Local Walks: North Beach

Endless gray-green silk, swirling, swerving, circling waters.

The lapping of long, shallow waves, a heavy, dull sky above, sand collapsing underfoot.

Bundled in fleece and a long, soft scarf wrapped twice around my neck, I follow the easy hemline of the shore, delighting in the smooth expanse of khaki-colored sand, tide-scattered stones, and giant logs that look like they’re made for clambering.

 

1. North Beach, Deception Pass State Park, seen from the Deception Pass bridge.

 

It’s December. Tourists are just a memory, and right now, no boats fight the channel’s racing currents. A solitary loon fishes in the deeper water while mergansers keep company with golden-eyes and grebes closer in. A seal raises its head just long enough to satisfy curiosity, then sinks back down into the gray-green water.

Aloneness prevails, delicious aloneness….

 

2. Smooth rocks and colored sand reveal what gravity and water working together can do.


3. Looking down at the rock and log-strewn beach from the woodland trail.

4. The tides toss colorful stones onto worn driftwood logs, only to scatter them all over again.

5. December’s rain and mild temperatures are kind to living things, and tiny seedlings are popping up, even at this dark time of year.

Then March: a long month of rain and overcast skies. The first brilliant blooms of spring appear on the woodland trail that follows the shoreline.

 

6. Red-flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum) in flower, late March.

7. At the edge of the beach Siberian Spring beauty (Claytonia siberica) opens its delicate, five-petaled flowers.

 

On this Friday afternoon a few days into Spring, people are eager to get outdoors, even if the air feels cool and damp. I see two hikers ahead scrambling over the rocks. Theirs is the quiet joy of an older couple, people who have seen many seasons pass and still feel them deeply.

 

8. When the tide is in, a walk along North Beach requires that you climb over the rocky headlands or retreat into the woods.

9.
10. The stories these rocks hold stories probably go back 150 million years.

11. Water, sand, rock, and wood are continuously changing, morphing into new forms and shuffling places.

***

May first. Under cerulean skies, a loon in bold breeding plumage forages in the channel, and I can tell that someone enjoyed themselves on this beach over the weekend.

 

12. A carefully constructed Calder-esque driftwood sculpture commands space on the beach today, but it is as temporary as the tides.

                                                                

***

June. Clouds fill the sky, quickly give way to intense sunlight, then scoot back again. The sand is littered with footprints: human, canine, deer, crab. I start my walk at the west end of the beach, dodging waves and gratefully inhaling the fresh, clean air. Soon I’m focused on rocks – from shiny pebbles to a looming, dark cliff, their dense forms and subtle colors rivet me. Some are rough and riddled with fracture lines, others are polished smooth as an egg. So many different shapes, such power and strength, and yet the rocks are always changing, as water and weather have their way. The sculptural shapes and flat backgrounds lend themselves to playful processing – infrared, layers of different types of exposures, bold contrasts, delicate tones. The variety I reveled in at the beach has followed me home.

 

 

13. Most of the land visible from this beach is protected. Where there are houses, they mostly sit back and blend in, so the open view that our eyes and souls so badly need is preserved.

14. North Beach Rock, 1

15. North Beach Rock, 2


16. North Beach Rock, 3


17. North Beach Rock, 4


18. North Beach Rock, 5


19. North Beach Rock, 6


20.
                                                             

By the end of the afternoon the clouds have thickened, but the atmospheric unrest lingers in a procession of small clouds suspended over the Salish Sea. The Pacific Ocean lies far to the west, but its vastness is felt even here, in the salty taste of the water and the ceaseless permutations of tides and weather systems.

                                                                     *

This is part of a series called “Local Walks” that describes and pictures just that – walks I have taken that aren’t far from home. This time I included photographs from four walks across three seasons in one location. Stay tuned to see where I wander next.

 


61 comments

  1. What a delightful walk, full of delights, photos and writing, pure silk all the way through. I could look at the tiny seedlings in #5, and the wonderful composition, a long time. And 16 & 17 are pretty nifty! The pebbles in 16 really pop, and whatever processing spells you’ve cast on 17, it looks like something is just about to happen, a neat weirdness to the atmosphere – – maybe the scene in the sci-fi movie, where the voyagers realize the things that look like whitish pebbles, are actually sentient lifeforms, about to begin moving about, very cool. And 18 is just such a great, bold poster, with the massive diagonals, deep sky, snowy white cloud. Thanks for the treats, hope you have a great weekend, Lynn.

    Liked by 3 people

    • It’s always a pleasure to hear your thoughts….your takes on the posts always surprise me. Yes, the pebbles could be sentient, and I liked the way they seemed to float, to take on a very different presence. Those two pics were taken with my phone, a not-so-fancy Motorola, then processed in Lightroom & Color Efex, where I played around with the various infrared choices (there are color & black and white choices and you can vary the strength, etc). Then I played with things like the texture slider, the tone curve, selective darkening with the radial filter, etc. in Lightroom. Fun! #18 was made with my “real” camera but didn’t come to life until – once again – I used a color infrared filter in Color Efex. I’m glad you consider these treats, that’s gotta be a good thing. Have a chill weekend yourself! 😉

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  2. Oh my, Lynn. You’ve outdone yourself, again. Your words are so considered, so “just right.” And the photographs are a delight. The ones of rocks and sand in #s 2, 14, and 15 have a serene simplicity. Sometimes it’s hard to make a photograph looking down or up look like it’s looking down or up, but you have managed it well in #s 1 and 3. I like the framing of #4; it shows just the right amount of driftwood. As usual, I admire your depth of field and bokeh in #6 in it’s fine composition. I like the abstract composition in #10; and that orange! It must be iron oxide of some kind. The driftwood in #11 makes me think of a Georgia O’Keefe cow skull; it goes well with the stones here. What a weird, interesting, and aesthetically pleasing look you’ve attained in #17. Could you say something more about that photo? Your #20 is the perfect ending photograph. Those clouds and the colors are just beautiful. Thank you for another wonderful trip through your mind and surroundings.

