“In order to thrive as artists – and, one could argue, as people – we need to be available to the universal flow. When we put a stopper on our capacity for joy by anorectically (def.: using analysis or logical reasoning) declining the small gifts of life, we turn aside the larger gifts as well. “from “Inspirations – Meditations from the Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron
Several days ago my friend I returned to a beach we had first explored on a cold day in February. I will even go as far as calling it a “very icy day”, in more ways than one. We had arrived on a vast beach covered with multiple layers of ice trapping seaweed, dry grasses, red sand and shells. Much of our time was spent on our knees and bellies angling cameras to capture this or that. We were so excited about our discoveries that day. The possibilities were endless and we would have spent many more hours had it not been so windy and cold!
Fast forward to early June. We left early in the day and drove into a landscape with overcast skies, mist in the distance and all around flat light conditions. When we arrived at the beach on Blue Sac Road 20 minutes later we were immediately assaulted by humid air when we opened the car doors. And our enthusiasm was low, I would even describe it as non-existent. This is so unlike us. Usually we feed off each other, but that day began on a slow note.
Our focus turned to the tide as we surveyed the beach which lacked the contrasting colours and textures from February. Neither one of us wanted to admit that perhaps returning this time of the year was a disappointment. We are not too quick in giving up or admitting disappointment too early…
We turned west at the bottom of the road and followed the cliffs on a rocky shoreline that offered some new geological formations as well as driftwood, nature’s most amazing sculptures. Soon we were concentrating on these natural offering through the lenses of our cameras. This was not the first time that we realized that if we just focused on the “gifts” presented expectations would adjust. Witnessing the retreat of the tide to our left, swatting away and doing our utmost to ignore pesky blackflies close to the cliff while constantly adjusting our camera settings, we walked on.
And there it was… a grouping of smooth rocks, covered in the bright green of thick algae and seaweed made us take note and immediately move toward the water’s edge. Ah, finally! Some variety! Our collective mood lifted instantly and the focus shifted to examining the tidal rocks and all they had to offer.
I loved these rocks and what they presented to us up close. At the same time I appreciated what they could contribute to my landscape compositions. My friend and I quietly explored what was offered to us and just about at the same time turned to one another to decide to head back. We had walked nearly 5 km along the beach and both of us were ready to get back to the car.
To state that we were a little underwhelmed at that point would be the correct observation. We walked back close to the water. We didn’t need a particular reason to hug the water’s edge but soon realized that the beach here was devoid of blackflies. It also presented us with a spectacular view of the Five Islands as they appeared closer to us with their bases exposed and the light changing to reveal a little blue sky and better definition in the clouds overhead. Even the contrasting colours on the islands was stronger, rich red clay against the green of trees and algae.
And then we stopped at the same time. We had arrived at a sandy area littered with barnacle-covered rocks, sea weed, kelp, coral and shells. A loon was making its presence known with its haunting call not far from us. Delighted, we continued to give our cameras a good workout. Minutes later I turned toward Five Islands once more and the next discovery nearly made us sprint toward it.
There, stretched out before us was a formation reminiscent of a sandbank. As we approached it quickly we realized that we were looking at sandstone rock. I wish I could share the sound of the water ever so gently lapping against it, the seagulls soaring overhead calling to each other. I will not mention the piercing sound of a couple ATVs with fishermen on their way to the weir to harvest their most recent catch… it’s a sound that signifies productivity… and it soon disappeared into the distance.
I have made a conscientious effort to share my sensory impressions with you in today’s post. The most important realization on that day was that we were richly rewarded once again for practicing patience and perseverance. Had we turned around soon after our arrival we would have missed out on so much. Battling the blackflies and high humidity was worthwhile when I think of the natural riches presented to us just for “hanging around” and taking our time. Photography has become a form of meditation for me and with that I have gained great insights. I regularly head out with my friend. We are both independent and contemplative explorers of nature in the Bay of Fundy.
In closing I want to share something that I have said to my photography students many times: “If you don’t think the environment you are exploring has much interest, slow down, seat yourself and listen. The opportunities will present themselves. You just need to stay receptive, keep an open mind, listen and watch. Close your eyes, observe your breathing for a minute or two and let go of preconceived ideas. Now open your eyes and take note of the first thing you see…” This advice held true for me during my outing to Blue Sac Beach once again. It’s always great to revisit and apply old knowledge.
May your day be filled with unexpected discoveries!
Best wishes, Anna