Tag Archives: beach

On Butterfly Wings (short story)

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For the first time in weeks, she felt safe and secure. She felt calm as she sat on a thick carpet of dry pine needles. Deep in the heart of the small cluster of trees, she was hidden from prying eyes, protected from the world about her. No one knew she came there to think, to read and now to write, well, journal, to be more precise. She was finally alone for the first time in weeks.

She had discovered this small quiet sanctuary by chance. Or had something guided her towards it? How many times had she walked past that stand of trees without a second thought? Something had caught her attention though and, on a whim one sunny summer day, she had strayed from the path to take a closer look. The second she had stepped into the hidden clearing deep with the circle of pine trees, a tranquil silence had enveloped her. She immediately felt as if she belonged there. Was something from the past, from another lifetime, reaching out to tell her she was supposed to be there?

Over the months she had visited the small clearing regularly. After several idyllic afternoons spent hidden there, she realised that she wasn’t the only one spending time in the space. Someone had hung some wind chimes high up on one of the branches. Their gentle tinkling notes were soothing as she hid beneath them, sheltered from the outside world, recharging the batteries of her soul.

Now though, as she settled herself on the thick layer of dried pine needles, her heart and soul were troubled.  Time was running out. Sitting cross-legged, she stared down at the journal resting in her lap. It was slightly larger than a desk diary with a silvery pink cover decorated with multi-coloured butterflies. Its lined pages were blank. She had bought it on a whim over a year before, attracted by the bright butterflies. She never could resist a butterfly.

With a trembling hand, she opened the small, hardbacked journal at the first blank page and began to write. Time lost all meaning as she poured her hopes and fears into the pages. Now that she had opened the lid on the well of emotions that had been bubbling inside her since mid-winter, the words flooded the pages. Safe in the freedom of her journaling, she wrote about feelings and emotions that she had barely consciously acknowledged. She wrote about love. As her spidery writing covered page after page, the pain in her heart and her soul lessened. Her fears of rejection and of failure and of loss and regret gradually began to melt away. Seeing her own words written down in front of her for the first time, she recognised that she had never been the one at fault. Her only fault was to care too deeply about life and some of the people in it.

If she had known then what she knew now, would she have lived her life any differently?

Turning to the last blank page, she smiled to herself and silently acknowledged that she wouldn’t change a second of it. Reliving some of those memories had made her smile, something she had had little cause to do of late.

Staring at the final blank page, she paused. Over the course of the spring afternoon, she had filled the journal with her innermost thoughts. This last blank page was her final chance to have her say, to say how she really felt. The only opportunity left to write a long overdue letter. It was a chance to say goodbye.

Keeping her handwriting small, she swiftly filled the page with words written straight from the heart.

A warm red glowing light was swathing the clearing. It was the colours of sunset. Time was almost up.

Closing the journal over, its magnetic cover snapping into position, she let out a sigh. A little unsteadily, she got to her feet, brushed the pine needles from her jeans and slipped the journal and her green pen into her tote bag. Glancing round for one last time, she whispered, “Thank you.” then ducked down low as she stepped out of the sanctuary into the late afternoon sunshine.

The sun was low in the sky, almost touching the hills across the river to the north. It was casting streaks of red and gold across the virtually cloudless sky, promising a stunning sunset when the golden orb finally dipped below the horizon.

Slowly she made her way along the path then down onto the deserted stretch of beach. Breathing in the salty air, she smiled. Listening to the waves gently lapping ashore, she smiled. Feeling the damp sand under her unsteady feet, she smiled. Feeling the last of the sun’s warmth on her pale cheeks, she smiled.

It sapped the last of her strength but she made it to her favourite spot at the far end of the beach just as the sun began to disappear. The view was perfect. Unable to resist, she reached into her bag for her phone, ignoring all the alerts about missed calls and messages, and photographed one last spectacular sunset.

The bag fell open and, unseen, the butterfly journal dropped out onto the sand. The magnetic cover sprung open.

“There you are!” came an exasperated cry. “Where the hell have you been? Everyone is out looking for you!”

 

Long after the sun had set, a gentle breeze blew in from the west. It caught the pages of the journal flicking them over, setting her emotional confession free.

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Gotta Love The Beach In Winter….

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Anyone that follows my blog or has read the Silver Lake series knows I love the beach.

There is nothing like the feeling of sand under your feet to soothe the soul. It’s my quiet place. My happy place. My thinking place. My sanctuary….

Even in winter….no make that especially in winter….it holds a special kind of magic.

Would you believe me if I said the photo above had been shot in January? No? Well it was – the 1st of January to be precise.