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    • Thank you Linda! And please don’t feel that you need to go to such lengths…. 🙂 #14 & 15 were done with a new (to me) 17mm lens (which would be the equivalent of a 35mm) wider than I often work with. Any time you like the framing or composition I’m happy – you’re a master at that. Sometimes I think, “How would Linda frame this?” while I shoot. 🙂 I should have explained in the caption that the splashes of orange are actually lichens. And they’re intense. Lots of rocks near water here have that lichen growing on them. #11 – that occurred to me too. See my reply to Robert above re #17. I don’t think you ever use Color Efex, right? It can be a great place to start from if you want to do something different. Thanks again for taking the time to consider what you see, and to share your thoughts.

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    • You never know what might come of a phone photo taken at the end of your walk….and when you get home it doesn’t look too good, but weeks later, you send it over to Color Efex Pro, zap it with an infrared filter, send it back to Lightroom and play around some more, and it comes to life. I’m glad you were mesmerized. 😉 Thank you.

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  3. so much to like in this post – loved reading your observations and commentary –
    “Theirs is the quiet joy of an older couple, people who have seen many seasons pass and still feel them deeply.” –
    – the pictures were a real bonus

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  4. Hi Lynn, lovely pics, and I love “Aloneness prevails, delicious aloneness….” – yes, and sometimes a real luxury in this overcrowded world. I like 4, 5, 7, 8 and 17 here, but 2 and 20 are ohhh!!!!! A 🙂

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  5. Regarding #4: when I see stones on top of other objects I often wonder whether they ended up there naturally or whether people (or perhaps animals) put them there. Sometimes it’s obviously the work of people, but at other times we’re hard pressed to say for sure, given the sometimes surprising forces that nature wields.

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    • In this case, I’m quite sure no person piled those pebbles – but I know what you mean. People do place stones and make cairns, but around here the tidal surge can be very powerful, and it’s usually easy to see the difference.

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  6. Very poetic words Lynn, describing the wonderful and loved nature with pictures that look very ruminant! (I wanted to say meditative, but it seems to be the wrong word). Nr. 2 seems to be pure zen. Looking at this pictures is so relaxing. I love the pebbles, the softly shaped wood, the fascinating rocks, the ocean with this open sky! And I agree with your words: the open view that we need so badly! So true. The different structures of this area are always a delight and inspiring. Some of the pictures look like fine art: nr. 14 till 17 are like finished paintings, and I like nr. 11 – the contrast between stone and wood, soft and hard, the different shapes (nature is the best artist of all) – and the last one, the clouds above the horizon, which is so reduced, is wonderful too! Pure joy! Thank you!

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    • 🙂 I like ruminant, but typically one would use meditative, and leave rumination to more anxious situations, or to the cows. 😉 I’m glad the photos convey the relaxing feeling – being around water like that is always deeply relaxing, isn’t it? And I know I’m lucky to have found an affordable place to live here, where big, open skies can be seen any time you go to the shoreline. I love hearing you say a few of these look like paintings, too, thank you. There are so many little scenes like the one in #11, I wish you could walk along this beach, you’d love it. Thank you so much, Almuth. 🙂

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  7. What a wonderful and interesting series of images, Lynn. I love the punch I get from #9 & #10. The simplicity of #29 i striking. But if I had to pick a favorite, it would be (drum roll, please) # 2 and # 15. I am allowed 2 favorites, aren’t I???

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    • You’re allowed beaucoup favs, Ken. 😉 It’s a beautiful stretch of beach, and happily, it’s not the one people prefer so there are often hardly any people around, other than the height of summer. I’m happy that you notice #15. It’s very quiet and I was thinking it would not be noticed amidst all the others, but I was happy with it. (And if anyone would notice, it would be you). Those rocks, that sand! So many possibilities!

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  8. How glad I am that you like walking so much, for where would the beautiful photos and tales come from otherwise? As I won’t go to the seaside this year, your post full of poetry in text and pictures gives me consolation. It is almost like walking by your side.
    In this series, I love the less colourful pictures most – and every single photo which carries stones.
    How good that the walks are being continued!

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  9. A marvelous walk through the seasons, Lynn. Many great images- North Beach Rock 4 is fascinating (all the rock studies are special), the rocks and colored sand is gorgeous and the couple walking on the rocks felt like home to me. Wonderful post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m going to keep doing “Local Walks” posts – that and the “Just One” (i.e. species) posts and travel posts might keep me better organized. 😉
      I do love the rocks I find on the beach – rocks everywhere are so interesting – but water-worn ones can be especially photogenic. I thought of you when I included the couple walking on the beach, in fact, I think I thought of you when I took the photo. 🙂 You’ve inspired me, or shown me a way to include people in the landscape that feels right. Thank you for that. And they were in the right place at the right time.;-) Thanks for your comment!

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