Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Seashore’ Category

Come down to the sea and take your imagination with you.  Never mind the rain and don’t distract yourself with the usual finds of beachcombers:  broken lobster traps, lone sandals, bottles, cans and driftwood.  Sometimes the stormy seas bring something far more wondrous to our shores.

Of course, it’s not every day you get to see a mermaid.  Such enchanting encounters occur so rarely that it’s difficult to know what to do when you do at last catch sight of one on the shore.

You wouldn’t want to get too close.  Only half human, the wild part of their nature would likely make them quite skittish and easy to scare back into the water.  It’s best to keep a safe distance for both your sakes.  After all, mermaids have been known to lure humans unwittingly into the depths of the sea, never to return again.  Even Blackbeard the pirate feared their charms and kept his ship away from waters where they had been sighted.

Mermaids likely visited Nova Scotia’s shores long before Europeans settled here.  Thrown off course by strong currents during storms, there’s little record of their short stays on our beaches.

They linger only long enough to re-arrange their hair, untangle the seaweed from their tails and sing a haunting song or two before returning to their homes in the deep.

Though this one’s fingers weren’t webbed and she wasn’t sitting on ‘the mermaid stone’ (perhaps the algae made it too slippery this time of year), she was genuinely enchanting.

When will she return?  Mermaid visits are as unpredictable as the weather here in Nova Scotia.  One can only hope it will be soon.

Text and photographs copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2012

For more on mermaids, see Where Mermaids Arrange their Hair and Calling All Mermaids.

 

Read Full Post »

When you walk in the woods, do you see the forest or the trees?  Do your eyes come to rest on the bark of the closest  trunk or is your vision focused on the woods behind it?

Similarly, when you’re walking on the beach, are your eyes scanning the shore for a special shell,  a heart shaped stone or a bottle with a message in it, or are you gazing at the horizon line?

It’s easier to focus on the trees nearby if the path ahead is tangled with vegetation.  The possibility of ticks in the grass or mosquitoes lurking in the deeper woods may prompt you to take a closer look at the soft new growth on the branches  within your grasp.

If the path ahead appears clear and bright, you may be more inclined to venture into the forest.

At home or at work, I often find myself caught up in the details in my surroundings.  My eyes dart quickly back and forth looking to re-arrange or make right whatever seems out of place.  However, when daily life sometimes becomes cluttered, as the beach is with seaweed after a storm…

I lift up my eyes to focus on what’s ahead.  (One of these days I’m sure I’m going to see a mermaid sitting on top of that big stone).

Our ability to shift our focus is a gift that allows us to be happy in any circumstance.  All that’s required from us is a willingness to refocus our attention, perhaps for just a moment, before getting back to the task at hand.

Text and photographs copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2012

Read Full Post »

The mermaid stone hasn’t seen much action these days.  With surfers riding the waves in recent years and more dogs running along the beaches, it’s no wonder that mermaids are going elsewhere to gather their thoughts at dawn and dusk.

 I, for one, would love to catch a glimpse of a siren arranging her hair while singing a haunting melody.  Even one of the mermaids’ legged cousins, the sea nymphs, would be a delight to find strolling along our shores, gathering shells.

mermaid stone
Sadly, rockweed is all that’s covering the mermaid stone these days.

 Maybe it’s all the garbage that’s dumped near our shores that’s putting them off.  Or perhaps they don’t bother visiting Cow Bay because there are fewer and fewer shells to find here.  The ones that do wash up on our beaches are quickly gathered by tourists and local beachcombers like me.

Sea Nymph by William Symonds

Sea Nymph by William Symonds 1893

 We don’t pause to consider that seashells and sea glass are the only adornments mermaids and sea nymphs have available to them when the seaside flowers aren’t in bloom. 

There are probably uninhabited islands not far from here where mermaids don’t have to compete with anyone for the treasures that wash ashore.  Seals are likely less intimidating than dogs from their point of view as well. 

