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.
Sometimes you just need to escape to Long Island Sound for a day and spend some quality time hanging out with eels and jellies and delicate pipefish and sea dragons, you know?
My “year of aquariums” (I’ve visited four so far!) continued this weekend with a trip to an institution in Connecticut that claims the title of the “best aquarium in New England”–and as I happen to have visited all the other aquariums in New England, I tend to agree. I appreciated the focus on the local ecosystems of Connecticut waters and the opportunity to take my best photograph of a moray eel yet! (You’ll have to click through to see him in all his glory: though if elongated, toothy fish don’t charm you as much as they do me, perhaps you should sit this one out…)
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!)
Yesterday, Western Massachusetts suffered a messy and miserable mix of sleet and snow and hail: so please believe that I’m taking any opportunity to send my mind back to California!
Of course, we couldn’t stop in the Monterey area without winding our way along the scenic Seventeen-Mile Drive in Pebble Beach. The afternoon began misty and grey (why is that so much more beautiful by the sea than among the gloomy bare trees of New England winters?) and blossomed into another glowing sunset.
And although I can’t teleport myself back to the other side of the country, at least you can follow me on a multi-mile journey around a meandering coastal road!
On days such as this, I’m all the more eager to continue my plan of absconding to Atlantis, living beneath the waves in an isolated society of my own design.
A lost oceanic city may not be real (yet!), but there’s always Monterey Bay Aquarium, my personal “happiest place on Earth!” I could have stared into those seemingly endless open-ocean tanks forever, gazing at the soft spiraling arms of kelp until I was lulled into a meditative state to match the New Age music that constantly plays in these watery halls.
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!
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!