SUMMER SIMMERS AWAY

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Always open big, they say, so……………

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This field of sunflowers was along Route 48 near Mattituck, NY on the North Fork of Long Island.  It was a joy to come upon.  I visited one afternoon, thinking how I would approach the farmhouse and ask permission to photograph in the field.  When I got there the field was swarming with bees … and photographers.  Apparently there was a de facto permission.  I enjoyed the visit but determined to return the following morning for the warm light of sunrise. I did and I was alone except for a few early worker bees.  What a wonderful way to start the day for both of us.

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And here, a worker bee at work.  I had left my macro lens in my room but I made this shot with my telephoto at 260 mm.

About that time a man driving by stopped and asked me if I was going to shoot all of the seeds.  My answer, “One at a time.”

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Elsewhere on the North Fork there were sunsets on Long Island Sound.  The sun, itself, need not always be in the scene.  Had it been, all of the diamonds on the beach would have been washed out.  As it was, it took me a long time to pick them all up.

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A simmering summer also produces storms, and some can be quite dramatic especially when over the water.  Here the message is, “Squall to port, squall to starboard;  keep a steady helm, lad.”

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We’re always good (?) for a couple of nor’easter storms during the summer.  This one in late July didn’t make the category but was scary just the same.  Those that are in charge of such things decreed that this was only a “Coastal Storm.”  I wonder if they would have felt the same had they been standing in the surf as was I?  It was awesome.decided that it was a “Coastal Storm”.  Regardless of the name they are humbling experiences.

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August also brings the annual Downbay Regatta to Little Egg Harbor.  A-cats, B-cats, E-Scows and Lightnings arrive from clubs along the coast north to Bayhead.  It’s a three day festival of competitive racing and partying.  Saturday morning’s start was not promising as they edged their way from the dock out towards the racing grounds.  But, in any weather it’s always an appealing sight.

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I rarely appear in these posts but this is to thank my right-arm daughter, Sigrid, for keeping me erect and helping me back to my seat after my waking up the young girls’ dancing.  If you missed that on Facebook  see it here.

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Well, what else?  Oh, yeah, the eclipse thing.  Here’s my take on it.

This is as seen through clouds of interstellar dust. The telescope was on the planet Bergiesplace which orbits Alpha Centauri, about 4.2 light years distant.  In case you’re believing the former, the shot was made just through the local clouds but I like the interstellar dust idea.  I had neglected to acquire any of the proper filters but I did have a variable neutral density filter which had 10+ stops.  That plus the clouds enabled me to capture the image

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Finally, a simmering summer leads to fall, and I sense a little of that.

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I was so pleased with this shot that I have nothing more to say.

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LIFE ON A SANDBAR WITH A NOR’EASTER

A nor’easter storm hit the Jersey coast on Monday and it proved fearsome.  High winds gusting to 60 mph, high seas, and coastal flooding.  Originally projected to be low to moderate flooding, the reality exceeded expectations.  From what I could see on Facebook I began to worry.  One graphic showed the surge tide at nearby Atlantic City at 6′;  my ground floor storage area pad is at 4′  My two engineering degrees helped me conclude that I might have a problem so I drove down Tuesday to inspect.

Long Beach Boulevard was closed because of flooding (earlier it had been closed from Shipbottom to Beach Haven).  In fact, before I diverted I passed a couple of ducks paddling on the boulevard.  I then drove down the higher-dryer Beach Avenue to my place in Beach Haven.  When I opened the backdoor I found that the floor was only slightly covered with water.  There had been enough, however, for the elevator pit to become a 5″ deep pond.  Oh, well;  cleanup time and my terrific son-in-law, Bob has volunteered to see to it.

I checked the rest of the house and found that we had lucked out as far as any leakage so I headed down to Holgate to see how the surfer’s beach had made out: Lots of damage.

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In the foreground are the remains of some dune fencing, installed to help resist dune erosion.  Further out and straddling the jetty is a large section of railing from a walkway that led onto the beach over a dune.

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The walkway came from further north along the beach.  Here we see what’s left of the dune after the waves had their way.

