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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.