ROCKPORT HARBOR AND ANOTHER SUNRISE – Marilyn Armstrong

Fishing Boats and a Scarlet Sunrise


Dawn in Rockport. If pictures look familiar, Rockport, Massachusetts is one of the most photographed locations in the U.S. Not only is it highly photogenic, but it is also an artist’s colony.

Just before daybreak

First light

It was July 4th and I set the alarm for 4 am. It was still fully dark, but luckily, the place we were staying was across the street from the harbor. No hiking was involved, Having done this before, I had my clothing, camera, and anything else I thought I might need already set out.  I dressed in just a few minutes and got moving. By now, I knew I needed long sleeves, pants, and socks. July in Massachusetts is overwhelmed by mosquitoes. The only thing that makes it bearable is a breeze of at least six or seven miles per hour.

No breeze. Not even a hint. I knew I was going to be breakfast for a lot of skeeters.

Perfect sunrise

Almost day

Homes along the shore in the reflection of the rising sun

I was not the only one awake. The fishermen were rigging their boats. They would be gone by the time “normal” people opened their eyes. They seemed immune to the biting menaces — or maybe they were counting on moving out to the Atlantic quickly and leaving the mosquitoes behind.

OGUNQUIT BEACH WITH BIRDS AND A SUNRISE – Marilyn Armstrong

Sunrise Flight


Dawn on Ogunquit beach. It was about 4:30 in the morning when I dragged my body from the bed, threw some clothing on including long sleeves, long pants, and socks. Not because it was so cold. It was a warm September, but I had already discovered that the mosquitoes are voracious in those early hours.

One gull flying over the shore on the hunt for clams and crabs

Looking for breakfast at sunrise

At first, the beach was completely empty, but gradually as it got closer to daylight, there were runners and strollers. Couples hand-in-hand … but apparently only one photographer. Everyone else stayed close to the incoming tide and many walked in the water.

Plovers and a lone gull

I was looking for a wider view, so I stayed back. The farther you are from the water, the worse the mosquitoes become. I think I may have been the only “live one” on the scene.

 

ALONG THE ATLANTIC COAST – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Saturday: COAST

When you grow up in any of the coastal states in the U.S., “going to the beach” is at the top of your summertime list from as soon as you are old enough to tiptoe into the ocean, until you get serious about work and forget about having fun for the next couple of decades.

It’s not that you don’t go to visit the shore. We all do that, even in the middle of the winter, to see the gulls fly backward against the incoming winds, early enough to watch the haze burn off along the shoreline … and the best place to think quietly without any interruption.

I actually prefer the coast in the winter. It’s relatively empty, at least of people. The sky is a great blue bowl overhead … and when the wind comes in, the seagulls really do fly backward until they give up and sit in the water until the winds die off.

Atlantic shore in Ogunquit. Maine at dawn

Rockport, Massachusetts at sunrise

Gloucester, Massachusetts, home of the famed fishing fleet

Gloucester, Cape Ann – A famous place for shipwrecks!

Barnstable on Cape Cod

RAINBOW COLORS IN BIRDS AND ONE SUNRISE OVER OGUNQUIT – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Rainbow Colors (at least 4)

Oh boy. Birds! I’m pretty sure some of these pictures have a lot more than four. A few of the birds have more than four.

And a sunrise because … well … everyone needs a sunrise, right?

Redhead, beige and yellow body, black and white wings — with yellow corn, black seeds plus a slightly golden background …

Chickadees with a yellow breast, white head with the black stripe and throat, dark grey and white wings … and their back is sort of dark green …

Want to count colors? this is a very colorful little finch!

Sunrise over the ocean in Ogunquit, Maine – So many colors!

 

JAMAICA, FAREWELL – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Tropical

Living on the “right coast,” the Caribbean has been our go-to tropical islands. Garry was addicted to Bimini. I didn’t go as often as he did, but I loved St. Martin and later, St. Thomas, Aruba, Antigua … and most particularly, I really loved Jamaica.

Maybe it was the coffee? By the time Garry and I were able to spend time in the Caribbean, I had pretty much given up buying souvenir tee-shirts, but on the other hand, I came back from Jamaica with four pounds of pure Blue Mountain coffee beans. It was the best coffee I ever had in my life and I still dream about it. Well, you know what I mean. Daydream. Not night dreams. My night dreams are way more complicated than coffee.

