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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scenes from a sail

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As someone who cultivates an association with the ocean throughout all she does, I must confess that I can count the number of times I’ve actually traversed the sea on one hand. Unlike the protagonists of The Wind in the Willows, I lack much experience with “messing about in boats.”

You can imagine, then, what a deeply moving and exhilarating experience I enjoyed on this recent sailing adventure during my trip home! Flat water, clear skies, and a few humpback whales passing through (captured in all their glory thanks to my zoom lens!) made for a most enchanting morning.

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2018 in wandering

 

On the one hand, 2018 might have qualified as the most adventure-packed year of my life. As my husband (then-fiancé!) and I finished up our last few months of long-distance love, I visited the United Kingdom twice in six months – a new record for me! We enjoyed a brief period of quiet time in our new home after that final visit resulted in the happily-ever-after of a granted visa: and then the rest of the summer concluded with a trip to my home, our wedding, and a mini-honeymoon.

I always enjoy looking back over my various voyagings in a given year, so I hope you will indulge me as I post my virtual travelogue nearly a week into 2019!

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Summer in Salem

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Every time I leave my forested home in favor of the coast, I imagine what it would be like to move there permanently. Nothing appeals to me more than the idea of spending every day by the ocean – or at least being within a short drive of the seaside. As a consequence of such visits, I also find myself rekindling my fascination with maritime art: spending weeks afterwards brushing up on New England’s seafaring history!

Though it’s been almost six months since my husband and I went to Salem for a mini-honeymoon, I’m glad that my academic circumstances prevented me from posting these photographs until now. Those wildly hot August days meandering past the Atlantic seem even more appealing in January!

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journey through the mists

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Given that this post’s title can be considered an homage to the superior fourth installment in the Land Before Time saga of my youth, I’m naturally overwhelmed by the timeless qualities of these rain-soaked forest landscapes. With that broad, bold Monstera leaf big enough to shelter a small child from the elements (holes notwithstanding!), the towering banyan trees, and the glistening plateaus of thick uluhe fern clusters, the plant life surrounding this waterfall trek seems magically monumental in scale.

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aque[duck]ts

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The last time I visited Wales, crossing the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct seemed an impossible venture – ice, cold, and wind might have complicated such a quest. I’m glad we didn’t even try, because the summer experience proved absolutely idyllic!

Clad in my standard uniform for British adventures – a Sophie Hatter-esque dotted blue dress and an enormous, SPF-strong sun hat – I stepped into the sky with a canal at my side!

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The aqueduct (a World Heritage site!) naturally appealed to my romantic sensibilities. That’s funny, considering that it constitutes an engineering highlight of the Industrial Revolution – probably the opposite of what would satisfy most actual Romantics – but in the twenty-first century, it possesses a distant historical aura that I adored. Imagine an alternate world in which such airborne canals became commonplace, and man-made rivers stretched like highways throughout all of New England!

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A flock of ducklings and their watchful mother crossed our paths near the edge of the canal. Make way!

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Of course, I most enjoyed the marbled, glimmering glimpses of the sky and trees in the water! On our way back, a few tourist-bearing canalboats sliced through the reflections, creating an even more dizzying pattern of colorful ripples. Now that I’m back in Massachusetts, I can’t help peeking into creeks with some disappointment…

back to north berwick

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When I lived in Edinburgh for a semester – five years ago, if you can believe that! – I arrived in the bleak midwinter and departed at the very end of May. Such a schedule prevented me from experiencing the Scottish summer: a simultaneously blustery and sunkissed time, when the evenings stay illuminated until long into the night.

As I planned my research trip, I knew that finding accommodations in Edinburgh itself would probably deplete my fellowship money all at once. In an attempt to be frugal, then, I decided to find lodging in my beloved North Berwick instead, commuting into the city each day via train to keep my appointments at various galleries and archives.

Saving money and staying by the seaside? I couldn’t be happier!

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Given the nature of my trip – intended as an investigative art historical learning opportunity, not a vacation! – my days proved both productive and exhausting. On a Friday, I had appointments at two branches of the National Gallery that happened to be located a good distance away from each other. My wrist-worn personal fitness robot informed me that I’d walked over 20,000 steps in the process! I’d return to North Berwick feeling as content in my new knowledge of fairy paintings as I was exhausted, and a leisurely evening stroll by the sea restored my energy.

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If you want to avoid the Edinburgh crowds by staying in North Berwick, I’d offer the following words of advice:

  • Buy off-peak day return tickets for the train if you can – you save so many pounds, and the “peak time” window during which you are not allowed to travel is surprisingly short. Ask a conductor or staff member on your train to confirm!
  • If you’re leaving on a Sunday, hire a taxi or car transfer to get you to the airport or the train station, because train schedules are reduced on that particular day.
  • The gelato place near the main street of town is open until 10 PM in the summer. Just saying!

(P.S. Remember the last time I visited North Berwick?)