“Do I love you? My God, if your love were a grain of sand, mine would be a universe of beaches.” -from “The Princess Bride” – Wesley to Buttercup
I simply love being at the beach. Sometimes I wonder why or how I can love it so much, but then maybe the key to it is in the b-e-i-n-g. The beach is the perfect place to just BE. My ideal world is a universe of beaches.
Last week, my family and I returned to Prague from a couple weeks in the US, and ended our US time with a week on the Gulf coast of Florida. The beach there was dreamy — clear water, sugar sand, full sun, and calm waves. We were lucky, though. The week before we arrived, a Tropical Storm dumped rain on the Tampa / Clearwater area.
There is something about the luxury of having days in a row ordered not by the hour on a clock, but by the tides. About the sand wearing off rough spots on the feet and in the mind. About the days ending with the great sun bobbing into the sea, while dolphin play games just an arms length away, so close they could be touched. The beach is made of magic.
Here, some photos of my favorite things about the beach:
There is no more vivid painting in the world than each moment at the beach leading up to the sunset. The colors heat up from midday’s pale blues to the flaming blood reds and oranges as the sun melts into the sea. Heart-stopping, every time.Read More»
Come walk with me
Along the sea
Where dusk sits on the land
And search with me
For shells are free,
And treasures hide in sand. -Author Unknown
This week, I’m vacationing with my family at the beach … one of my very favorite places and things to do in all the world. I love spending timeless days along the seashore with my loved ones, collecting shells and walking the powdery sand.
Have a wonderful week and time leading up to Independence Day! And enjoy your time with your family and friends.
Photography is the art of writing with light. -Gerardo Suter
I love visiting the ocean, and having time on the beach. To me, there is something about the rhythmic crashing of waves, the wide feeling of timelessness, and the gentle scrubbing of the saltwater and sugary sand to wipe away all of the world’s cares. I love being at the beach.
When I brought my first camera to the beach, I made the classic mistake time and time again. And I was always disappointed with my photographs. The colors always appeared washed out, my subjects were always squinting, and the objects I was trying to capture for remembrance always turned out pale. One morning, when I was up with the sun, I watched the woman staying next door to us, out with her impressive camera. After she was done taking photographs, she chatted with me for a moment, and made a comment I’ll never forget. “At the beach, don’t even bother to take photos when the sun is high. Only shoot at sunrise or sunset.”
Since then, I have found her words to be true, for more than just taking photos at the beach. Because when the lighting is low, the colors are rich, and the photographs become magical.
When I had a backyard garden in the United States with many roses, my favorite time to be in the garden was at dawn, with my camera in hand, as the light turned the dew into diamonds, and the roses and other flowers sparkled like gemstones in the low sunlight.Read More»
Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer. Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at a glance and a lack of harmony and proportion is more readily seen.” -Leonardo da Vinci
I once had a friend ask me how I could enjoy taking vacation. Looking back at her, I didn’t know what she meant. She explained further. “I don’t get to relax at all when we’re on vacation. The kids are always at each other. Mealtimes are the worst, and they never want to ride in the car, or airplane. It’s like we shouldn’t even try to go, because vacation never turns out like I hope.” I didn’t really have an answer for my friend on that day, but the conversation has never left my thoughts.
Since we’ve lived in Europe, my family and I (my husband and I have 3 school-aged boys) have had the incredible opportunity to travel extensively. But, we have taken advice from very wise friends before we left the US. They encouraged us to travel as much as possible, because the expat assignment is such a unique opportunity to see the world with our family. We have taken that advice to heart. So far in our 2 1/2 years in Prague, we’ve traveled to 21 countries, and in this year alone, we have stood with our toes in the Baltic, North, Mediterranean, Tyrrhenian, Ligurian, Adriatic, and Aegean Seas. (the 7 Seas!)
But, all travel comes with its hardships. I have learned a little about travel and what suits me and my family.
One thing is this:
Travel in and through foreign cities is not relaxing.
It doesn’t matter if I’m overlooking Prague:
Traveling in and through dense crowds of people does not equal a restful and relaxing vacation.
Instead, I am learning what is relaxing, and what makes up the kind of vacation (the one I highly prefer) I call a Getaway. Because it is just that, a getaway from the busyness and stresses and pressures of everyday life. An escape.
My definition of a Getaway: to step away from it all, to let the soul catch up to the bodyRead More»
A tavola non si invecchia. – Italian proverb.
Translation: At the table with good friends and family you do not become old.
I love Italy. There is so much to love, especially for enjoying the values of good food and wine, and the wealth of family.
Last week, my husband and I and our three sons spent ten days in Italy. Since we live in Prague as expats, we could drive in and through Italy’s beautiful regions, from the Alpine Dolomites to the colorful wine regions. For me, a week retreat along Italy’s coast with my family is pretty much paradise … We spent much time on the beach and around a weathered kitchen table, enjoying the best Tuscany has to offer. It was divine!