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Southward on the beginning of the Forsythe Preserve below Holgate there was this pile of dune fencing.  Pieces that had broken loose from the wiring were scattered far and wide; great material with which to make driftwood frames.

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Our friends, Nancy and Bob D., have a home in the beach block of Essex Avenue.  They lost access to the beach last summer from nor’easters so I drove there to see if it had worsened.  The walkway had the ominous yellow Police Closed tape across it.  I certainly wouldn’t cross such a line but, mysteriously,  I found this image later on my cell phone.

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The dark line is some kind of cloth which was put down to support the orange gravel base for the walkway.  That walkway originally sloped gently out and down for some distance to the “old” beach and the then-shoreline beyond.  The under-layment now stretches more steeply down to the “new” beach, about 30′ to 40′ below.

Scary.  They should put Police Closed tape across the entrance.

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Note to my fellow photographers:  I deliberately chose not to correct the horizon of this cliff scene.  I tried it but the result wasn’t as stark as the reality.

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HERMINE TAKES BACK THE SEA’S SAND

For many months there has been a major beach replenishment project underway along Long Beach Island.  The cynics among us (moi???) were waiting for the first big nor’easter to return things to normal.  Well, Hermine certainly tried, and did a lot of its own reclamation around Holgate at the southern tip of the island.  But, there’s still a lot of dune left to protect the island.

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The Friday night before the storm was stunning.  I swear to you that this sunset is right out of my cell phone … no enhancement, and just awesome.

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The image, however, belied the old sailor’s comfort:  “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight.” as Saturday morning brought an undelightful sea.

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For both of the above shots I had waded out into the (warm) water.  The turbulence threatened to knock me over along with my $$$ camera and $$$ lens but I made it back to shore.

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There were a few other souls on the beach; after all, the sun was shining.  This sandpiper was among them, thinking, perhaps that my flip-flop was its mother.

Excuse me; those are my flip-flops.

Excuse me; those are my flip-flops.

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Sunday morning dawned beautiful.  Crowds gathered at the end of the island to witness the drama of the still-angry sea.

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Here’s the famous wooden jetty which had been covered by the adjacent dune.  It’s what we expected but it’s still sad and a loss.

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Here we see a 10′ cliff on the dune that used to COVER the wooden jetty, kids and big kids enjoying it but also adding to the destruction.

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 The exciting sea made great opportunities for the enthusiastic.  This would be a fearsome prospect for me.  Maybe two or three years ago …. when I was only 80 …

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And, how exciting to climb the sky!

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We survived the storm.  We had rain only late Friday night, and we dined in the wind (under a tent) for the Saturday night season’s-end ball.  We brought in all of the porches’ furniture; Sigrid managed everything nicely for the annual trophies presentation Sunday morning, culminating a year’s work by her to prepare them all (ninety active trophies plus keepers).  My family raised everything off of the first floor onto cinder blocks and moved the bicycles up a half flight to the entry foyer, and some of us (moi, again) evacuated.  Yes, we lost some sand but some of that will come back, and we still have much more protection than we did before Sandy.

LIFE ON A SANDBAR!

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SANDY AT THE BEACH

Sustained winds of 60 mph, gusts to 89 mph, a storm surge of 12′ to 15′, a direct onslaught on the beach coupled with a nor’easter.  Picture after picture of devastation; house trailers scattered up against each other; beach front homes on stilts or knocked from their pilings; cars embedded in sand piles; boats on the streets; sand dunes moved from the beach into the borough, a 4′ watermark seen in a picture of a neighbor’s house; gas, electric, sewer and water shut off; guards with AK-47s.  What would we find?

With urgency and anxiety Bobby and I set off at 6AM Monday morning.  We reached the backup at 7, ten miles from the island.

The wait begins.

The orders were clear:  No one on the island without proof of ownership.  Bob and I speculated that they would give way in the face of such a backup and they finally did.  Still, it was 10 AM before we reached the house, and that only after getting through another armed roadblock.