Also, there was something about that island. When we landed (by cruise ship) in Jamaica, we had already learned to not buy the pre-packaged tours from the ship. Go ashore and find a guy. Because there was always a guy who would pop you into his cab and if he liked you (we were always very likable on cruises), he introduced us to his mother, family, the places at which he really ate. The food was amazing and served in someone’s backyard on an old wooden table with folding chairs.

He showed us where to find the best coffee beans for a couple of dollars a pound, rum so strong no one could drink it — not even Garry and he could really drink! — and the beaches only local people knew about.

We spent two days on Jamaica and when we had to leave, I stood at the railing and watched Jamaica disappear around the curve of the earth. I wanted to go back and never leave.

I still want to go back. Jamaica was the island that called to me.

BRIGHT HORIZONS

HORIZON – THE SKY ABOVE THE LINE OF THE EARTH


My favorite horizon is sunrise, but sunset is pretty good too. Anywhere where the sky meets the earth is a horizon. Clear away the buildings and the trees, and there it is.

ON THE BEACH

And there we were, at the beach. Most likely, Jones Beach. Back then I lived on Long Island and it was the beach to which we usually went.

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Summer. Probably 1970. My son was already walking, but in that funny way toddlers have. Half a stagger, a bit of lurch, a hint of trot, topped with a dollop of falling over. I was with friends who had brought their children, most of whom were my son’s age, more or less.

One friend had gone to the food kiosk and come back with big sandwiches for everyone. In New York, we call them subs (I think short for submarine, probably because of the general shape of the bread). These are given different name in different regions. Whatever you call them, they are big sandwiches on little loaves of bread. Filled with chicken Parmigiano, meatballs, or maybe roast beef or Italian cold cuts. Hogeys? Grinders? Feel free to fill in your own word.

We settled down on our blankets to enjoy the food.

My son had been told we were having sandwiches. He obligingly came over to see what was going on. He smiled brightly, then poured a handful of sand into my sandwich.

Toddler logic?

SANDWICH | THE DAILY POST 

WHEN UMBRELLAS FLY

Although I ran this about a year ago, it definitely speaks to today’s prompt. It has the advantage of being true and funny, my favorite combination. Beware of flying umbrellas!


Once upon a time, my father had a business partner. I don’t remember his name, but he was a big, bluff Russian who used to come over the house and make gallons of cabbage soup. He must have thought there were a lot more of us than there were, because my mother couldn’t figure out how to store so much soup, even though we had a full-size standing deep freezer in the basement and a huge fridge in the kitchen.

He and my father would go into the kitchen and produce these gallons of soup and laugh a lot. We all had to eat it for weeks until we were sure we were turning into little cabbages.

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Bob (or whatever his name was) was accident prone and an enthusiastic teller of stories, most of them about his own misadventures.

“So I was at the beach, at Coney Island” he says, almost shouting because he never said anything except very loud. “Very sunny. Blue sky. A nice day to take my mother to the beach, let her relax in the sun by the water. She is just settling down with her chair. And she asks me if I’ll set up the umbrella for her. I mean, she didn’t have to ask. I always do it, but she always asks anyway, like if she doesn’t ask I won’t do it. I took her to Coney Island, what did she think, I’m going to leave her to cook in the sun?”

We all nodded dutifully. Because he was my father’s partner and we were kids, so what else was there to do?

“It’s a big umbrella. With stripes. Red and yellow. I got it myself, on sale. Umbrellas are expensive and this was a good sturdy one and I paid bupkas for it. If you ever need an umbrella …” and he paused to remember what he was going to say. “Anyway, this was one of the good ones, with a heavy pole so it would stay put.”

We nodded some more. Our job. To nod. Look very interested.

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“I opened the umbrella and had to find the right place to put it because, you know, if it’s in the wrong place, the shade isn’t going to be where you want it. So I walked around a bit until I found just the right place. Then I took the pole and a jammed it into the sand as hard as I could and it went pretty deep. Seemed good and solid.”

We were still nodding. I must have been — maybe 10? — and had been taught to always be polite to grown-ups.

“What with everything looking okay and my mother settling down in her chair with a book, she looked happy. So I figured it would be a good time to get something to eat and I told her I would go get us some hot dogs — and something to drink. She said that was good, tell them to leave the mustard off because — she’s always reminding me but I know, I know — she doesn’t like mustard.

