Low Tide

I hadn’t planned to go to the beach; I didn’t know the tide was going out. I thought I might walk along a trail in Deception Pass State Park that wanders through the forest and along the shoreline. With the sun hanging low in the southwest, North Beach was looking chilly though, no sun there! I parked and considered my options. Steps away from the car, there’s a point of land where sunny West beach swings around a corner and takes a different name: North Beach. I hadn’t explored West Point (imaginative names!) because I’d been there at higher tides, when the water was high up on the rocks. Now as I looked down, the receding water revealed a wealth of complex shapes where the rugged promontory is wearing away bit by bit, as water works its infinitely patient way through rock.

Little sand-filled coves were strewn with smooth round stones, as green as moss, as orange as the sunset, as white as snow and as pretty as could be. Crags of ink-black rocks streaked with white rose from the water in a multitude of crenelated shapes. Smooth gray rocks were covered with softly delineated streaks from evaporating water that lingered in the crevices.

I scrambled down and picked my way through the intricate contours of rock and sand, waiting when necessary for an outgoing wave to jump across narrow rivulets. In one sheltered cove, the logs which had floated up on high tides and jammed behind the rocks were still white with frost on this sunny afternoon. I felt a dank chill there and the air smelled sharp with minerals. Off shore, two seals relaxed and let the swift tide carry them out of the pass. Hundreds of sea birds, too far out to identify, churned the air, their feet clapping the water as they struggled to take off.Β  An eagle flew low over the water’s surface, weighed down by a big catch, probably a sea duck. A second eagle followed close behind, then they vanished behind a forest-topped island.

What could be better than losing myself in this wonderland?

 

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As the sun began to set, people gravitated to West Beach to watch, cell phones in hand. Thirty miles to the southwest the Olympic Mountains were silhouetted against a nacreous sky like a strip of torn construction paper. Gulls stood solemnly on rocks warmed with orange sunlight, and the glassy water barely shimmered as the current quieted. Low tide, sunset.

 

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One last picture, with the phone…

 

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And,

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Your photographer

 

***

A google earth image of this location which appears to have been taken in summer during a very low tide is here.Β  Zoom in and you’ll see these rocks and the log-jammed cove, where someone may be sitting under a blue umbrella. The coordinates are N48.39Β  W122.66.

If anyone can tell me what the rocks I photographed are, I’d love to know.

And the colored sand, (#7 & #8) why is it arranged in those patterns, and what about those fine lines? Could it be that these are different kinds of finely crushed rocks with different magnetic charges, and when the waves wash the particles up, they fall into place relative to each another, something like iron filings around a magnet? That was the guess of one smart person I know. Or are some rock particles heavier, so they remain on the shore sooner or later than others do? There’s so much we don’t know.


93 comments

    • Thanks – I should have been more specific – there may be granite there but I’m wondering what the black rocks with white streaks are, and I don’t think they’re granite. Anyway, I’m happy the photos inspired you to check out that “other” West beach, which I didn’t know about. πŸ™‚ And guess what – yesterday we went to Langley and an orca pod came up Saratoga Passage. Someone on the street told us and we got there just in time to see them in the far distance – my first sighting of orcas! πŸ™‚

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      • In past, we would see them frequently from Clinton shoreline heading north along the east side of Whidbey. One of those treasured sightings, we saw several breaching from the water in an area well known for salmon fishing. From where I was standing I thought they were salmon jumping above the surface of the water then realized they were too large.

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    • I think rocks are hard to identify for the layman. It was great to be able to walk around there, but now the lowest tides are at night, so I have to wait a while before they’re at the right time again. We get a second low tide these days that’s hardly low at all. The tides are complex here!

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  1. Oh Lynn… a quick scroll through this post brought a delightful sigh out of me. This is the sort of meandering I love so much! I will have to return to savor this again when I’m a bit less groggy! Thank you for this moment!

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    • 12- I love the lighting in this one as it sucks your eye, over the hovering fog (?), out to the island (?) in the distance. I’ll have to check the coordinates to get an idea what you’re looking at… I’m so plugged into looking out at horizon across the water. πŸ˜‰
      10 & 11… I’ve often wondered about those paintings in the sand. We have them down here, too.
      3- is marvelous. is that the actual color? or one you played with? It’s just so… vivid. not that it really matters.
      6- much like the rocks we find along the river here… polished by bouncing against each other. The feather is a very nice touch. it’s about contrasts from the hard to the soft elements and colors.
      I don’t know that I have any answers, but they’re all quite beautiful- with or without the answers.

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      • Thank you for the detailed reply, Gunta, I do love reading about your reactions. In #12 it may not have been fog, I think it was just very bright out there. It’s really tricky to know what you’re looking at here, but in #12 it’s probably the San Juan Islands in the distance. Do click on the link later in the post for a map,scroll out and you’ll know where you are. We have to find out about the “paintings!” Sometimes they are so subtle and beautiful. In #6 I’m happy to say I didn’t touch anything. Found as is. πŸ˜‰

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  2. Every photo perfectly composed. Such simple elegant designs. They are all my favourites. Some are like abstract art. And Of course who doesn’t love a sunset, especially a glorious PNW sunset. What a little treasure you found.
    Alison

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    • Simple and elegant – that’s exactly what I love about rocks like these, and at the same time, there’s loads of intricate detail. They’re sensuous, right? The sunset is always pretty there. At this time of year there aren’t many people there, so the atmosphere is nice, more camaraderie than irritation. I think you know exactly what I mean, Alison. πŸ˜‰

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  3. I can’t really answer any of the questions about the rocks but I can say that I really enjoy these photos. When I look at many of them they strike me as beautiful abstract shapes and tones and not rocks at all…kind of Minor Whitish πŸ™‚

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    • I’m happy to aspire to that, Howard! My usual subject matter in the woods around here is so crowded and complex. It was refreshing to photograph these shapes and I can’t wait to go back for more. Lowest tides are at night now so I have to wait….

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  4. These are unique and stunning photos! Only an artist like you would think of going down near the water to reveal the rocks in all their splendor and geological mysteries. Some of the small ones like in images 6 and 7 could be polished in a rock tumbling machines to make beautiful ornaments.

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    • You are too kind, Hien, really. I appreciate it. You can believe that I have picked up rocks like the ones you’re talking about from time to time – they are irresistible. Apparently there are agates on some beaches here but I haven’t learned how to recognize them. These are beautiful enough for me though!

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  5. Lynn, love “as water works its infinitely patient way through rock.”, so well put! Like all Nature, it is remorseless, it never stops! And love the selfie >>> but you should do a REAL one as I, for one, have no idea at all what you look like! The rocks with all the white veins look very old, and I would guess they are metamorphic (goggle it!). Yes, heavier particles suspended in water will be dropped first. The stand out image here for me is 8 – ohhhhhhhhhh!!!!!! But I also like 1, 9, 13, 14, 15, 18 (the solitary figure!), 19, 20 (another car photographer!!!!!!). A πŸ™‚

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    • I don’t know about that “real” selfie….I haven’t let go of vanity enough. #8 seems like a photo you would make, with the deep shadows and all. I used the vintage Takumar 50mm lens there, and I used it for the shadow self and for #9. Your classic film appreciation is showing, even though these obviously aren’t film, but the look is there, just a bit. I’m glad you singled out 13-15 because I was happy with those…I had switched to a non-vintage lens, a 20mm Olympus, but like 35-40mm on a “normal” camera. What’s a normal camera these days? That concept is fast eroding, if not already defunct. And the first photo was done with my phone….
      I remember igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic, and metamorphic makes sense, but wish I could get more information on these rocks. I’ll find it eventually. There was lots of volcanic activity here (still is; a big eruption in 1980, but that was over 200 mi away). And I sense there may be something more to those amazing sand patterns than just the weight of the particles and wave action, but I guess that could explain it all. Thanks Adrian!

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      • Well, for me, at my age, I have forgotten vanity. I am what I am, and I’m happy to be so. Re geology: there ought to be government geological maps of your area; and regional geological guides (as there are here); and maybe local geological clubs too. Be careful not to read to much into the sand patterns unless you’re on a hippy trip(!!!) – oh dear, that’s my geological side speaking!!! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

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      • Thanks Adrian, I found governmental geologic maps, and guess what – they don’t cover that beach. Aargh! There’s one for the other side of the island and further south, but not for that point of land. 😦

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  6. Good to see that you had a good time on that beach! fine series; my fav is nr14, where the B&W connects the ‘different worlds’, and brings a certain mood; in 10/11 for instance, the rocks and the sand (that almost acts like water; most likely because it was arranged by water..) are almost different worlds that try to deny each other. See you..

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    • I did have a good time, thank you Harrie. πŸ™‚ Your reading of #14 is very interesting. Rock and water, seemingly so different but connected via sand, like sand is an intermediary between the two worlds. Yes, thank you! And have a great weekend.

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  7. Justin and I are not beach people, but we absolutely love them off-season. I used to walk along the beach with my dad — I’d look for shells while he’d look for rocks — and these pictures remind me of those times. I’m particularly fond of #3, but I can’t find fault with a good sunset pic!

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    • Same here for sure. Beaches are harsh environments in any case, and with crowds, ugh. But dip in off season and it’s magic. There’s nothing so nourishing as that continuous wave action in the background. How nice that these reminded you of those walks, they sound lovely. I’m glad you like #3 – the colors were so cool….that warm buttery gold against the cold, blue-gray rock, and then those bits of green – algae I think. I can’t wait to go back but I have to….lowest tides are at night now. Enjoy your weekend!

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  8. What a wonderful day of shooting you had! Again, it’s hard to pick a favorite but, after due consideration, I’ll pick #8 and #9. With everything frozen over, I do miss the open water so shots like #19 are greatly appreciated.

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    • I did have fun, Ken, and I can’t wait to return. Most days, I don’t find this kind of attractive sculptural simplicity outdoors – the green environment is far too complex. I think you can imagine what I’m talking about. The two photos you mention were made with the old Takumar 50mm f1.4. I don’t think that water in #19 would ever freeze – it’s connected (a long, straight shot) to the ocean. We actually have a possibility of snow – just a bit – on Monday. And temps well below freezing next week, so maybe I can find some nice frost. But I’ve become a wimp when it comes to the cold so I won’t last long! Thanks Ken, have a great weekend.

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  9. I was delighted to see there was a post from you – I’m lying in bed having hurt my back doing nothing in particular and these beautiful images transported me away to this wonderful beach. It’s just the sort of place that I would love to wander, and so that’s what I was able to do while lying flat on my back! I’m going to drift off to sleep for a while with the image of blue rocks and coloured sand…… thank you for another lovely post.

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  10. i too love being on the beach at low tide – so much is revealed: patterns, colours, textures, flotsam and jetsam etc – and you have captured the sense of place beautifully.
    (Coincidentally, my current post is also titled Low Tide!)

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    • Great minds, Louis, great minds… ‘-) I can’t wait to go back, as I keep saying, but the tides are odd here, with one low tide being hardly low at all, and the real low tide being at night now. But as you know well, these phenomena are all temporary, and when the tide allows me to explore that spot again, I bet it will look quite different.

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  11. You have the gift (by now a cultivated gift) of observing intelligently even those phenomena you do not fully understand. (Cf. all your questions at the end.) It’s an on-going reminder that we do not need full knowledge in order to appreciate, and to value. Like you, I love the magic of lingering hoar frost. And, like you, I often find I plan one thing, but … whoosh! … something else unfolds instead. Thanks for taking us with you on this particular episode of unplanned magic.

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    • Really? Well, since it’s true that there’s a lot I/we don’t understand, I guess we need to observe intelligently. πŸ˜‰ Thank you! No, we absolutely don’t need the science to appreciate life around us, but wanting to know keeps us going, doesn’t it? Your spontaneity is eminently clear in your writing, and I wish you another week of unplanned magic, Penny, bring it on! (Vancouver’s on hold but maybe soon – I’ll let know).

