the end date, and look at the calendar with possibility. Plenty of mornings to swim. Plenty of dinners to cook outdoors. Plenty of nights to watch for shooting stars. Plenty of cocktails to toast with friends. Plenty of sunshine to fuel our funshine.

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Saturday Play Date

I know what you’re thinking, that frivolous Nine Cent Girl is out having fun again. Well, yes, it’s true. But this is July after all, and if you can’t let yourself enjoy the festivities popping up here and there, well, then you need to heed my do-as-I-do-advice immediately! In reality we are all working long weekday hours, and have countless responsibilities, so enjoying a rare free day is essential for our health and well-being. On this particular Saturday, I left my To-Do-List behind, hopped on my bicycle and rode from one exhilarating event to another strictly for play. My first destination was the Stoweflake Hot Air Balloon Festival.

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Past our Bedtime

meeeeSummer nights are what we in the northern hemisphere live for, well at least this one does. Staying out until last light, waiting for fireflies and stars to transform the landscape, the afternoon heat to cool into sweet night, to live fully through the whole of a day. There are many jokes about the seasons in Vermont and in many respects this one is true: there is July and the other season. But, for now, at the start of this glorious month that allows for morning and night lake swims, fresh strawberries and peas, bike rides through the woods, and time to gather with friends on a hillside to listen to orchestra music, I will celebrate.

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Forget the Rules

I decided to pack what I love. Those are the first words my dear friend spoke when she arrived back in Vermont after spending the winter months in the Sunshine State. She greeted me wearing whiteslogan1 studded jeans, stylish wedge sandals, and an open cardigan that took the breeze with charm. I don’t care what Vermonters wear, she said, I’ve brought clothes that make me feel happy. Then she gave me the once over. You don’t look like Vermont! 100% true in the stereotypical sense. There’s not a Carhartt or LL Bean label in MY wardrobe. Welcome to the new Vermont, I said, where there doesn’t seem to be any fashion rules. I step to one side of ready wear but stay on the edge of costume, teetering on the fringe I feel exactly right, exactly me.

But my friend’s assumptions got me thinking. Where a person shops dictates how they look. If you shop in a box store, you tend to look like everyone else in that box, right? Luckily for me, Vermont is a place where local is plentiful, and this is as true in fashion as it is in our abundant farm to table market. Plenty of East Coast designers are showcased in our boutiques, but even if they aren’t local, they are small companies keeping their pulse on trends and using natural materials with consideration for the natural world. Shopping with this consciousness a woman can feel good creating the look she wants.

On this July day, I decided to visit three favorite, woman-owned boutiques, and see what’s on their shelves for summer. Continue reading