Quiet Places

My love affair with water began in childhood. Summers were long and hot, and finding a way to cool off was always a high priority. I learned to swim in a natural spring, clear to the bottom and as cold as ice. The creeks nearby were tea-colored with swift currents brought on by heavy summer rains; jumping from a bridge into the swirling waters below was as much a right of passage as it was thrilling.

Even with all the creeks and springs at easy access, I had one special place not far from home – the Gulf of Mexico. A body of water so vast and so blue it seemed endless. Absent a storm pushing heavy waves ashore, it was as smooth as glass all summer long. Floating in its salty refuge comforted the languid broodings of my teenage self. Heartbreak, disappointment, awkwardness; I surrendered it all to the gentle caress of the waves. It was there that I discovered the value of solitude and how water has the power to bring me back to me.

For whatever we lose (like a you or a me),
It’s always our self we find in the sea.
― E.E. Cummings

To this day, water has that effect on me and I know that even the best day will be made better by a visit to the ocean.

There are days when I want to be on a beach and there are days when I need to be on a beach

You understand that statement completely if you crave solitude and also have a special place that soothes your soul and restores balance to life. I feel most at home by the sea and nothing tends my soul and lightens my spirit like a soft breeze, salty air, the anticipation of water on my skin… Abandoning thought, embracing feelings… acknowledging the power, the majesty, and mystery of it all.

Horseshoe Bay Beach, Bermuda

When I look back at our travel photos, beaches far outnumber any other landscape. In fact, we have rarely taken a trip that didn’t involve visiting a beautiful body of water.

I remember arriving at Bora, Bora by cruise ship and wanting nothing more than to immerse myself in those magical waters. I’d never seen anything like it. This place delivers so much more than you will ever see in a photograph.

Meeting up with fellow passengers after a full day here was electric. People talking at once, some struggling for words to adequately describe the experience. I wistfully gazed over the water from our picnic table, sipping a cold beer as we waited to reboard the ship. To this day tears come fresh to my eyes when I recall the gratitude I felt that day for witnessing such earthly beauty.

Bora, Bora, French Polynesia
Bora, Bora

Block Island in Rhode Island is another place that makes me stand still in awe. From Mansion Beach to Mohegan Bluffs, the beaches on this small island take my breath away. Visiting in the off-season ensures that we have them almost entirely to ourselves. From a brisk walk at sunrise to a sit and be still moment at sunset, these beaches provide hours of tranquility.

Mansion Beach, Block Island, RI
Mohegan Bluff

We often exit the beaten path while road tripping through the US and once in a while we stumble onto a gem so remote and beautiful we can’t believe our luck. Such was the case at Sea Rim State Park in Jefferson County Texas. It was well worth the five-hour delay to our intended destination. This place takes ‘stretching your legs’ to a whole other level.

Islands off the coast of Georgia are compelling in their natural beauty, history, and diversity. Getting to a few of them takes planning, but the journey is always rewarded. Sapelo Island is accessed by ferry or private boat and is virtually uninhabited except for a small African American community that descended from the original four hundred slaves who were brought there to work the land in the early nineteenth century.

The tour guide gave us much to contemplate while walking along this serenely beautiful beach.

Sapelo Island

Jekyll Island also lies off the coast of Georgia. It is a place we have returned to time and again. I have written about it many times as it is our annual tradition to ‘hunt for island treasure’ here during the month of February. Of course, the treasure hunt is a kitschy gimmick to lure tourists to the island, but that’s okay with us. We like playing along. It only takes about a minute to discover that the real treasure on this island is its natural beauty.

Jekyll Island, Georgia
Jekyll at Sunrise

The beach I visit most often is twenty minutes from home. I have shared many photos from the House of Refuge Beach, and you have seen its many faces on this blog during the past few years. It is indeed my favorite refuge and the place that renews my soul.

House of Refuge, Hutchinson Island, Florida
High Tide Water Show

High tide splashes are a delight, but there is nothing more soothing to my soul than a quiet afternoon during low tide conditions, sitting with my buddy, just being.

Hutchinson Island – House of Refuge Beach

Benefits of Quiet Time

This article (source) lists several benefits to ‘dialing down the noise’ in our lives beginning with mindfulness. Being in the moment helps us to reduce anxiety and focus on solutions. Other benefits are increased creativity, stress relief, inspiration, and promoting self-awareness. Sometimes we get so busy with ‘doing’ that we forget about ‘being.’ Being present, being mindful, being happy.

How About You?

What is your favorite place to just be quiet – a mountain stream, a garden, a park, a trail in the woods, perhaps a chair in the corner of a room, or maybe you love beaches too? Do you seek out or are you drawn to certain landscapes when traveling? We’d love to hear about the place that settles your mind and soothes your spirit.