“I walked all the way over to Nathan’s — pretty long walk, all the way at the end of the boardwalk — because they have the best hot dogs” at which I was nodding with enthusiasm because Nathan’s does have the best hot dogs, “And fries. I got five, two for her — no mustard — and three for me. I was hungry,” and he paused to pat his substantial belly, “I started walking back. I could see where to go — I could see our striped umbrella all the way from the boardwalk.”

Nod, nod, nod.Nathans at Coney Island

“The weather suddenly began to change.  Suddenly. Big clouds coming in from the ocean. And getting windy. This was all happening fast while I was out getting the dogs. Funny how weather changes so fast at the beach, you know? So now, I’m almost there when up comes a big puff of wind. That umbrella pulls right out of the sand and flies at me. Whacks me over the head. Boom. I thought my head was gonna come off.

“I dropped the food and fell over. Like a rock I fell and just lay there. My whole brain was like scrambled eggs. They had to come and take me to the hospital. I was completely compost for TWO DAYS! Two days! Compost!”

Beware of flying umbrellas at the seashore. They can turn you into compost. That’s bad, especially if your hands are full of hot dogs.

BEFORE SUNRISE – A PHOTO A WEEK CHALLENGE: MUTED COLORS

A Photo a Week Challenge: Muted Colors

Color is an important part of photography. Some images work best with over-saturated colors; some work best with no colors (I love good black and white photographs). For this week’s challenge, I found a picture that I really liked, but was over-exposed. When I started working on it, I realized that if I muted the colors down, I was able to “save” the photo. And the result looks great and has a slightly nostalgic feel to it.

I love muted colors, the softer and more subtle the better. I had to make a decision. A hard decision. Two pictures out of 100,000.

Morning Mist

Both of these pictures were taken on Ogunquit Beach in Maine, in September. The time was just before five in the morning. It’s daybreak. Mist rolled in from the ocean during the night and has not been burned off by a rising sun. You can see these softest colors only during the earliest hour of light.

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GOING COMPOST

Uncanned Laughter – A misused word, a misremembered song lyric, a cream pie that just happened to be there: tell us about a time you (or someone else) said or did something unintentionally funny.


Once upon a time, my father had a business partner who liked making cabbage soup. Bob (not his real name) and my father would go into the kitchen and produce gallons of soup and laugh a lot. We all had to eat it for weeks until we were sure we were turning into little cabbages.

Bob was an enthusiastic story-teller, mostly about his own misadventures. This was my favorite.

“So I was at the beach, at Coney Island” he says, almost shouting. He always talked very loud and with a slight Russian accent. “Very sunny day. Blue sky. A good day to take my mother to the beach, let her relax in the sun by the water. She is just settling down with her chair. She asks me if I’ll set up the umbrella for her. She didn’t have to ask. I always do it, but she always asks anyway, like if she doesn’t ask I won’t do it. I took her to Coney Island, what did she think, I’m going to leave her to cook in the sun?”

75-BeachAtConeyIsland-707

We all nodded dutifully.

“It’s a big umbrella. With stripes. Red and yellow. I got it myself, on sale. Umbrellas are expensive and this was a good sturdy one and I paid bupkas for it. If you ever need an umbrella …” and he paused to remember what he was going to say. “Anyway, this was one of the good ones, with a heavy pole so it would stay put.

“I opened the umbrella. Had to find the right place to put it because, you know, because if it’s in the wrong place, the shade isn’t going to be where you want it. So I walked around a bit, then took the pole and a jammed it into the sand as hard as I could. Seemed good and solid.

“With everything looking okay and mom settling down with a book, I thought it was a good time to get something to eat. I told her I would go get us some hot dogs and something to drink.

She said “Good, tell them to leave the mustard off.” She’s always reminding me but I know she doesn’t like mustard.

“I walked all the to Nathan’s. Long walk, to the end of the boardwalk. Worth it. They have the best hot dogs.” Definitely worth it. Nathan’s does have the best hot dogs, “And fries. I got five, two for her — no mustard. Three for me. I was hungry,” and he paused to pat his big belly, “I started walking back. I could see where to go ’cause I could see our umbrella.”

