I have been to the beach numerous times. I have been to the beach so many times I’m not even sure I could count that high. And the beach is my son’s favorite place to be, so we are there all the time – winter, spring, summer and fall. It doesn’t matter how cold it is, he is content to sit on the sand with his bucket and shovel and dig. I have been to the beach so many times, I could navigate my way around easily enough if someone blindfolded me. But just because I have been there probably every summer since I was five doesn’t mean that I have looked and observed and truly seen everything around me. Did you know that the water never strikes the bulkhead the same way twice? Did you ever watch how gracefully droplets leap into the air and then dive back down into the bay? Have you ever noticed the haphazard way that shells are strewn across the sand and the secret messages they seem to spell out? Have you ever watched the way water and light dance delicately over the body of a shell that is only partially submerged? Have you observed the way colors change subtly on both rocks and shells depending on your perspective, the play of the water and the warm rays of the sun? Did you ever stop to count the holes carved into the body of a shell after a life of being tossed and turned in the surf? Have you ever observed that the beauty of a shell long out lives the animal that once lived inside of it? At the beach, death and beauty continuously coexist.
It has taken me awhile to mourn the loss of snow and ice and be able to move on to something else. I found that something else last week at the beach with my son. While he was busy digging holes, building sandcastles and threatening to go swimming in the cold water, I set out to search for the little things – objects I have missed so many times in the past. I stood in the water with my camera poised on rocks, shells and seaweed while my son questioned, “Mama, what are you taking a picture of. I don’t see anything.” What he meant was, “I don’t see anything interesting.” But what makes something interesting? In our busy lives, what makes us pause, take a deep breath and say you are worthy of my time? What catches our eyes and forces us to focus? What trips up our hurried pace and commands us to slow down? How can we live in the moment, if we refuse to slow down and find beauty not only in the grand things, but in the small things that have become so ordinary we sometimes even forget that they are even there? With my camera in hand, I opened my eyes and this is what I found: