Sunshine and Hurricanes

I had almost three blissful weeks at Pawleys Island, interrupted only by a hurricane (minor detail) (or not). It isn’t as though hurricanes are rare in September, and it isn’t as though I’m unfamiliar with both the phenomenon and the havoc it can wreak, but I definitely wasn’t expecting it. We were deep in the midst of awakening our brains and creating and walking and walking more and talking and dreaming and making.

And then the sea got wild.

And then it got wilder.

And then we were evacuated. C’est la vie.

We only missed a couple of days, but of course those two days equate to at least seven more projects, eight more walks on the beach, several more armloads of shells, hours and hours of laughter, seven fabulous meals, and too many hugs to count.

Pawleys, I love you. See you next September.

Left to Right and Top to Bottom: Cloud reflections on wet sand; Caroline working on a woodblock; Dinner!; Night moves on the beach; Caele’s charcuterie; Laura McKellar’s glass mosaic; Laura Hitchcock’s crone-in-progress; Plum tarts with salad and burrata; Artwork by Staci Swider; Leaders Pam and Laura; Cocktails at Chive Blossom; Local landscaping; Mosaic-in-Progress by Pam; Sea creatures that attached themselves to an old flip flop on the beach; Painting by Laura Hitchcock; Pawleys Evening; Mary making magic with glass; Susannah the supreme ice cream maker; Armload of conch shells.

How to Use Slut in a Sentence

Admittedly and unabashedly, I’m a wind slut pure to the core. There’s nothing else that makes me open all my tendrils and glow, riding the breeze with arms and legs and fingers and toes outstretched at the hint of a sudden, unexpectedly delicious breeze. It makes me all Sigourney Weaver, suddenly bellowing COME TO ME MASTER!!!

My children, of course, think I’m crazy. They run and hide, always afraid someone will catch a glimpse of them and assume that they’re equally nuts. They’re not, of course. Not yet.

And how delightful that I’m at the beach for three weeks with a passel of girls on retreat. And how delicious that we’re each able to use our time as we wish. And how exceptionally lucky that it’s September, with a largely barren beach laid out at my feet for the taking. And take you I shall, you wanton wind, tousling my hair and curling my toes, and me not giving any kind of a damn.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s to grab every bit of it and learn to dance with the wind.

Home / Not Home


You know how after you’re gone for a week or a month or only a few days and you come home and, for just a moment (or a week), you can’t find even the things you normally use DAILY and that have been in the same place for years?

And isn’t that kinda cool — to know that a few days of new input can completely shift your view, your routine, your same old/same old — so quickly?

And then suppose we think about it a bit, and make the conscious decision not to go back, NOT to remember the routines that once filled our minds quite full to the brim so quickly. Suppose we consciously decide to embrace the shake-up and reinvent at least once a year. Could you do it?

And I don’t mean leaving your family, because family is the best kind of absolute, or giving up your passions, which are passions for a reason, but simply waving tootleoo to habits and assumptions and routines that we blindly embrace and keep on the nightstand simply because they’ve always been there — always within reach — always easy and familiar. Suppose instead we make a conscious decision to embrace the not-familiar, the slightly difficult, the monumentally hard.

There’s much to be said for the familiar and even the easy. It’s why we love coming home, re-entering the embrace that fits just right, the dailiness we’ve created. But suppose we take this moment — this fraction of a second of omg-where’s-the-toothpaste, to look at our lives.  To look at our series of moments which can be either tiny embraces or monumental rediscoveries, to hold on to this lost-ness and re-imagine it as an opportunity for reconsideration and reinvention. Suppose we clean house, routine-wise and image-wise and imagining-wise, deciding which to keep, which to commit to wholeheartedly, which to see anew, and which might be holding us back from our own evolution?

Pamela Goode, born 1954, evolved at a rapid pace until 1978, a moderate pace until 1995, stalled for the next 30 years, died.

Let’s not go that route.

Fly

My dad used to dream about flying. In the dreams, he’d crouch down and begin flapping his arms until he took off exploring the universe. Me, not so much. I think I’ve dreamt of flying twice, and both times I was able to lift off, but then just bounced around the ceiling. It was a start, but hardly exhilarating.

A few days ago though, a cool thing happened. I was walking through the neighborhood and uncharacteristically glanced up, up, up. To my utter surprise, two storks were soaring around in the sky above me, and they were absolutely gorgeous.