Nathans at Coney Island

“The weather began to change. Big clouds coming from the ocean. Getting windy too. Funny how fast weather changes at the beach, you know? I’m almost there when up comes a big gust of wind. The umbrella pulls right out of the sand and flies at me. Whacks me over the head. Boom. I thought my head was gonna come off.

“I dropped the food and fell over. Like a rock. I just lay there. My whole brain was like scrambled eggs. They had to come and take me to the hospital. I was compost for TWO DAYS! Two days! Compost!”

I’ve been laughing ever since, but luckily have never gone compost.

(NOTE: He meant “comatose.”)

Hail Mary?

Sudden Shifts – At the beach, enjoying the sun, nibbling on watermelon. Within seconds, the weather shifts and hail starts descending form the sky. What happens next?


I should be writing. Processing pictures. At least be going to the kitchen to get another cup of coffee. I need more coffee.

I should be packing up our stuff to go to the beach. I promised the kids we’d go today, but the forecast calls for hail. Bullets from heaven. Buckshot of the gods.

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I can’t seem to move. Or think. My head is stuffed with cotton wool. Hey, remember cotton wool? Fuzzy, sort of rough? We used it to stuff things, right? Maybe we used it to clean things. Whatever.

After the long day yesterday, I can’t seem to quite wake up. Beach. Blanket. Thermal bag full of sandwiches. Do we have any cold cuts? Soft drinks? Bread. The Hell with it, we’ll buy hot dogs.

Towels. Suntan lotion. An umbrella bright with stripes. Do we still have the umbrella? Oh, right, it’s under the deck. Probably full of bugs. Spiders. Never mind. I’ll skip that.

Does my bathing suit still fit? It looked hideous last year. I looked hideous last year. Bet I won’t look any better this year. At least not in a bathing suit. Do I have a kaftan somewhere under which I could hide? No?

Let me get that cup of coffee and think about this some more.

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I hear they had hail on a beach in Russia. Glad I’m not Russian because I can’t run … even with hail falling. Does that make it a Hail Mary? Sorry. It’s that kind of day.

I think I’ll watch that Sox game. Where’s the remote?

AUTUMN ON CAPE COD – GARRY ARMSTRONG

So there I was, putting a new strap on Garry’s camera. It was part of his birthday present, but it kind of got lost in all the medical crises. Today, I attached it to his camera and it looked good. On a whim, I pulled the chip to see what was on it … and what to my wondering eyes should appear than more than 300 pictures Garry took last summer on Cape Cod.

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All of these are previously unseen by anyone but the photographer himself. So here, for your enjoyment is October on Cape Cod … from beach to Hyannisport and you can sing along with Patti Page, too.

Ogunquit, Maine: Sunrise, Sand, Rivers, Feathered and Other Friends – Marilyn Armstrong

Autumnal equinox in the northern latitudes. September. A week in Ogunquit, Maine. A tiny place but close to the beach and the river.

There are more people on the beach to see the dawn than I ever expected — there just for the peace and the beauty. Before the sun is up, the mist hangs on the sand.

Quiet this time of year. Most tourists are gone, now, so the streets aren’t crowded.

The moment there is a hint of sun, the mist disappears in a matter of seconds.

There is no more perfect time to be on the seashore of Maine than the very earliest part of Autumn.

Comes the sun …

If you are a photographer, you make take it as a sign that God loves you when having hauled your reluctant body out of bed while it’s still dark, then hike half a mile carrying all your gear to the beach while all the starving blood-sucking insects in the state gather to enjoy you as their breakfast buffet.

Suffer for your art? But you get a reward that is more than worth any and all of your efforts, because before you, as the mist burns away, a sunrise and a golden sun so breathtaking rises before you … and you are there and ready.

People of all ages walk along the water before dawn.

This is a day when your camera works perfectly, your batteries don’t run out, your lens is in perfect alignment, your eyes see and you capture exactly what you want to capture … and everything is in focus.

Then come the birds … terns, plovers, and gulls … Breakfast for the feathered residents.

Tiny plovers comfortably share the shore with one Great Black Backed Gull.

It doesn’t happen often. When it does, when it all comes together perfectly … then you must treasure it … savor it … and share it.

At times like these, it makes you remember why you started taking pictures in the first place.

The rising sun reflects on the sand as if it were polished glass.

That morning I discovered wet sand reflects light like a mirror. You can see the way the tide changes the shape of the sand along the shore.

