After the big trip the adrenaline rush was no more. The counting of days before the departure—that was gone too. Now it was just the two of us, the Bogey Man and I. Jet lag gripped me as I watched the shadows on the ceiling. The nighttime demons were out to play. The trip was gone. Over. All that was left were the photos and bills. It was back to, what the Italians call, the terrible dailiness of life. Normal life felt half-empty after this grand voyage. I was in a rut. I had a vacation hangover.
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The fog was thick as we loaded our luggage into the cab. I was annoyed. I was annoyed that Bologna looked as beautiful as I'd ever seen it in this pearly, morning light. I was annoyed that I hadn't listened to Susie the day before and bought some dried, porcini mushrooms at that market. I was annoyed that this trip was ending and that I was going home. If only I had but one more day here—I could buy the mushrooms and then get some images of this amazing fog.
Normally I like to go to Muir Beach very early in the morning, long before the summer crowds start to fill up the small beach. Muir Beach is best experienced alone, save a few turkey vultures, oyster catchers, seagulls, or pelicans. I like the sand when it's freshly combed by the surf and before myriad footsteps and paw prints muss it all up. Yet, sometimes I arrive late and the party has started without me. On those occasions, the beach is full, the day's story already unfolding.
Tomorrow is a great day for photos. July 4th is a gaudy holiday filled with silly hats, parades, flags, bunting, and an occasional Uncle Sam on stilts. My camera is ready, I just cleaned the sensor with some exotic (meaning expensive) cleaner and the batteries are charging. Today I'm doing business chores that keep things going, the unglamorous underpinnings of life.
Please forgive my current obsession with Muir Beach sand. It will pass. I've been photographing these small sand vignettes for years, squirreling them away on my hard drive, not quite knowing what to do with them. I've always liked them but wondered if anyone else would feel the same way. I feel shy about them. But, creativity has its oddities and for some reason, right now, these simple, little images need to see the light of day.
"Listen to the ocean!" my mother used to tell me. Back in the early '60s the Jersey Shore had big conch shells cast onto the beach. They were everywhere. I was a short little towhead with a buzz cut and snazzy white sunglasses. I picked up a shell and held it to my ear. Sure enough, it had the echo of the ocean deep inside it.
The sand of Muir Beach is ever an elusive, artist's palette. It is swept constantly by sea and wind, its surf adds and subtracts. One cannot become too attached to any particular composition. None are made to last. But, in their brief life, they are lovely as anything ever conceived.
"The tide is at its lowest today!" A woman with a wide-brimmed hat caught my eye and whispered to me in excitement. I'd barely gotten to Muir Beach and had already realized there was something very special on that foggy morning. The surf was way out. Way out. A bunch of women with wide-brimmed hats seemed to have sensed that the tide would be low that day. They were everywhere, combing the beach, looking, being, acting like the curlews that were searching for food. The birds were oblivious to the women with silly hats. They were doing there own thing, seemingly very happy to be curlews on that fine morning.