I journeyed through my childhood and youth as an eager believer, resolute in my conviction that the sort of magic I encountered in any number of obscure juvenile fantasy novels would manifest in my ordinary life one day.
Now, I wouldn’t say that a glimmering portal to another realm awaited me on Mt. Pollux one iridescent October morning – but three weeks ago, I came as close to real-life enchantment as a decidedly, disappointingly non-magical girl could hope.
It’s been a good long while since I just did a casual “little photos of strange magical things I discover on my walks” post, hasn’t it?
Winter decided to show all of its faces during one brief February fortnight. Over the past two weeks, I’ve seen blizzards, endless Himalayan peaks of excavated snow, veils of ice spiderwebbed across every available surface, and gloriously creamy blue skies floating above frosted branches.
(I’ve also seen the beautiful light effects that occur when you place a pink carnation on the melting snow on a surprisingly warm afternoon!)
So–in more ways than one, I’m back! I’ve returned to the East Coast, for one, but I’m also returning to my blog after a difficult few weeks (it felt good to take a break, honestly). I was so excited to share some gorgeous Northern California seascapes that it’s no surprise I’ve popped back into the blogging life sooner rather than later.
Monterey remains one of the most chillingly stunning places I’ve ever visited. Traveling there felt more like going home than getting off the plane in Massachusetts did! Riding down those endless seaside drives with an eye to the cold surf-break, peeking at otters and pinnipeds of all varieties, pulling my hat securely around my ears as I investigated the shells, crabs, and shipwrecked kelp that cover the rocky shores…it’s the wild ocean, the Romantic “sublime,” as I never imagined it before. Somebody call the Hudson River School!
I come from a family of dedicated, competitive beachcombers. We’ve established a daily morning beach ritual during our trips to Kona, and have also encountered sea glass and shells on both U.S. coasts.
There’s not much in the way of wisdom that I can impart to aspiring beachcombers, since it’s a very personal, simple activity: all you need is a shoreline and the willingness to look closely. So take the notes that follow with a grain of salt (or, perhaps, sand) and go out there yourself, if you can! You never know what you might discover!
…were the opening lyrics to a little ditty my sister and I used to sing as children (vaguely to the tune of “Big Rock Candy Mountain,” but it was mostly an original composition). Of course, we were mostly kidding: we knew that of course, it had to rain in Kona sometimes: in comparison to our home in the Volcano rainforest, though, it seemed like Kona was about as close to a beach paradise/desert as you could get in Hawai’i.
It’s true that I’ve rarely seen Kona on a stormy afternoon, and as we kicked off our most recent trip with a bout of pouring rain, I now have a better sense of how our dry opposite coast transforms with a bit of cloud cover. It means waiting a day for the azure waters and sunny sands that usually signify a Kona beach expedition, but I think it has an overcast beauty to it–don’t you?
Given my disturbingly cheerful bubblegum-mermaid persona, the fact that I’m fond of respectfully exploring centuries-old cemeteries might seem a bit paradoxical. I am a historian, though, and the memorials people leave behind are a wonderful window into the past. As a writer, too, I also enjoy paying my respects to the great writers and artists from whom I am separated by decades or more: especially my favorite reclusive poet and “neighbor,” Emily Dickinson.
Because my blog is apparently hosting a kind of impromptu “I Love Dickinson!” week, here’s a virtual stroll through some quieter, more secret parts of Amherst, gravesites and otherwise: all with a vaguely literary bent!
Autumn days go hand-in-hand with walks on the network of old railways and bike paths that weave through my valley. It’s a little too early for true fall colors yet–though I’m sure the “leaf peeper” tourists are already beginning to pack their sweaters and plan tree-spotting road trips–and so I’m focusing my photographic attentions on the few weeds & wildflowers that remain in bloom even in September.
Flowers are synonymous with grace and ephemeral beauty, but a close observer will notice that their familiar forms can look truly alien with the help of a zoom lens. (The prickly thistles featured above, for example, really appeared otherworldly to me!) Luckily my camera and my trusty rocketship dress prepare me for any sort of close encounters…