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      • I think we need a starting point, a starting direction, for a walk – just to get us pointed one way vs. another — but then should be happily open to “distractions.” Dance with the day, rather than dictate to it…

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  12. What a fantastic place to discover! Oh, that first photograph! I love your arrangement of the big rocks, small stones, and sand in various depths and shades of grey. It’s as if the big rocks are cradling the small stones, making the stones appear more precious than the magnificent rocks. But the rocks are just being modest; they are just as wonderful even if their color doesn’t have as much variety. I also loveβ€”in the second photoβ€”how you’ve allowed the dark places to stay dark. The sun on the edge of the rock is so mellow, so lovely. The third photo is also very dark in places, which, aside from its own beauty, helps make the rock that is in more light stand out in colorful grandeur. As you have rendered them, these rocks are sculptures and their arrangements art installations. Nuumbers 4, 8, 10, 11, 14, 15, and 16 hold similar appeal for me. I like the abstractness of #9 and #13. The patterns and colors of the sand, which show up most in #11 are amazing; so glad you paid special attention to them. Jessica Winder’s blog may give some clues about the origin of the patterns even though she’s talking about ripple patterns in sand. Another spectacular collection, Lynn, including the car and the selfie.

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      • OK, I’m going to look into that later…it’s an annoyance that you can’t play with the font to make a link obvious in comments, so thank you for letting me know.

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    • It’s more magical, knowing that this place is often under water. Your comment about #2 is interesting because I’ve been consciously trying to do exactly that – let the dark places stay dark. I like the way you put it. Maybe it has become easier to do that, at this time of year, but whatever the cause, it’s another step forward. Sculptures and installations is the way I see so I’m happy that gets across. I was going for more abstract here too, because I could. It’s something I want to do more but I think I need subjects like these to do it, and they don’t come easily here. It would be easier in the desert. Thank you Linda, I value your comments very much.

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    • It does! And I didn’t have to move any debris or signs of humans out of the way when I photographed that feather, which is wonderful. Since moving here from NY, I’ve been very impressed with how clean the beaches are. Thanks Otto!

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  13. Low tide walks are always treasure hunts, in a way – and you found plenty of treasures. I envy you for the many spots with pristine and untouched sand! (in the warm climates of Southern California, the beaches are always busy and to find such conditions, one has to be out early when the tide goes out in the morning.)

    I found #1 and #13 really attractive (not to say that the others are weak, just a personal choice of course). πŸ™‚

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    • Treasure hunts, exactly. I just said to Otto, above, that I’ve been pleased by the lack of human waste on the beaches here, compared to the east coast. As you know, there are just far fewer people up here than in California, and even though Deception Pass is a well-loved park, it’s possible to find untrodden sand. But you do have to be there just as the tide’s going out. The tides are not as uniform or predictable here, I think because we’re so far from the ocean – the water is traveling a long way before it hits these shores. Thank you, Alex!

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  14. I love low-tides and all the details it offers to our sensibility, look, smell…
    So I love your post!
    It remember me one that I published in 2016 about stones and earth textures, with photos from our Vicentina Cost, a place I think I’ve already told you in a comment some time ago. The link is under, if you want to see it.
    I wish you a peaceful week!

    https://discretamente.wordpress.com/2016/08/27/a-pele-do-planeta/

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  15. The dark grey rocks with white veining are my favorites: especially numbers 4 and 8, but really all. I collected a boxful of the same sort at the mouth of the Russian River, and now they’re scattered around the house. I’ve never been sure exactly what they are, but I made another try at identification today, and think they may be worn remnants of the inner cores of Birchi Nodules. The white apparently is calcite. If you look at the link, be sure and click once more and look at the link to the Septarian Nodules at Ringstead.

    I’ve found other parallels between Britain and the U.S., such as the chalk cliffs at Dover and Monument Rocks in Kansas, so it may very well be that those British rocks are a parallel to the ones you’ve photographed here.

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    • Well, maybe it’s still a mystery…I checked the links, thank you. The patterns on those rocks look different to me, and from what I understand, which is very little! the West coast is different rock from what’s on the other side of the Rockies. There are lots of volcanic rocks. The rocks at this beach have white lines (still could be calcite) that tend to run loosely parallel, and don’t intersect to make those cool hexagonal shapes. . But really, i don’t know what I’m talking about. If I find out, I’ll let you know. πŸ˜‰

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      • Whatever caused them, they’re beautiful. One of the sources I read affirmed your point — different geological processes in different places — but also said that “conglomerations” could result from quite different kinds of rock. It’s mysterious to me, too, but I just can’t keep myself from trying to figure these things out!