At the house  the 4′ waterline, someone’s trash can box, some 6″x6″ timbers that held up the corner of a neighbor’s garden, a 12′ wooden boat which, if not claimed, will become a landscaping highlight in front of our house.  The plants are all destroyed and there is a layer of dried gray mud over everything.

I struggle to open the back door; the door lock is filled with mud.  Opened, there is then  the profound comfort of light.  The electricity has returned to beat back the physical and psychological darkness.  But it unveils the chaos from four feet of turbulent, rushing water in the ground level enclosure, a storage and hang-out area:  The sofa and chairs intended for the kids’ TV area; the shelving; the odd pieces of wood; the tools; the Hollytone and the cat litter; the bicycles stored for the winter.

The elevator pit is 8″ below grade and we could see that it was filled with water.  We raised the elevator to the next floor and heard the water running from it down into the pit.  But, it rose. 

We then began a room by room, window by window inspection and found that we had been blessed with no breaches.  A final trip to the roof deck revealed no shingles missing.  I was fortunate; most others weren’t.  On my street there are now homeless families.  There is yet no water to wash away the scum; there is no gas with which to heat away the dampness and the mold; there is no balm for the loss of a lifetime of accumulation. 

As well, the destruction of a means of making a living is daunting.  The old boat landing at the end of our street has been heavily damaged.  They have looked to the slip rentals to help cover its costs, and Nick, Jr. uses it as a base for his bait collection business.  Barely breakeven before the storm, what is its future?

Amongst those who flock here for the summer, the Purple Martins may also find less housing next season.

Bob was able to find his boat, still strapped to its trailer, just in another part of the boatyard where the surge had carried it, trailer and all. 

The destruction is overwhelming just in the parts of the island which we saw: Holgate, next to us and the last community south, was still closed because the damage made it too dangerous to enter.  Driving up and down the main boulevard I saw house after house with their possessions stacked at the curb like some island-wide garage sale.  Here and there is the occasional boat sitting on someone’s lawn, no doubt chagrined to be there.

Finally, I had to go look at my beach, home of so many pleasant days (and naps).  We had to cross the yellow caution tape but the walkway was still there as were the stairs. 

Though much of the dunes had been taken the beach will be there to draw us back again. 

I have posted earlier about the 100 years of the local yacht club and I have said to others that this hundred-year flood did not wash away those hundred years of pleasant summers.  I am greatly saddened by the losses and stress of my friends and the community and for their future burdens.  Today another great storm threatens us, this time without many of the dunes to protect us against another surge.   Again even the warnings batter us … coastal flooding … wind … storm surge … rain, and as if we hadn’t had enough, now snow and ice.

But, the sun rose after Sandy and it will rise again Friday and, with great difficulty,  life will resume.

THE FIRST NOR’EASTER – RAINDROPS KEEP FALLIN’ ON MY LENS

Today is the first nor’easter since I moved down in June.  Rain all night and off and on this morning.  My friend, Bob S., had told me about a flag fastened to the last of the boardwalk pilings.  Had to see what it would look like against the stormy surf.

The wind was blowin’ pretty good; the rain was stinging my legs slightly.  Had the cover on the camera but, hey, you can’t cover the lens, right?  So, a few raindrops.  Clone ’em out.

Loved it on the beach, with the wind and flying spray.  Started to leave and had to wait at the Stop sign.

Things on the bay side were a little better … no blowing spume but still foreboding.

The Meerwald’s in town, taking people out onto Little Egg Harbor bay and drumming up interest and, hopefully, contributions.  She was out yesterday:

But I don’t think they’re going to do much business today.

DEBUSSY’S LA MER AND OTHER PAENS TO THE SEA


Sea Fever by John Masefield

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way, where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

I recently attended a Philadelphia Orchestra concert which included the playing of Debussy’s La Mer (The Sea).  This performance was not part of my season program but I could not possibly pass it up.  It was wonderful!   While you’re reading this and looking at the images you can hear the third movement (the dialog of the wind and the sea) by turning up your volume and clicking on the arrow here.

