Low Tide Magic

It’s that time of year in southern California. Extra high tides (the so-called king tides) alternate with spectacularly low tides (anarchist tides?), revealing tide pools teeming with fabulous occupants. I’ve never seen starfish out in the world, before!

The colors. The patterns. Everywhere.

A person can stare a long time waiting to see one of these gals move. Here’s evidence that movement recently occurred!:

These mussels have worked around a band of white plastic:

Amazing to see anemones with soft sticky outsides that are sludge-free. (Perhaps these critters live in deeper water than the sludged ones?) (I’m making that up.):

Anybody know what these translucent donut creatures are called?

I was not alone enjoying the tide pools:

I could be friends with that one in the middle.

Look, a tar bat!

These craters formed when water dropped from the rock above:

Moments Now vs. Moments Later

I know I’m not alone with this dilemma: the more photographs I take, the harder it is to enjoy the moment. That camera-phone stuck to my face – that oh! good shot! scrutiny – blocks my senses.

But if I’ve got photographs, I can re-live (a weak yet satisfying imitation of) that moment. Without photographs, all I’d remember would be the beach with the pier is nice at sunset:

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By the time I uploaded my photos, I’d forgotten how the surf distorted the pier’s reflection:

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Nowadays, I’m really trying to live in the moment, so as I continued my walk, I pocketed my phone. Then unpocketed it. Many times.

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Capturing a pelican on camera marks a different kind of living in the moment:

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One of the great things about the beach is how quickly everything changes. Every moment really does last a moment. Here’s what happened to the sunset when the fog got just a bit thicker:

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One solution to photographing my moments away might be to keep going back to the beach. I don’t need photo memories of stuff I do and see all the time – do I? Hmm. My photo library draws a different conclusion:

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My cats and my granddaughter. I’m lucky enough to see both all the time. Yet the photo library keeps growing in both categories… Thank goodness for the digital photo era.

(The WP Weekly Photo Challenge was Broken.)

Jewels of the Sea

Don’t tell my daughter about these photos. Every time I go to my favorite beach in Santa Barbara, I take pictures. She thinks I should stop. She’s right, I do have uncountably vast numbers of photos of the same half mile stretch. But nothing is static there, not even the eroding sea wall I’ve shot a bizillion times.  On this trip, I discovered a piece of kelp tangled on the wall:
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Things got interesting when I moved to the other side of the wall. Sunlight shining through and around the sea vegetable converted it to a fairy tale:

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Now I saw a cascade of jewels, or maybe a despondent princess, silhouetted in the window of a castle tower.

I know a scientist who makes music on the side. He has a single CD that he keeps reissuing with new and revised songs. I’ve teased him about this but I’m doing a version of the same thing, aren’t I? A single beach, reissues of new and revised views.

My daughter is wise, but I will continue to defy her. Sure I’ve got lots of images with this sea wall – but with every visit it’s a new wall. Certainly, there’s never been a princess there before!

Anyway, it’s not like I’m wasting film. Which makes me uncomfortable, realizing that younger readers may not know what film is.

 

(The Weekly Photo Challenge topic is Refraction.)

A Sign It Didn’t Go Well

By the time I got to the beach, the flowers had already started to shed petals into the sea. I don’t know what went down before I arrived, but a lovely bouquet in the surf can’t be a good sign.

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Too bold on the first date?

Thanks for the birthday flowers, shame my birthday was last week?

Flowers can’t buy forgiveness, you @#$%^?

Graduation celebration run amuck?

Miss Runner-Up?

Or… ?

What do you think happened?

 

(The WP Weekly Photo Challenge is Signs.)

Signs Not in Sync

How do I smell the ocean when vehicles drive along the sand? These signs need to talk more. (Admittedly, they are on opposite edges of the United States, but that is a technical detail.)

While we are on the subject, maybe it’s just me – and my sheltered Californian upbringing – but…

Dear Florida, it seems so very wrong to drive on a beach.

 

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(left sign: Oxnard, CA; right sign: New Smyrna Beach, Florida)

(The WP Weekly Photo Challenge is to establish a dialogue between two photos.)

Shadow Worlds

Which came first, the idea or my belief in it? I’m not sure. I am deep into writing of the second novel in the FRAMES series, in which seemingly inanimate objects like books and buildings are sentient beings. And – guess what? Everywhere I look I see objects that appear to be more than objects.

Is this a new perspective? Or did I always see things this way but have no reason to think twice about it? Certainly, I’ve always been fascinated by shadows and reflections and silhouettes – their ability to reproduce while distorting, maintaining the familiar within the strange.

Case in point. Below is a staircase banister at the Egyptian Theater, a deco movie palace in Hollywood, CA. In silhouette, the banister’s reptilian underpinnings become apparent. I see a head in profile, facing right. The iris bisects an eye that narrows to a point, into an elongated snout that slopes down and to the right, out of frame…

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You see that too, right?

Right?

How about this one? The ocean has carved creatures in this eroded beach wall. You see this furry guy with the long nose, right?:

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In this post-apocalyptic sunset, the creatures line up looking frail:

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You see them, right?

This WP Weekly Photo Challenge was Silhouettes.