In winter the beach tends to be virtually deserted. OK, it tends to be damn cold too! It’s Scotland – it can be damn cold in summer! On several occasions I’ve timed my visits just right and managed to secure the whole beach to myself for a few precious minutes.

Selfish I know but, in those few stolen moments, it’s MY space.

Space to daydream. Space to think things through (or over think them as I have a tendency to do). Space to seek creative inspiration. Space to reminisce. Space to shed private tears. Space to breathe. Space to recharge the batteries.

Without fail, I leave every time feeling calmer and more grounded. Maybe it’s the water themed name or the Cancerian birth sign but my soul is most definitely tied to the beach.

Where’s your happy place?

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An Hour At The Beach A Day Keeps The Blues Away…

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It’s no secret to anyone who reads this blog, follows me on social media or who has read my book babies that I love the beach. I’m not fussy about it being an endless stretch of powdery sand…..although…I am partial to that, I must confess.

 My local stretch of beach, tiny and shingly as it is, is perfect. It’s my “go to” place to recharge my batteries.

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“Hello, my name is Coral and I’m a beach addict.” Ha ha

Recently, I escaped for an hour or so. I’d been stressing and over-thinking a few things and needed to just chill for a bit. As I sat in a quiet sheltered spot, watching the world go by, an analogy struck me.

A previous high tide had dumped a line of seaweed along the shore, all the “junk” that no longer served it. All the crap of the week gone by.

The tide was low as I walked along and the sand was all rippled by the waves. All the thought patterns laid bare for all to see.

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It was so low that rocks normally covered in water were exposed. The raw nerves perhaps that are best kept hidden from the public eye.

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Scattered along the shoreline were some small shells. Precious memories to be kept safe and treasured for another day.

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Something else that struck me as part of this analogy was that several people were running rough shod over this freshly exposed area. Just like in real life, people trample all over your memories and emotions, oblivious to how it makes you feel.

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In due course, long after I’d packed up and meandered home, the tide would come back in, it’s waves soothing the bruised and frayed beach underneath. The rocks would be covered by the river and the ripples smoothed out and washed into a fresh pattern on the next tide.

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Sometimes everyday life gets to us all. Whether its work stresses, family stresses or reminders of the past, there are times when we each feel exposed. Times when we feel that we have bared our souls to the world only to have it trampled on. But, like the low tide at the beach, these moments often don’t last long and are soothed away by a change of tide.

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That Little Special Corner Of The World….

Anyone who has read my book babies or who knows me, the real me, knows where my heart and soul lie…. the beach.

Maybe it’s something to do with watery theme to my name or my star sign (I’m a Cancerian) but, every now and again, (ok – on a regular basis)  my soul needs its batteries recharged …. it needs sand between the toes and ocean/river water around them.

Within a mile or so of my house, there’s a tiny little stretch of beach that feeds my soul when I need it most. Whether its a cold stormy winter’s day or, like tonight, a warm calm summer’s evening, that little stretch of sand and shingle does the job.

Its one of my special little corners of the crazy mixed up world. Where’s yours?

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Private Bubble

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Something a bit different for this week. It’s been a while since I shared any poetry, largely because most of them are too personal, too emotional, to share with a wider audience.

This photo was taken on the day at the beach that inspired the following poem a few years back. We arrived at Cape Henlopen, near Rehoboth DE, to a misty seashore. Having driven almost a hundred miles to get there, we were not about to be deprived of a day at the beach! Part way through the day I wandered off along the shoreline on my own and realised that the mist had closed round me like a cocoon. I couldn’t see another soul. I couldn’t hear another soul. All around me was the seabirds and the ocean….and for those few minutes while I sat on the sand and watched the waves roll in, it was bliss.

 

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As the mist rolls in from the ocean

Casting spirals around in the air

I watch the seabirds at play.

 

They rush out after each wave.

They run hell for leather as the waves rush  in to snatch their feet.

 

They chatter and flutter.

The waves crash and glide.

The mist soundlessly swirls and drifts

 

Sand between my toes.

Damp misty warmth on my sun kissed skin.

Not another human in sight.

Contentment.

 

(originally written 10 Sep 2008)

 

And chill…. hopefully.

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There are countless things in this world that I’m useless at but there is one that I really am particularly rubbish at.

I really don’t relax very often. I struggle to do “chill.”

I’ve been on holiday from work for the past week and genuinely haven’t managed to feel chilled out at all. No matter what I tried, all the usual tricks, nothing seemed to work for longer than a few minutes. I was beginning to think I was going to return the salt mine almost as frazzled as I’d left it.

That was until yesterday afternoon….

