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October 26, 2011     Post 27
fall odds and ends

The log on line has been getting a bit neglected but now the busy sailing season is over.

A few odds and ends follow;
Our Picton correspondent sends news that The Hastings Prince Edward Land Trust is hoping to preserve the Main Duck lighthouse and possibly the keeper's cottages. The Trust folks went out and walked around last month to see if they wanted to take on the project. The light tower itself is in good shape but apparently the Canadian gov has declared it surplus and that it may go up for sale. I for one am going to miss very much this powerful beacon as I sail the lake. We better hope the solar storms and politics spare the GPS system. And that some rich American doesn't buy it for a mansion add on.Perhaps the lighthouse and cottages will be transferred to Canada Parks. Let's hope so!

I recently ran a writer's workshop with the help of Karen Haas at the Bayview Wellness Center in Fair Haven. It went very well indeed and I hope to get some of the essays and poems from that day up on line somewhere soon. As the days shorten and temperatures drop Xmas stuff is starting to crowd Halloween out of the dollar stores and my mailbox is filling with invitations to book selling/signing events. I may be at the Charlotte Lighthouse on Dec 3 selling books there. Stay tuned.

Below is my initial effort at an essay for the writer's workshop;

Annie Dillard writes We are here on the planet only once and might as well get a feel for the place. That was the intent of “stone stories” offered with Karen Haas and the Bayview Wellness Center in Fair Haven that inspired this beach meditation.

Autumn, when lake levels drop, provides some of the year's best beach combing. Then the shore widens and the first equinoctial gales cast up new treasures. I recently hiked up McIntyre Bluff by the Sterling Nature Center on a sunny blue late September afternoon. From its heights I looked out upon a lake of azure and turquoise and near the shore a tawny brown as the endless ranks of waves marched in to destroy themselves upon the beach.

Back down at lake level the clatter and rattle of stones rolled by the wave withdrawals sounded distinctly under the surf's crash. The last few seconds of a wave's life are a fascinating succession of shape changes as the water builds, peaks to a crest, then falls forward in an explosion of dazzling white froth. At the moment before extinction, a fleeting light of great beauty shines through the attenuated wave top. As it forms, I try to name the briefly seen hue -is it glaucous? Sage? Taupe? I can't come up with a good word for the indeterminate brown and green and gray color seen for a fraction of a second. In a flick of time it vanishes-only to reappear in the next wave crest a few seconds later. Constancy and change, like the days of a routine life.

On this day I walk alone bathed in warm sun and I wonder which view is preferred. The Big View from atop the bluff or the detail and immediacy of the beach with its crashing surf. The long detached perspective is inspiring and uplifting- miles of shoreline and lake grandeur lie before you. Yet the details seen up close give insight essential to understanding. I can't say which I prefer. I do know that absorbed in a 400 million year old fossil at my feet I may miss the soaring flight of an eagle overhead. The devil is in the details. But is the distant view superficial in its lack of detail?

The beach helps us sense our limits. We only grasp a small corner of the Big Picture here as we ponder a billion year old pebble. I'm told when the animals that made the fossils on our beach lived, the shallow sea they resided in lay near earth's equator. How can a continent so solid and sturdy go wandering off, drifting here and there willy nilly upon earth's face? Was Cayuga County really somewhere down around Brazil back then?

Rivers often serve as metaphors for life and its onward rush of events. The beach, too, is an expression of our times on the edge. The repetitions of our days like the waves, are alike yet varied. I think of waves as expressions of individual lives. We, too, are a brief pulse of energy, born small, we ripple across the surface of existence, given life by the wind's breath that we call spirit. We grow, crest, and crash only to be replace by other lives of other generations.

Such are the thoughts of a solitary beach comber searching the edge for another pretty pebble.

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