The big seagull seems to be waiting for the sun to come up dissipating the last of the early mist.

The colors change from one second to the next.

Each moment is more beautiful than the one before it. Really, the entire time is probably no more than half an hour, but it’s a lifetime of beauty.

Then, final gold before full sunlight.

Later, I walked to the river and found this house. This is the Ogunquit River, just about a quarter of a mile before it joins the ocean. The house is virtually part of the river.

The only way I could find to get across the river to the house was by this “bridge,” really just a piece of wood across the rapids and falls. I declined to test it.

What happens in times of flood? Interesting place to build!

And finally, on my way back to our room, I found a hint of autumn near the beach in a small woodland area between the marsh and the shore.

BEWARE OF FLYING UMBRELLAS

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Once upon a time, my father had a business partner. I don’t remember his name, but he was a big, bluff Russian who used to come over the house and make gallons of cabbage soup. He must have thought there were a lot more of us than there were, because my mother couldn’t figure out how to store so much soup, even though we had a full size standing deep freezer in the basement and a huge fridge in the kitchen.

He and my father would go into the kitchen and produce these gallons of soup and laugh a lot. We all had to eat it for weeks until we were sure we were turning into little cabbages.

Bob (or whatever his name was) was accident prone and an enthusiastic teller of stories, most of them about his own misadventures.

“So I was at the beach, at Coney Island” he says, almost shouting because he never said anything except very loud. “Very sunny. Blue sky. A nice day to take my mother to the beach, let her relax in the sun by the water. She is just settling down with her chair. And she asks me if I’ll set up the umbrella for her. I mean, she didn’t have to ask. I always do it, but she always asks anyway, like if she doesn’t ask I won’t do it. I took her to Coney Island, what did she think, I’m going to leave her to cook in the sun?”

75-BeachAtConeyIsland-707

We all nodded dutifully. Because he was my father’s partner and we were kids, so what else was there to do?

“It’s a big umbrella. With stripes. Red and yellow. I got it myself, on sale. Umbrellas are expensive and this was a good sturdy one and I paid bupkas for it. If you ever need an umbrella …” and he paused to remember what he was going to say. “Anyway, this was one of the good ones, with a heavy pole so it would stay put.”

We nodded some more. Our job. To nod. Look very interested.

“I opened the umbrella and had to find the right place to put it because, you know, if it’s in the wrong place, the shade isn’t going to be where you want it. So I walked around a bit until I found just the right place. Then I took the pole and a jammed it into the sand as hard as I could and it went pretty deep. Seemed good and solid.”

We were still nodding. I must have been — maybe 10? — and had been taught to be polite, no matter what, to grown-ups. We did not call adults by their first name. I think my teeth would have cracked if I had tried or my tongue would have stuck to the roof of my mouth.

“What with everything looking okay and my mother settling down in her chair with a book, she looked happy. So I figured it would be a good time to get something to eat and I told her I would go get us some hot dogs — and something to drink. She said that was good, tell them to leave the mustard off because — she’s always reminding me but I know, I know — she doesn’t like mustard.

“I walked all the way over to Nathan’s — pretty long walk, all the way at the end of the boardwalk — because they have the best hot dogs” at which I was nodding with enthusiasm because Nathan’s does have the best hot dogs, “And fries. I got five, two for her — no mustard — and three for me. I was hungry,” and he paused to pat his substantial belly, “I started walking back. I could see where to go — I could see our striped umbrella all the way from the boardwalk.”

Nod, nod, nod.Nathans at Coney Island

“The weather suddenly began to change.  Suddenly. Big clouds coming in from the ocean. And getting windy. This was all happening fast while I was out getting the dogs. Funny how weather changes so fast at the beach, you know? So now, I’m almost there when up comes a big puff of wind. That umbrella pulls right out of the sand and flies at me. Whacks me over the head. Boom. I thought my head was gonna come off.

“I dropped the food and fell over. Like a rock I fell and just lay there. My whole brain was like scrambled eggs. They had to come and take me to the hospital. I was completely compost for TWO DAYS! Two days! Compost!”

Be careful of flying umbrellas at the beach. They will turn you into compost. That’s not good, especially when your hands are full of hot dogs.

For the Weekly Writing Challenge: Object – A character sketch and some funny memories.