47 thoughts on “Quiet Places

  1. Hi Suzanne – beautiful photos as always. I love a walk along the beach but I haven’t swum in the ocean for many, many years – I prefer a lovely calm pool (no sand in the bathers and no sharks!) I looked at all those stairs in the photo of Mohegan Bluff and they just did my head in – you’d have to truly be a beach lover to tackle that many steps (especially on the upward haul!)


    1. Hi Leanne, the Mohegan Bluffs staircase isn’t all that bad. There are resting platforms at intervals along the way. It would be hard to carry beach chairs, coolers, and the like down to the beach, but I just go with a camera, so not a problem. Although, the last time we were there erosion had washed away the naturally inclined descent from the bottom of the staircase. Someone had tied a rope to hold onto for the final few feet. That was interesting to navigate but still worth it.


  2. This is one of the most evocative posts I’ve read in a long while. Even though I’m not as drawn to the ocean as you are (although I do love it), I found myself longing to go there as I read your words and admired your beautiful beach photos. Bora Bora especially sounds so inviting 🙂


  3. Suzanne, your photos make me want to be on a beach right now! You captured some really beautiful beaches. I agree about needing quiet time. Any ocean beach is where I want to be when I need to soothe my soul.


  4. I understand! Nature soothes my soul – a beach or just some beautiful spot where I can pause and just be. I just returned from a morning walk to a small lighthouse on Lake Michigan. This is my favorite place on earth. We’ve just arrived, and I hope to take this walk each morning for the next two weeks. A few times, I will take my journal and write while looking at the lake. Your post is pure joy.


  5. I think the world would be a better place if everyone could have time alone on a beach. I loved your Horseshoe Bay image…and so many of the rest. My dad was what I’d call a ‘water child’ growing up on the banks of a river. He spent his whole adult life trying to get to live on water, and he finally did, in the last home he built. We still have that house and we all use it as a place to unwind. And to remember our folks, of course.


    1. Hi Dawn, ‘water child’ best describes me as well. I have never had a home on the water, but maybe there is still time. Your Dad did it! It’s nice that you still go there to remember him. I’ll bet he spent many hours gazing at the water. Just pondering, as we say down south.


  6. Those are wonderful photos. I desperately want to be on a beach right now but will have to wait until the weekend. I thinks there’s no better place to chill than with the sea and beach in view.


  7. Your photos are wonderful, you have been to some great places in the world. The two Jekyll island photos are lovely. The colour of the water at Bora Bora is like the colour I saw travelling down the Florida Keys. Incredible. I live only 20 minutes from several beaches, but they are so popular now that I rarely visit. I must change that as a beach is my happy place.


  8. I’m with you about the power of water. I grew up in a province with over a quarter million lakes and my summers were always spent on the water, in the water, under the water…My last name even means “of the water”.
    Beautiful post and photos. Thank you for sharing,



    1. Beautifully written, Suzanne. I think there’s a high percentage of travellers who get great pleasure in being on the coast – it doubles up the great views with a sense of peacefulness. Of course, being able to see a long way is always a calming and relaxing feeling, but as well as that just gazing out across the sea, so powerful yet so calming, is something which goes right into the soul.


  9. I have always lived just a few miles from the coast and can’t imagine not having the ocean close by. I always look forward to mid-September when the tourists go home and the kids go back to school and I, and other locals, can reclaim the beaches.

    Your words – and photos – beautifully capture the joys of solitude.


  10. I learned to swim in a clear as glass, cold as ice, brook near my grandparents’ farm in the NH mountains. Good memories. 🙂 I was an only child so I can be alone. I garden a couple of hours every morning, just me and the plants. 🙂 Spending winters on the beach is like having my mind and soul washed as the tide goes in and out. I don’t have photos from exotic places but I do know the feeling. 🙂


  11. Hi, Suzanne – Your beach photos are beautiful…and instantly calming! I am also a big believer in Quiet Time. When I don’t get enough QT it instantly affects me physically, mentally and emotionally. Like you, I am grateful to live very close to a beautiful beach (less than a 20 minute walk away). I love it all year long, but especially love its more seculded time in autumn and winter!


  12. Suzanne,
    The color, clarity, and blue hues of your pictures are awesome. Additionally, the term “just being” is a powerful way to describe relaxation when it’s very good. Helen and I were fortunate to live on the banks of the Tennessee River for 13 years, and I spent hours just gazing at the river flowing south. Now, I go into our mountains, sit by a stream, and “just be me.” Enjoyed this very much. Joe


  13. Those first two paragraphs…..beautifully written and what a perfect set up for the photos. A friend just returned from a week in Jeckyl Island and I told her I was familiar with it from your blogs. She was not disappointed. Maybe one day. Quiet beaches and walks in the woods are what bring me peace.