We ventured for the first time into the UNESCO World Heritage area called the Cinque Terre, and stayed in a village called Monterosso al Mare. The Cinque Terre, along Italy’s Northwestern coast, is known for its centuries-old villages nestled high among the rocks of the Ligurian Sea, along the Mediterranean. The Italian seafood dishes, the house wines, the clanging of the town bells, and the stunning sunrise linger in my memory.
As we left Cinque Terre on teetering roads over a thousand meters above the sea, we passed into Tuscany by Pisa and settled into our favorite spot along the Mare in Tuscany’s southwestern seaside region called the Maremma. I have written about the region before (click here), as this was our third year to spend time there in October. And, wow, there are not many words to describe the beautiful weather and countryside … so, some photos to share:
Next week, I’ll share more photos, including Siena and Rome.
Question for you: Where is your favorite family retreat?
Along the Sea
Come walk with me
Along the sea
Where dusk sits on the land
And search with me
For shells are free,
And treasures hide in sand.
This week, I’m in Italy with my family, on a retreat vacation, soaking up the Tuscan tranquility I have so grown to love.
One of my favorite things about a beach retreat is being able to collect shells. In Tuscany, where shells match the colors of sunrise and sunset, my boys and I marvel at the jewels of the Sea, walk the deserted beaches along the Mediterranean, and collect our favorite shells … that’s what I’m doing until next week, when I’ll share photos and stories of Italy.
Have a great week!
“The sky broke … into full sunset and the water caught fire.” -Pamela H. Johnson
As I type, I sit below a large canvas painting of a coastline sunset where the water reflects so much citrine color it looks as if it is on fire. I painted it several years ago, and it is my personal favorite. In the center of the painting, a girl stands in the lapping waves with her skirt hiked up, askew, as she stands transfixed.
In the same way that some of us can’t stay away from a sumptious chocolate or a handful of vine-ripened raspberries, I am drawn to the coast. And in particular, I love coastline sunsets. There is something about the way that the earth meets water, and then touches sky, that grabs my heart and keeps hold. Every time we are near an ocean or the sea, as time approaches for the sun to dip to bed for the night, I find myself standing along the shore, rapt by the sun’s grand color show.
This week, passing through photos, I caught a glimpse of a photo I took along the Florida coast just over two years ago (above). And I knew I had to share it. To me, there is something about the colors which won’t let go, about the vibrant light which boldly says “I am alive.”
In the past few years, we’ve been able to see many coastlines on different parts of the world. Here, four of my favorite sunsets from four different Seas:
Do you have a favorite place to watch sunrises or sunsets? One particular time you remember?
There is scarcely any writer who has not celebrated the happiness of rural privacy, and delighted himself and his reader with the melody of birds, the whisper of groves, and the murmur of rivulets. ~Samuel Johnson
It is true: I love the countryside. My family came to America in the early 1900′s and settled in the wide stretches of land in the heart of the United States. The more I travel and the longer I live, I believe that we naturally migrate toward our roots and that our hearts feel most at home in places like our heritage. There are so many similarities in land and weather patterns and people between Western Europe and much of the United States. And we’ve never seen it so clearly as driving across middle Europe into the Coastal lowlands of Belgium and the Netherlands this past week.
For hours, we drove through checkerboards of farms, fields of golden colza, and hills of soft green meadows. Following, several photos that to me describe the staggering beauty of the coast and countryside in Belgium and Holland– the view through my lens:
Can you see in the photo above the people in the far distance standing near the surf? The beaches in low-lying Belgium and Holland go on forever!
I loved getting to see the region of so many of our closest friends here in Europe. It’s beautiful!
In what ways do you appreciate a break from the city by escaping to the countryside? Have you been to Holland and / or Belgium?
“It’s the change of rhythm which I think is what keeps me alive. In Spain I hear so much noise from my window that can’t stand it. In Switzerland it’s the lack of noise that drives me crazy.” -Geraldine Chaplin
All my life, I have dreamed of going to Spain … from the days of my first Spanish class in 6th grade to the advanced Spanish literature and history classes I took earning a Minor in college. Last weekend, my family and I went. To Barcelona.
There are so many things to say about Spain, and about the spirit so alive in Barcelona. But as with many things, sometimes photographs do a better job at communicating. So, a glimpse at Barcelona through the lens of my camera. Enjoy!
*A great novel entitled The Cathedral of the Sea, by Ildefonso Falcones, tells a story of medieval Catalonia and Barcelona centered around the story of the building of the Catedral de Santa Maria del Mar. A compelling page-turning story I enjoyed (click here for the book’s website).
Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky. -Rabindranath Tagore
When we travel to the beach, my favorite part of the day is at the end. I love to be at the edge of the shore and stand rapt at the emerging colors of the sunset. Oranges and reds and blues and yellows all merged into one spectacular living work of art. It pauses for only moments, changing, and rearranging the depths of fire in the sky until all at once, it fades into nothing and drops into the Sea.
Here, I stood at the edge of the sand along the Italian Maremma, with my toes in the Mediterranean Sea. In perfect timing, two fishermen rowed out and retrieved their catch at the peak of the color. Truly, at times like that, my soul sings because of the beauty.
Have you seen a sunset that has lingered in your memory? Where were you? How did the scene make you feel?