Wednesday, August 27, 2008

cliffs by the bay

Now plastic garbage is on every beach in the world. 
This is why we now use cloth shopping bags.

I got a surprise gift for Keith's and my own birthday. It was a trip to the amazing cliff house where we spent a couple days with Dan Vera the poet. Dan Vera who is finally getting his first book of poems published after years of writing and editing and being a very creative guy. He took me to the cliff house once before,  right after he & Peter first visited, because they had left a bag of tomatoes on the kitchen counter that they didn't want to leave behind to rot and greet the owner on her next visit.  I had a one hour visit and tour of the beach and cliff house to collect those vegetables. I instantly fell in love with the place and dreamed of staying there some day but it seemed unlikely because it was a house on loan to Peter by a coworker. Now a year or two after that visit I got my chance and we jumped at once planning and packing. It is very hard to show you what this house looks like because it is set in the woods on the edge of a 100 foot precipice that is surrounded by shrubs and trees and bushes and vines. The long wall of windows are truly Bay windows looking from on high over the vast Chesapeake bay. The house is full of interesting furniture and artworks that relate in some way to the bay or sailing or nautical things and has been put together with style and good taste. We took long walks on the edge of the Chesapeake bay beach at the foot of the cliffs. This is a place where nature is all around and scientists discovered ancient fossils in the bank of clay cliffs back in the 1930's and built a log cabin there to come and study them now it is a visitors center and museum. Around this cabin a little community of houses sprung up and developed into a very fine retreat only one hour's drive or 45 miles from downtown Washington, DC. I was happy to have this time there with Dan and Keith and Rufus the black dog who is so sociable and friendly. Keith made flower arrangements and I made photos of butterflies and a wasp, sky and bay and cliffs and trees. My favorite Bay laurel was everywhere along the edges of the cliffs. The scent is one of my favorites and these bushes were very aromatic with only a few berries showing. 
We had fun cooking with Dan and the big kitchen that was fully stocked and outfitted with some fine cooking tools and dishes to dine upon. All in all it was a devilishly good time. I was delighted to discover the sky full of stars from the bay balcony after the first night's dinner. We saw several shooting stars and the deck's Adirondack chairs were perfect for star gazing.  A dramatic rain storm passed the second day and gave every thing a needed drink and we watched as it passed on the Internets' weather radars. No rain fell in DC for our flower garden but it looks like today finally some of that Tropical Storm/hurricane Fay will be passing and give us downtown our first taste of rain for this month. The trees in our neighborhood look like they are dying from thirst many have yellow leaves from drought. We waited all day and not hardly any rain has fallen on our garden even with tropical storm Fay at our door step it is being held back by a high pressure system. It is so odd watching the rain stuck to the south of Washington, DC. There were lots of young butterflies at the beach and a few moths. I got my first Luna moth and several other butterflies in great detail while they sucked up minerals from the sand and clay cliffs. They were all very new and without damage to their colorful wings. The moth was so new it's wings were not yet flattened out enough to fly. Keith found it and knew I wanted to make a picture of one and came all the way back up the stairs to the house and took me back down to get this shot. When we came back it was right where he first spotted it drying in the breeze. The storm passed and the fog and gray clouds rolled in, the wind stopped. The bay went still except for soft waves you can see and hear in this video at the end. If the video isn't in your email you can go to the blog to see the video. In closing I noticed that the woods and beach side flora is all under attack by numerous invasive species like English Ivy &  Porcelain berry vines that crowds out all the native plants that should be growing in the woods and along the shore. The beach didn't have a lot of plastic garbage but we did see some when we looked carefully. The butterfly and the blue bag is one example. There was the barnacle covered Clorox bottle, I didn't take pictures of that sort of thing. We felt sad to see such a beautiful natural place filling with disposable society's trash. Even with all that sad stuff the natural world still worked it's magic on Keith and I and we had a lovely time and were reinvigorated. It reminded me how much I was uplifted last summer while visiting my pal in Ipswich, Mass. at the beach and Ipswich river's marsh. I would like to make a habit of going to the shore at the end of the summer for my birthday. 

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