I’m somewhat accustomed to wildlife. Our house fronts on heavily wooded areas that promise a daily bounty of one bird/rodent/fish or another. There are often herons in the creek, standing quite still with eyes focused hard on the flowing water for edibles, plenty of owls hooting back and forth in the afternoons and evenings, or once when I drove home in the dark, an owl who flew beside my car, his eyes perfectly level with mine until I reached the house and off he went. Lately our frequent flyer has been a rather hefty hawk that perches at the tippy-top of a cypress wavering from the weight, and a bit too close to the bird feeder for my comfort. We also have plenty of deer that trot across the creek and wander the backyards, showing their babies the ropes. And of course mystery animals. One morning we noticed HUGE footprints in the mud near the creek after a rain, and we never had a clue who made them ….

But no storks.

And then suddenly there were two. Two drop-dead gorgeous birds flew together in graceful circles directly above me — not over the creek, but on my city street, and I was awe-struck.

So I’ve been reading up on them. Storks can live thirty-nine years. They’re among the highest flying birds in the world, and travel up to 16 miles an hour. Were it not for the height, you could mistake them for ballerinas, stretching necks and legs and wings to create a very Rudolf Nureyev look as they fly.

They’re pure magic, and I’m taking their message to heart.

(Stock (or Stork) Photo)

Street Trash

Yes, my mom did indeed tell me not to pick up “stuff” on the street. And yes, she had good reason, but also yes, I do it anyway. In fact, I do it every chance I get. It’s a kinda caffeine-like addiction, but without the shakes — only glee.

I’m not sure how or why or when it started, but I can’t get enough of accidental street art. The random bits of shape and color against black asphalt call to me like mourning doves, only a bit dirtier, and I grab them like Sandpipers stealing periwinkles on the beach.

I’m pretty sure you can see the allure, right? A little boy whose wagon wheel fell from his pocket, the death of a worm whose last message to the planet is love, a yellow bottle cap whose vaginal shape speaks of rebirth, a gorgeous fall leaf that has somehow matured and fallen several months early (which couldn’t be a good thing), total joy in the marriage of children and chalk, and a crimson leaf that has succumbed to changes I can’t identify, but I love her just the same.

As always, my message in the post is Look. See.

There’s magic everywhere.

In the Dark

Last night we walked across the quiet street in the almost-dark and settled onto the dock to watch the mullets jump. I can promise you with all my heart, fingers, and toes that these are words I’ve never said before, and also that even as a beach girl, I have no clue what a mullet looks like. I DO know that they’re out in force in the dark, twisting and flashing across the night, sometimes solo and other times in groups large enough to turn every head on the docks.

Or in some cases, gigantic splashes from a passing school that wants to show off their sass and leap all at once in a shimmery flicker.

I don’t know. There’s something rather Deliverance-y about this story, but totally without the pig parts. Lots of stars, lots of dark, lots of magical splashing, lots of howling laughter.

And then I stepped a bit to one side and there — standing in mud up to his ankles with a look of quiet, intense focus and surrounded by a bevy of laughing, midnight beauties, I suddenly saw him — a huge blue heron just standing there waiting to pounce.

As far as I could tell, he never did manage to grab a late dinner, and as we walked away, he was suddenly nowhere to be found. But we shared a moment in the night, even though I’m not sure he enjoyed it as much as we did.

I can tell you this, though — we’ll be back.

Addendum: We did return — same dock, same night filled with stars — and not a single mullet, not a single splash, not a single heron.

Bliss

Yes, I’m “home” — wriggling my toes into the warm, soft sand, rejoicing as each wave curls and arcs and reaches and throws herself, once again, onto the land. Watching the legs, whether long and stick-like or almost invisible, of miscellaneous creatures that call both land and sea “home.” We are each one of them in mysterious ways, don’t you think?

But mostly, I’m a total captive to the wind. No city air can compete with the endless and ever-present breeze that brings her bounty across the sea and takes me whole.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Pawleys is one of our staples at Wild Hair Adventures (girl trips!), and I have no doubt that our significant others would be surprised to get a peak at what we do. We create, we talk about the things that we’ve discovered in life, we cook, we eat, we dance (sometimes wildly), we watch the seemingly endless motion of swaying sea oats sending down their roots to stabilize the land, and we take lots and lots and lots of pictures. Yesterday I watched cranes catching fish with their big scoopy bills, seiners casting nets again and again and again, and night fishermen settled into the dark in peace and solitude.

But mostly, we breathe. We breathe the salt air. We breathe roadside flowers. We breathe the marsh grasses. We breathe the colors of sunsets. We breathe in time and love and space, and it fills us with everything good in life.

I think I was born with sand between my toes, and it has nourished me well.