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  16. Strangely enough, after looking through all those images the one that stuck with me is from your opening paragraph – the smell of minerals. It brought memories of ocean shores with the smell of sea air and iodine, of salt and kelp and wet rocks. As for the rocks, I can make uninformed guesses with the best of them, and my first uninformed guess was basalt and quartz. Based on that I looked up the combination and found something that looks similar: https://www.alamy.com/stock-photo/basalt-quartz-veins.html. I don’t know if that’s what you’ve got, but it’s my best guess.

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    • I love that you connected with the scent, and with all your diving experience, it makes sense that you would. Thank you for the rock ID suggestion. There’s a lot of basalt, i know that. Those photos look very similar to the ones I saw. I think you’re right.

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  17. Your description at the beginning is such a nice introduction to your photos. I love your description of nature, the landscape, and how you felt about it! Beautiful pictures! The patterns of stones and sand and the water are wonderful and I am glad you shared them with us! Always an amazing world of its own, the sea and the coast. The sunset is beautiful too. Love the picture of the carwindow πŸ™‚ Funny, I wonder how often sunsets have the shape of a triangle?

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    • Thanks so much, Almuth. I’m sorry I can’t read what you write about your experiences with nature, but maybe your feelings are similar to mine. There are so many sunset photos that I hesitated to put one here, but I guess it was OK. πŸ˜‰ Thank you for being here!!

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      • Sunsets never get boring. Everyone is unique and yours were beautiful! I liked your description because of the narrative style. It was a bit like in a tale or narration, more poetic (difficult to explain). That made it so special to me. Thank you!

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  18. I read your description before seeing any images and was transported there. So well written! Then I looked at the first image and was mesmerized – by the first 4 especially. I think you may have another very special set of six in this batch. Absolutely gorgeously captivating.

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  19. Pingback: Impatient as the Passing Waves – TheGuern

    • Thanks so much, Marcus, I appreciate that. The first photo and the car window reflection are phone shots – just a Motorola, nothing special. All the rest are the OM-D EM-1, most with the Lumix 20mm f1.7. For #8 & #9 and the shadow selfie at the end, I used a vintage lens, a Super Takumar 50mm f1.4. I like to take that one out sometimes and see what happens.

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  20. Hi Lynn, Wonderful low tide images. I lingered over 6 and 7 with their rich colors and patterns and then was completely absorbed in your monochrome images of the rocks. Excellent tones and textures. A great meditation to start my day.

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    • You may be talking about #14 & #15, which did turn out as well as I might have hoped. Ah, it was so much fun to be able to focus on those simple, sculptural shapes! Today there is another good low tide during daylight hours, but I have to go somewhere and may not make it….we have to wait a long time here, the tides are strange. Thanks Jane!

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  21. I don’t get to the shore nearly as much as I ought, but these remind me of my trips to Acadia in Maine and all the cobbles I get to see on a couple of beaches there. Who doesn’t love smooth and colorful rocks worn by time and the tides? I suppose there are many, but most of the folks I know enjoy them and you’ve put together some lovely compositions. I also like the large rocks with the light color intrusions. Just a nice collection of interesting and beautiful images, Lynn. We are going to Acadia later this year and you’ve really made me eager to go…not that I need encouragement. πŸ˜€

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    • It does seem a bit like Maine, doesn’t it? The actual ocean is really far from here but this location has a real ocean shore feeling, and it’s salt water. You’re right about people loving the tides, the beach, the rocks….I see people walking the wrack line, bending down to pick something up, all the time. But not too many people. πŸ™‚ That’s so cool to hear that these images made you even more eager to get to Acadia. Thank you!

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    • Well, #6 was one of those little gifts, and I didn’t even adjust the feather. πŸ™‚ The rocks do have beautiful colors here….thank you Denise, I’m glad you enjoyed the photographs. I certainly enjoyed making them! πŸ™‚

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  22. It’s always wonderful to take a little cyber trip to your world, to peer through your eyes and enjoy what you present to us. Some people could walk along quiet beach and be lonely – or bored, but if they were with you, they’d discover lots of treasures literally under their feet!

    You have a gift, dear Amiga!

    As always, I will wait until I’m home to enjoy the images and your equally-talented writings!

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