Observers at the time referred to all of his work as impressionistic, a parallel to the French school of impressionistic art by such as Monet, Renoir, Pissaro and Cezanne.  Debussy is said to have rejected the idea but eventually accepted it.  I think it is bang-on, particularly in contrast to the structured work of the classical and baroque periods.

It is the impressionistic style that appeals to me but it is also the images evoked of the sea, something with which I have had a long love affair.  (My Nordic genes?)    As I mentioned in a previous post, my late friend, psycho-analyst LeRoy Byerly, once observed that the sea reminded us of the sloshing waters of the womb.    Well, it could be but my own affinity for the waters dates from childhood on the beaches and along the Intra Coastal Waterway, in a boathouse on pilings with my rowboat underneath it.  Also, having to watch all of the episodes of Victory at Sea many times over in OCS probably had some effect as well.

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In any event I have a bountiful stream of memories involving the seas and other waterways.  As a child, diving under the waters, pretending to be the comic book character, Submariner; walking the beaches in winter after school;  scampering dangerously from rock to rock on the jettys; putt-putting through the marshes after a night of fishing, with only a war surplus one-cell life jacket light as a running light.

As an adult it was watching the chairs slide across the deck in the wardroom while crossing a March, storm-tossed North Atlantic, and watching the long deck of the LST ripple with each wave through which we pounded.  It was  barely surviving a windy day’s broach and near capsizing of a Captain’s gig while rounding the tip of Conanicut Island where the Narrangansett opened to Long Island Sound’s four foot chop.  It was standing on the bridge in deep night during a quieter Atlantic crossing and seeing another ship ghosting by in the distance, sharing the greatness and the depths and the loneliness of stars and sea.  It was standing on a Pacific shore as the sun sank into the mysterious Far East, with Richard Rodgers’ Theme of the Fast Carriers spinning in my head, thinking about that war and my brother storming murderous beaches, and the great dramas and losses and sadness of that profound and forever-gone era.

It is my brother, Bill’s, poem defining experiences I have also felt.

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It was being anchored in a bight along the Rideau Waterway in Canada, surrounded by conifers on rocky hillsides, seated with my family on the roof of our rented houseboat as night and a Canadian chill fell upon us, and hearing the plaintive call of a loon.  It was being placidly anchored in some secluded gunk-hole of the Chesapeake Bay as twlight descended, amidst others at anchor; secure, sharing private peace from the hazards of life, the bay and the night… islands of humanity.   And, it has been struggling through six foot seas while the cat puked on the aft deck and Marty Lou wondered out loud why she had ever left the mountains.  It has been walking the docks of marinas after safely tying up at day’s end, hearing the sounds and smelling the smells of boats at rest.  It has been gazing over the froth-filled near-shore reefs at the distant mountains of St. Bart’s as the sun rose on our beloved Dawn Beach.  It has been gliding on a canal boat through a dark mountain tunnel in lantern light with the sounds of a requiem mass being played.  Whose?  Too many years ago; I don’t remember.

It has been out on the sailing grounds,sun and spray in my face, watching the races and hearing the shhhhh of the hulls slicing through the water, the clicking of the cranked winches, and the occasional flapping of luffing sails.  It has been standing on the beach during a Nor’easter, physically understanding the overwhelming forces of the pounding waves and my own insignificance.  And it has been watching the moon’s reflection on the brief sheen left by a receeding wave.

Yes, I must go down to the seas again…….

A SEPTEMBER NOR’EASTER – 9/13/09

It has been a few days of unpleasant weather.  Starting with high wind and drenching rains, we are now beginning to see some sunshine, a typical September nor’easter.  The sea has been angry.

 

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One can see the spray and the brown spume blowing through the air, and the waves, gradually giving up as they climb the beach’s slope but still strong  enough to undermine my tripod legs.  Such storms always bring watchers (and here I am), drawn to the drama of the pounding waves. 

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 My late friend, LeRoy (a psychoanalyst),  once told us that we are drawn to the sea because we have a deep memory of the sloshing waters of the womb.  Whatever.

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