Clean Freak

I’m not a clean freak. Never have been and never will be, because there’s way too much to grab and enjoy in this life. But some little switch flipped itself in the past couple of weeks and all hell has broken loose. I can’t stop cleaning.

So far I’ve emptied, considered, purged or kept with a stronger hand that I ever thought possible. I’ve gone through everything that comes under the heading of “what happens when you inherit from both sides of the family, their spouses, their parents, their children, their children’s children, nieces, nephews, visitors, and a dog or two. Kidding about the dog, but we now have a GoodSized GoodWill pile, all of which I washed today. 

Sterling candle snuffer well over a foot long, statuette of a cherub riding a dolphin, miniscule ashtrays, a lovely blue cut-glass boat headed by a cherub and two oars she could never handle on her own, a globulous set of pewter cream and sugar servers that appear to be posing as five inch tomatoes (and still have decades, and I mean DECADES, of sugar inside them, a sterling bed warmer (honestly, how old could that be???), and 175ish sterling baby spoons marked with happy slogans from travels around the world. Yes, you read this correctly. It’s interesting learning the guts and bones of your families, isn’t it?

And then I cleaned out the no-man’s land under the sink and found all kinds of treasure, which I tossed anyway, mostly because it comes under the heading of Very Old. I did however, keep a dried up tub of Wrights Silver Polish, which I was able to re-hydrate, primarily because I used to date Mr. Wright, who was not at all dried up at the time.

In the happiness category, I came across an old dress which had once been floor-length with a looong ruffle at the bottom. I had (some decades ago) whacked it off a bit below the knee and placed pins for hemming and then tucked it away for another day, which was apparently this day. I’m not quite sure how I got that side zipper closed, but I did, and I proudly wore the dress for most of today, AND soon I’ll be raising it up to well-above-the-knee level and flaunting it. You gotta make cleaning fun, right?

And then I decided to tackle the 12 sheets of 2” thick PINK insulation foam that I had leftover and which has graced our living room for the past year. Sigh. I did well for the first 10 sheets, but then my ankle (also known as styrofoam-snapper) rebelled just as Vernon walked in the door to hear my scream. It’s not broken, but now it’s looking at me with that I’M DONE FOR TODAY kinda look. And yeah, maybe I am.

Wandering Paris

So. What do you do with a week in Paris? Everything you can, right??? I’ve written about it more than a few times, and you might be surprised that my previous posts have usually focused on details — a clock above the road, the beautiful patina of a fish-themed, french bulldogs and food markets so enticing that you swear never to eat in America again … you get the idea.

But today I’m going to wax less poetic and dive into clothes shopping. Oh who am I kidding? It’s Paris and it’s clothes from Paris. Poetic to the max.

I’m pretty sure you can find anything, and I do mean anything, at the Paris vintage shops. But as much as I love them, there are days when I find that cruising the booths is very much like discovering an old pile of my own clothes that I somehow forgot to drop off at Goodwill. Years ago. Maybe decades.I’m drawn to them, sure … but do I really want to wear them again? 

Or more to the point, could I?

I can picture a well-coiffed woman wearing this dress or that floppy skirt, and indeed she does look fabulous. But alas, the It Girl in the body-clinging frock is 22 and weighs (almost) 95 pounds. Let’s face it, she’d look great in a roll of paper towels. Me? Not so much. I long for a dress that slinks its way over every bulge, crushing lumps like ice cubes in a blender.

They say that Paris women are sleek because they eat only when they’re hungry, and even then they manage to stop at a normal amount quite devoid of gorging. Can that actually work? What if you’re always hungry? What if you’re nervous? What if you need some extra energy? In a city with fresh croissants spewing their buttery breath at every corner, and I do mean EVERY corner, who can resist? 

French women, that’s who. Don’t ask me how.

I wonder if they teach a class in that . . . . And will there be treats?


Well Hello There!

It’s been a while and, honestly, quite a bit more than a while. It’s been a good busy, a hectic busy, a screaming into the pillows busy, a glorious busy, an explorative and enriching busy. But I feel like I’m at the edge of a new day, and I’m feeling more capable of grasping it than I anticipated.

Life changes haven’t always been my favorite thing. I’m one of those who stands on the precipice with gritted teeth and eyes squinting. I take baby steps. Achingly scream-worthy baby steps, and that’s okay. The slower you go, the more you examine yourself and your reluctance, the stronger you become. It’s what we all want, yes?

But somehow I’m okay with this change, and here’s the thing.

I thought I’d fall apart, and I got stronger instead. I saw the situation and merged pretty seamlessly into a mode I never thought I’d face.

Life is like this. As the man said, “you just might find you get what you need.”