thalassic literature

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If anyone reading my blog ever finds themselves in a situation that requires them to draw, animate, or design a dragon (or other serpentine mythical creature), may I offer up the gently rippling textures of the Pacific ocean and its beaches as scale inspiration? The constant motion of the sand and sea on this stunning day by the water made me feel as though I had entered into the presence of some breathing leviathan, lurking just beneath my feet!

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north berwick beachcombing & bones

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Whenever I spend idle minutes organizing the hierarchy of my “Favorite Places on Earth” list (a frequent habit), the tiny Scottish seaside town of North Berwick always maintains its permanent place in the top three.

A week ago, I returned from a wonderful trip to Edinburgh, a brief six-day venture filled with unprecedentedly perfect weather, moderately tolerable air travel shenanigans, and exceedingly lovely company.  It was such a quick getaway that I sometimes am overcome with the sad sense that it was all a dream–but perhaps sharing some photographic evidence will convince me otherwise!

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monterey, CA

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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!

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Field Notes from Beachcombing

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I come from a family of dedicated, competitive beachcombers.

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!

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Curiouser and Curiouser

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wonders

It’s no secret that I’m fascinated by the history of collecting in the early modern world. Cabinets of curiosities (or wunderkammern) function as both predecessors to the modern “museum” and reflections of the new scientific (and colonial) impulses rampant in Europe at the time–the need to hoard, categorize, and classify, seizing power by keeping a perfectly ordered microcosm within your vaults and chests and shelves.

Though I’m about as far from a sixteenth-century aristocrat as you can get, I share one thing with them: I love collecting curiosities from the natural world. Over time–and thanks to an extensive amount of beachcombing and thrifting–I’ve acquired the start of my own wunderkammer, which I hope will only continue to grow.

One part of my “collection” lives within my vintage child’s writing desk (because, apparently, I’m 8 years old and also from 1950). Displayed on this shelf are glass dragons inherited from my grandparents, specimen jars full of Pacific shells and sea glass, and embarrassingly enough, a map taken from a book that I adored when I was ten years old. It’s very silly, but as a kid, I loved Dragon-ology‘s attempt at recreating the “Victorian explorer” aesthetic–and what could better accompany a collection of treasures?

My other “wonders” are scattered throughout my room–in drawers, on dressers, or gathered up in glass bowls and specimen jars. I dream of the day when I might have a true cabinet in which to keep them: but for now, I’ve constructed a virtual “cabinet” below so you too can behold these marvels of nature!

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