There was more small driftwood on our beach this month than I remember seeing in a long, long time.
A gazillion tiny canvases waiting for tiny paintings.
At least that's how I see driftwood.
Every day the tide would cover it up with sand
or wash more sand away,
move it around a bit...
but it was always there.
Waiting for little crows
or a tiny version
of the drawing in my sketchbook
that Ted had so kindly posed for.
And there was one piece that just happened to be the perfect size and shape for a portrait of Edgar the white-winged crow from a book I thoroughly enjoyed pouring completely through my first couple days out there in the quiet...
...just what I needed to thank my amazing neighbor for taking such great care of my garden while we were away.
As promised, here are some highlights of my afternoon wandering the Brooklyn Botanic Garden:
The bees that live there are the fattest, drunkest, slowest and happiest I think I've ever encountered.
The wisteria was lovely but what fascinated me most was the size of the trunks. I don't normally think of flowering shrubs as being a witness to history like these apparently are. The stories they could tell...
A tad early in the season to experience the full-bloom splendor of the rose garden, I was more focused on the patina and patterns of the structures.
(there's someone's peaceful little home up in there)
Don't you just love this time of year? What goodies are in bloom right now where you live?
It's got thorns. Big, hard thorns. 1 to 3 inch killers on the trunk and up and down all the branches, with smaller, more rose-like ones on new growth. I have to patrol the yard almost daily for little sticks that might have fallen off so Molly won't cut her toes walking through the grass, or even worse, I don't hit one of those sticks with the lawn mower shooting little shards of pain all over the yard. Just picking up the little sticks I'll usually puncture myself at least once.
A nasty, prickly tree.
I had lived here about a year when a neighbor dog chased my little Coset up into it. She had been an apartment cat before we moved here and had never been in a tree, although it might have been more traumatic for me than it was her. She came away unscathed but I was a bloody mess from head to toe with ripped up clothes by the time I got her down, and contrary to what others who knew (and feared) Coset might think, only 1 or 2 of those bloody wounds were actually cat scratches. I've managed to avoid climbing it since then.
Everywhere you nick the root, a new tree grows. All you can really do is just keep them sawed down to ground level; if you attempt to dig them up, more trees will pop up all around the area you dug.
All spring and summer it spits a sticky sap onto the entire yard and nearby parked cars.
Supposedly the leaves and bark are terribly poisonous, but it's full of nests: squirrels and songbirds find it a lovely place to raise their families; its branches are an annual baby crow day-nursery, and a favorite feasting spot for northern flickers, downy woodpeckers, hummingbirds, and butterflies.
And when June comes around, this happens:
You notice a heavy perfume hanging thick like a fog on the afternoon air. Sweet and intoxicating, you can't quite place the scent. You peek around for blooming lilies, jasmine - anything but this big dumb tree of pain.
But then you look up, and finally notice that the entire tree is heavily draped in clouds of creamy white. You take a deep breath, and are completely mesmirised with what this monster has created.
I wish I could share this with you using Smell-o-Vision right now.
One black locust branch, a couple sprigs of bright, sweet mock-orange, and my studio smells heavenly.
It doesn't last long. A cut sprig or branch brought into the house won't smell at all by the second day. On the tree, it lasts a week if we're lucky and it doesn't rain.
All in all it's a nice reminder, I suppose, and a lesson I could stand to learn: even the most prickly, unlovable, and seemingly useless among us might be important to someone else, and maybe, just maybe - they have a quality so incredibly sweet that I would forget everything else I knew or thought about them for at least a day.
Dog walks every morning and afternoon are an every-day attitude adjustment around here, but on the beach, forgetaboutit. It turns into an ear-to-ear grinning until my cheeks hurt thing.
At the beach, little things become fun events.
Some birds. A boat. A pattern.
The perfect latte in the morning is enough to bring a smile to my famously-grouchy-morning-lips (yes, we actually pack up the Breville and take it to the cabin) but it's even more fun when I pull a random mug from the cupboard and realize it's designed by my talented friend BJ Lantz! Her cute beach design made me smile every morning (those who know me well will attest, this is a tall order).
And finally, 2 weeks of perfect sunsets, how can that not make someone smile?
Sometimes you just need a day at the beach. Sometimes you need to stand and stare into the surf. Just stand in one place while the waves wash over your feet. Like this guy. Sometimes you need to watch the birds and search for treasures in the sand. Like this guy. Or have fun finding tracks in the sand like this raccoon's or this deer's or even the little tracks left by grass in the breeze.
Sometimes you need to fantasize that there's no one around and you could just live in a fort. Sometimes you just need a day at the beach.
Looking for some outdoorsy lodgey fabric in bright, fun colors? Well, your local Joann store has just the thing: the new Artstuff Ltd. "Lodge" designs: 4 patterns planted firmly on the playful, whimsical side of mountain. You know, where the sun is always shining.
My friends at Robert Kaufman did a great job with these! I especially had fun designing the map. It's a lighter, brighter take on my Trail Map scrapbooking paper in my Great Outdoors collection by Momenta. I had so much fun imagining the places, drawing the details, and figuring out how to make it all fit together. I wouldn't mind hanging out in this little cabin about now. What? Too close to the bear caves? Don't worry, they're nice bears. I made them.
Anyway, here's how to find them: And as always, please show me what you make with my designs, I absolutely love that part!
Just for fun, a few more bits of eye candy from the beach a couple months ago...
As a kid I was fascinated by monster-sized bull kelp. I guess I still am. Extreme tides exposed all sorts of treasures, mostly tied into knots by the waves. One super-low tide exposed a magical sugar-frosted wonderland, it just sparkled in the evening sun.
All week the beach was full of birds. Several hundred at a time would fly past in a cacophonous swarm and settle in on the sandbar, at the surf line, to stand there. Sometimes they would float on the surf but mostly, just stand there. Facing the surf. Molly tried this too, she found the standing still part quite Zen. They were there in the fog and mist and (the few times it made an appearance) in the sun. Crows joined them in the mornings and sandpipers would take over in the evenings. Extremely high and low tides all week seemed to be bringing in a feast on the surf and a feast below the sand. All day, they'd just stand there until the sun set then little by little they would lift off and fly away until the sun returned.
One of the little guys I made while playing with my Paperclay is now doing the same thing from the cabin window ... just staring into the surf all day long. Like the real gulls, he seems quite content to do so.
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Please don't use or reproduce anything you find here without permission.