The sun was shining. I decided that the housework could wait for another day and I set off for a walk. Normally a walk means countless photos of the same stretch of the world but not today. Yes, I had my camera with me and I did take a few photos but my heart wasn’t in it. The love for it wasn’t there.

I just needed “beach therapy”.

It’s no secret that I love the beach.

Ok, there is one particular beach that is my absolute favourite and holds endless precious memories but as it’s several thousand miles away my local stretch of shingle and sand had to suffice.

As I walked along the path towards it, I could see that the tide was out and that the warm spring sunshine had attracted dog owners and parents with small children by the dozen. It didn’t bode well for some peace and quiet….

Would I be able to find the sheltered spot in the sun that my needy soul was craving?

I wandered down the short dusty path onto the sand and headed slowly west along the beach.

Almost the second that there was sand beneath my feet (yes, I still had my Converse on- it’s Scotland in April and I’m not insane enough to go barefoot….well, not quite!) I felt myself sigh. Felt an air of calm wash through me.

Slowly I meandered along the beach, looking for a suitable sheltered spot. I spied two rocks at the back of the beach that looked to be in a sheltered nook. It was windy and the breeze was clearly reminding everyone that it was still only April. Brrr!!!!

A bit like Goldilocks, I sat on the larger rock first.  Too lumpy! I tried the smaller, flatter rock. Perfect.

Within a few moments, I was sitting there contentedly lost in the tale on my Kindle with my music playing in my ears thanks to my omnipresent iPod. (Yes, it was Myles Kennedy before you ask)

For a little over an hour I sat there reading, listening, occasionally pausing to people and dog watch. Gradually the batteries of my soul began to recharge. Idyllic.

Mentally I ran through the gallery of beaches that I have visited over the years. The Cornish sand dunes I rolled down as a little girl, the endless sands in Harris that I collected shells on with my mum and my Wee Gran, the beach in Brittany that I spent an afternoon on as a teenager and saw my first nudists (an educational afternoon for my 14 year old self!), the beaches in Portugal with the fishermen mending their nets, the glorious sands of Mauritius and the man who sold carved fresh pineapples every day. My memories then settled on my favourite beach on the Delaware coast. As I basked in the Scottish sunshine, I relived the memories of time spent there. I could almost hear the ocean waves crashing in.

A chill breeze blew up and brought me back to reality with a shiver. A bank of cloud was rolling in signalling that it was time to call it a day.

Carefully I wrapped the precious memories up in tissue paper and stowed them back in their boxes in my mind. I put my Kindle back in my bag, stuffed my phone into my jeans pocket and got to my feet. Ok, got stiffly to my feet…ha ha.

Feeling my soul somewhat lighter I walked back across the sand towards the dusty path then with one last lingering look at the dogs splashing in the water I headed slowly for home with sand in my heart and my shoes.

Finally, I felt chilled.

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A Moments Peace and Quiet Required

Ever have one of those days/weeks where everyone wants a piece of you? When the “to do” list gets longer instead of shorter the more you do? When the only peace and quiet you get is in the loo and even then there’s either a child or a cat wanting in? One of those times when you just want to run away?

There’s been a few of those around here recently.

Not helped by myself, I have to add. I’ve joked with friends and colleagues for a while that I need to get the word “no” tattooed on the palm of my hand and adopt a “talk to the hand” approach……it’ll never happen. Not in my nature. Never will be.

Every now and then though, it is blissful to steal those few minutes/hours of “me time”.

It’s taken me years to realise that it doesn’t make you a bad/weak wife/partner/mother/friend to need time alone. It doesn’t make you selfish. In fact, in the long run, it probably makes you a better wife/partner/mother/friend.

One of my most blissful, perfect, totally alone moments happened about six years ago on a beach in Delaware, USA. It was a misty humid day at the shore and I’d gone for a walk along the sand, leaving the kids with my aunt and uncle. The mist was patchy; the ocean remarkably calm. Gentle waves were lapping in at my feet instead of the usual crashing breakers. I stopped and sat down on the damp hard packed sand, just out of reach of the waves, in a small clear bubble in the midst of the mist and watched the seabirds play in the waves.

For those few short minutes I was completely and utterly alone. Not another human in sight. Just me, alone with those little birds and the waves. Heavenly. Good for the soul.

The moment has lived with me and inspired the poem below. Enjoy!

 

Private Bubble

 

As the mist rolls in from the ocean

Casting spirals round in the air

I watch the sea birds at play.

They rush out after the wave.

They run Hell for leather

As the wave rushes in at their feet.

They chatter and flutter.

The waves crash and glide.

The mist swirls and drifts.

Sand between my toes.

Damp misty warmth on my skin.

Not another human in sight.

Contentment.

 

10/9/08

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