I’m going to start leaving the seashells where I find them on the shore instead of taking them home.   If I take anything back from the beach, it will be the garbage I find there.  It’s not much, but it’s a first step in attracting these wondrous creatures back to our shores. 

I must be a mermaid… I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.
― Anaïs Nin (1903-1977)

Read Full Post »

Waves can pull you in without getting you wet. One moment you’re looking at them from your vantage point on the shore and the next you’re tangled in their frothy curls.

With mist on your face and the roar of the sea numbing your ear drums, you’re soon set adrift.  As each wave rolls forward, you’re taken under into the mysterious deep.  Long forgotten memories are churned up and float on the surface like sea foam.  

Let your heart look on white sea spray
And be lonely…
~ Carl Sandburg


It’s a wonder how some of Nature’s most sensory experiences can take you so far away from the present moment.  You might recall long forgotten days at the beach, swimming or surfing.  Or your thoughts might drift farther away from the shore, re-examining what was and what might have been at any point along life’s journey. You might even surprise yourself by applying new solutions to old problems.

…  a mind forever voyaging through strange seas of thought… alone.
~ William Wordsworth

You needn’t go far or stay away long.  And herein lies the greatest gift the sea can offer.  Wherever you go when you look at the sea, as with all the best voyages, you’re always more in tune with yourself upon your return.  

Read Full Post »

A light dusting of snow sparkles on the boardwalk leading to the seashore. There are no tracks yet. It’s still early.

But despite clear blue skies, it’s no day to be at the beach. A cold December wind has blown in. Is winter finally here?  Christmas is just around the corner.  Perhaps the beach walkers are shopping in the malls these days instead of strolling along the shoreline.

Spray is blowing from the crests of waves at sea.  These spindrifts are considered by mariners to be  indicators of gale force winds.  Just looking at them is enough to make you shiver.

Later in the season, spindrifts of sand and snow will blow from the crests of dunes on the beach.  We’ll slowly drift into winter one snowflake at a time until our snowshovels runneth over. 

If only we could approach the holidays as we approach the seasons: slowly, one sparkle at a time… with no rushing and no deadlines, enjoying each moment and peacefully trusting that everything will come together eventually.

I sometimes think we expect too much of Christmas Day. We try to crowd into it the long arrears of kindliness and humanity of the whole year. As for me, I like to take my Christmas a little at a time, all through the year. And thus I drift along into the holidays–let them overtake me unexpectedly–waking up some fine morning and suddenly saying to myself: ‘Why this is Christmas Day!’

~  Ray Stannard Baker

Read Full Post »

As much as we enjoy wildlife, it’s seldom that we have an opportunity to hold live specimens in our hands.  Most wild creatures want to put as much distance between us and them as possible, and that’s how it should be.   However, opportunities to get up close and personal with wildlife are possible along Nova Scotia’s seashore in the intertidal zone.  Marine animals such as crabs and starfish are easily caught and respond well to gentle handling.

The starfish at left was found in the salt marsh.  Its underside reveals gel-like feelers that glisten in the sunlight as they move.  Live, juicy starfish are enjoyed by seagulls who can spot them underwater clinging to rocks.

Though a bit more difficult to catch, live crabs are very animated and deeper in color than the dried ones found higher up the beach.  Up close they look like little aliens.  They too are eaten by seagulls.

To those who are willing to get really up close, offshore waters offer even more wonders.

Live sand dollars are nothing like the bone dry tests we may sometimes find on the beach.  Their five point star design is just barely discernible beneath their deep purple fur-like covering of cilia.  Beds of these can be found by scuba divers in the subtidal zone, a wonder hidden from the view of beachcombers.  Sand dollars are preyed upon by starfish, snails and skates.

After handling these delicate marine creatures, it’s best to quickly place them back where they were found as they are unable to survive out of the water for long.  Such close encounters should be kept as brief as possible, unless of course you’re a seagull looking for a meal.

I’m hungry Dolores. Should we get fast food or see what’s slow in the marsh?

Photo credits:  Julie Perry

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: