Thursday, June 28, 2012

Easily Impressed

I'm currently vacationing with the extended family on a barrier island off the coast of the southeastern United States. Seeing as I'm on holiday, I've been hoping to write another entry in the Regency Holiday series. Never fear, that's coming soon, but not what I'm here to talk about this evening.

Mr. Boyce and I just came in from a walk on the beach and-- 

Can I just take a second to tell you how much I love the ocean? I used to dream of becoming a marine biologist, until I realized I possess no aptitude for science. Still, I think the ocean is absolutely amazing. I need it in my life. I don't live on the coast, but it's somehow comforting to know the ocean is only a couple hours away by car. I wouldn't choose to live in a landlocked state. There needs to be a big mass of blue on one side of my state's map.

Oh, look at the sweet ducks! I love the way they look and sound and...
Does anyone else even notice the ducks? What if I'm the only person
in the world aware of these ducks? Why do these ducks have the power
to throw me into existential crisis?
Back to my stroll with Mr. B. We didn't travel very far. Every few steps, we stopped to examine what was happening around our feet. He found some gorgeous, large shells this morning and I hoped to match his beachcombing skills. I picked up a broken chunk of scallop shell. There wasn't anything special about it. The shell was a bland gray. Flipping it over, I found a cluster of tiny, volcano-shaped structures. "Hey! It's got barnacles!" For a second, the fact crossed my mind that after the animal inhabiting that shell died, other animals made it their home. They lived their lives and died on that same, boring scallop shell. I tossed it back into the water.


Earlier in our holiday, I dug in the sand with the eldest Master Boyce. I found an oyster shell riddled with holes, eaten away by water and time. "Isn't this amazing?" I asked my son. "We can just reach down and pick up something that could be hundreds of years old." I was't faking the tone of wonder in my voice. That really is amazing to me. He grunted.

Return to present:

A short time after the barnacle incident, I spotted a pod of dolphins not too far offshore. Their wet skin flashed reflections of the sinking sun as they undulated through the water, lifting their rounded backs above the waves. Each tantalizing glimpse of fin or blown water was special. To me, they seemed like a row of sentinels patrolling the shore, keeping sharks away from swimmers enjoying the shallows.

Mr. B and I watched them until they passed. Smiling, I turned and looked around, sure my fellow beach goers would be likewise enraptured by the visiting wildlife. But no. People splashed in the water, lazed in the sand, chatted with friends. No one else seemed to have seen the dolphins. Maybe they just didn't notice them, I thought. 

"Dearest, I have a sinking suspicion these other
people are, well, dullards."
On our return leg of the walk, however, I wasn't able to give them the benefit of the doubt. A military helicopter passed overhead. Instinctively, I craned my neck to watch it. I spotted a red cross on a white square. "Medics," I informed Mr. Boyce. Turning to see his nod of agreement, I noticed that, yet again, no one around us paid any attention to the interesting sight. A very large, very loud helicopter flew right over us, and people seemed not to care.

For some reason, this really annoyed me. Who are these people who don't notice the world around them, who aren't spellbound by dolphins or transfixed by huge aircraft? Am I the different one to imagine the passing years in a barnacle-encrusted scallop, or to hold in reverence an age-ravaged oyster? It's all so impressive! I am often overwhelmed by the amazing world around me. Its people and history and natural majesty. Why isn't everyone as entranced? Is this my creative mind at work? Is it only my internal writer concentrating hard, picking out details in the way the retreating waves pull the sand out from between my toes?

Sometimes I feel a bit disconnected from humanity. When I can't even imagine why these marvelous things don't impress everyone, I wonder if I'll ever understand other people. Maybe writing is my way of trying to do that, to see the world through other eyes. Although I still don't know if I could write a character who fails to be impressed by dolphins.


  1. At the risk of spoiling the genteel mood...

    you rock!

  2. OMG, we're like souls. I have to experience the beach 3-4 times a year. I grew up 30 miles from it, and can't go long without going back. And I too marvel at the dolphins, the pelicans in perfect sync, the terns that read the waves and stay just ahead of a wash. I love a spot where lots and lots of tiny shells amass, and I search them for one of distinction, but never find what I'm looking for because of the beauty of the variety. I have pictures I've taken of it . . . close ups of just tiny shells. Yes, I get it. I truly get what you're saying. It saddens me to see people not enjoying the world they live in. I get that way about trees, too. They fascinate me. Enjoyable post. Thanks so much.

    C. Hope Clark
    Lowcountry Bribe, Bell Bridge Books, Feb 2012

  3. I am the same way, here up north. I just came from a morning work at Lief Erickson Park, overlooking Lake Superior in Duluth, MN. I also like to walk along the North Shore, taking in everything. I try to do this on a daily basis and when I am fortunate enough to be somewhere else, I keep my commitment to myself, and take that "awareness walk" wherever I am. The beauty is in that awareness, and I am able to feel "connected" through practicing it, wherever I am. In beginning my comment, I started to describe everything, then realized that wasn't my true intent. My intent was to describe and proclaim my commitment to not be like "all those people" who don't notice the world around them; if that leaves me disconnected from humanity, so be it. I don't think so. Let's look at what we are becoming aware of. We are not the ones disconnecting from humanity - we are connecting to humanity through our awareness of the world, the world we "humans" live in. Thank you, for the connection.


  4. You've struck a chord! We summered every year on the Outer Banks. While my peers were practicing their baton twirling or whatever, I would be transfixed by sandpipers or sand crabs or the way the foam flew off the waves. Face down in the sand, I would peer at individual grains of sand, awestruck at how each one was so unique and once part of something much larger. Ah, the ocean! Great post!