Cadaverous Cliff Face(s)

I can’t decide what I think about these images in a cliff face. Look at these photos and help me decide…

Walking along your favorite beach, you pause and think, "Gee, almost looks like there are faces in that cliff. Never noticed them before."

Walking along your favorite beach, you pause and think, “Gee, almost looks like there are faces in that cliff. Never noticed them before.”

You step closer and confirm. Yup. Faces.

You step closer and confirm. Yup. Faces.

Or skulls. Eek.

Or maybe skulls. Eek.

What does this tell you about how the faces formed? Is this rock emerging after erosion? Or did Mom call Junior to come along, before he finished digging this one out?

What about this hole with a rock in it? Does this tell you how the faces formed? Is this rock emerging after erosion? Or did Mom call Junior to come along, before he finished digging out one last face?

1) Are these accidents of erosion that coincidentally look like faces? Or did some beachgoer dig out rocks in an act of 3D graffiti?… or ….

2) Or — do these suggest creatures escaping from the rock? Or have I been spending too much time in the universe of my new book series, FRAMES?

3) Are these faces cool, or creepy, or c), both of the above?

 

The WP Weekly Photo Challenge topic? Containers

A Vertical Tide Pool

Let’s face it, erosion is inevitable. In the pictures below, what you will see was once a sea wall, that is, a futile attempt to keep sand where we humans think it should stay. The ocean moved the sand, as it always does; and the ocean removed pieces of the wall, one chemically weathered molecule at a time. The result is a relic that charges my imagination every time I visit its beach, in Santa Barbara, California.

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This former seawall now evokes a line of creatures.

 

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The creatures have tide pools growing up their sides!

 

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I’m guessing that the tidepool growth protects the remaining wall from more erosion.

 

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Detail of a creature’s “leg”.

 

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At the feet, anemones are open for business.

 

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The dense organization of shells makes complex designs in the creature’s hide!

 

The original image.

Sunset instills its own magic on the scene.

The WP Weekly Photo Challenge topic was “Relic”.

An Adoration of Pelicans

A gaggle of geese. A leap of leopards. A covey of quail. My vet has a poster with line after line of phrases that describe collections of critters, in ever-odder terms. A dule of doves. A charm of finches. A deceit of lapwings. An unkindness of ravens. Perhaps my favorite is a siege of herons. (Surely the crawfish in a local pond see herons that way, even though there is only one heron that plagues them. No, wait, plague would be locusts.) Have all these phrases truly been used? Maybe not – but for a richer language, let’s start today! (To get us started, I include more of the phrases at the bottom of this post.)

If I were to add pelicans to the list of phrases, I would have to call them an adoration of pelicans. What a spectacular creature the pelican is. Sitting around a dock, it may look homely and awkward, but airborne, it rules the coast. Pelicans fly together in innovative formations, skim the waves fearlessly, dive with conviction – and always get their fish.

I’ve taken many pictures of pelicans. In most of them, the bird appears as a speck on my camera lens. Last weekend, two pelicans put on an amazing show as I walked the beach. For the first time, I saw two pelicans dive simultaneously and hit the water a few feet apart. But they were coy and whenever I raised my phone camera, they masqueraded as specks. This was the closest I got to a good picture, so you can imagine the others:

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But I’ve had better luck in the past. Here are some pelicans enjoying sunrise on both coasts of the U.S.:

Pelican at sunrise, East River, NYC.

Pelican at sunrise, East River, NYC.

Pelicans at sunrise, Carlsbad Beach, San Diego County, CA

Pelicans at sunrise, Carlsbad Beach, San Diego County, CA

And here is a particularly fine squadron, which always reminds me of that Far Side cartoon. You know the one, right? Birds of prey know they’re cool.

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My best capture to date was this … er ….

HOLY FRIGGING — I’ve just spent what feels like a year scrolling through endless directories of unsorted photo files, in an unsuccessful search for one of my favorite shots. Ho-kay. Check back to this post later, I will add the photo when/if I find it. Perhaps it is finally time to attempt to organize my photos.

And in the meantime, enjoy some more critter phrases:

A crash of rhinoceroses.
A gang of elk.
A singular of boars.
A cast of woodpeckers.
A barren of moles.
A shrewdness of apes.
A smack of jellyfish.
A parliament of owls.

(This post is slightly in response to the recent WP photo challenge, “Split-Second Story”.)

Among Many, A Search for One

The Gulf Coast of Florida (and surely, many other locations) has beaches where fossil shark teeth are abundant. My young nephews collect pails full of them! (That is my idea of a fun vacation: planted at the ocean, sifting shells and sand to hunt treasures.) On a brief recent visit to a beach near Venice, Florida, I spent about an hour on one of those beaches and made some amazing finds!

There, see all those fossil teeth?

There, see all those fossil teeth?

Actually, you need to look more closely. Be prepared to be distracted by all the amazing shell fragments!

Actually, you need to look more closely. Be prepared to be distracted by all the amazing shell fragments!

Sometimes a tooth sits on the surface in an obvious manner but usually you will need to sift the shells, a handful at a time.

Sometimes a tooth sits on the surface in an obvious manner but usually you will need to sift the shells, a handful at a time.

The results of my hour of searching, discovered one tooth at a time.

The results of my hour of searching, discovered one tooth at a time.

The WP Weekly Photo Challenge is to show “one”.