    1. Hi Tracey, thank you for the compliment. Those childhood memories and flipping through some old photo albums prompted the post. I have literally thousands of shots of water.

      We don’t go to Jekyll in the summer because the weather is too much like what we are experiencing in South Florida, hot and humid. In February, it feels more like Fall and we enjoy the cooler temperatures. I hope your friend felt the magic.


  14. Beautiful places, photos, and contemplations, Suzanne. As you might have gathered, my happy place has to be quiet and uncrowded. Quiet as in from human distractions and presence. The lapping waves or rushing stream produce sounds if love to listen and sleep to.

    Some beaches are magical – mostly because their stunning beauty, setting, or the realization of watching the earth’s forces and repetitiveness. Since shade is important to us, this means long exposures to most beaches are impossible, but I do love them as well. Yet, anywhere in nature (as long as I’m comfortable heat and bug wise) suits my taste for living in the moment.


    1. Liesbet, the thing about a ‘happy place’ is that when too many people discover it, the benefit is lost. I am early morning, and late afternoon beach goer, as it is not about the sun for me i.e. no crowds. I can imagine that is similar to why you like remote, off-the-beaten-path places to live each leg of your life journey. It isn’t about the ‘attraction’ but rather the solitude of the place. Do you ever reach a point of too much quiet?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. When it comes to being in nature, I never reach that point of too much quiet. But when I haven’t socialized in a while (probably after a couple of weeks), I get antsy about meeting new people or hanging out with friends or likeminded travelers for one evening. It’s all about the right balance. In general, Mark and I prefer to be on our own, but having fun with people once in a while is important, too.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. This is so beautifully written, Suzanne. And your photographs are gorgeous. I find that being almost anywhere in nature is restorative…the mountains, desert, and coast all bring me a sense of joy and wellbeing. And, of course, I have a very deep soul-connection to the beautiful Gulf coast of the Florida panhandle. When we’re at home, all ll I have to do is to look out at the bay and I feel at peace.


    1. Laurel, thank you for the compliment. I love it when the words just write themselves. I have never seen a desert, but I can imagine it would have a similar effect. It is evident by your travels that you favor quiet, contemplative environments. No surprise there. It’s nice to know that the panhandle has gotten under your skin. 🙂 It kinda does that…


  16. Suzanne, Your beach photos are stunning. I feel relaxed just by viewing them. I make time to be with nature almost every day. In Toronto, it’s Lake Ontario and city’s parks. When I travel, I try to have a balance of urban explorations and nature.


  17. Lovely photos and a lovely post! There are several places I like to go to settle my mind and soothe my spirit, but I’d like to share two of my absolute favorite places. Sitting along any water source – just quietly listening to the sound of the water as it glides over rocks or laps onto the shoreline – washes over me and cleanses me of any stress or anxiety. My other favorite place is my own backyard. Sitting outside any time of the day just fills me with such happiness and serenity anywhere I look – the trees, the flowers, the plants, even the grills and patio furniture give me a sense of steadiness and contentment.


    1. I love that you find refuge in your own backyard. Familiar things are calming to me as well. Like you, I am not restricted to oceans and find any water source relaxing. I especially love waterfalls and mountain streams. Thanks for contributing to the conversation and best wishes for a good week.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. It was interesting reading (and seeing) your love of the beach. I’ve never been a huge beach fan, but my husband is, so I’ve learned to appreciate it! I did realize that for me, it’s sunshine. I need blue skies and sunshine. It can be cold and mountains or warm and the beach, indoors looking out or outdoors in nature, but it’s blue sky & sun that are my happy place, that soothe my soul. Luckily, I’m in a place that has lots of sunshine and blue skies. And yeah, a beach, too.


  19. Pat, you have definitely retired in the right place to get plenty of blue skies and sunshine. I’ve always called sunshine my Prozak. Too many gray days and I get a bit off-kilter. Thankfully, we never have more than two or three in a row. Glad you are becoming fond of the beach.


  20. What wonderful pictures, and I “second that emotion” the beauty and call of the beach, maybe it i s more of a pull and a lure. Your writing is as profound as the pictures are beautiful. Well written, one beach girl to another. Blessings, Michele

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Gorgeous photos :-). I wasn’t brought up around water and was made to fear it. What a pity as that fear stayed with me for so long (still can’t swim). I recently spent a week at the seaside and went to the beach daily. I didn’t hate it. I do prefer a quiet room though.


    1. Kem, I have known a few adults who can’t swim, for the very same reason, Negative associations are powerful and sometimes follow us through life. Breaking the cycle is not easy, but ‘not hating it’ is a good thing!. I love a quiet room too. Thanks for stopping by.


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