A Chair in the Sand

To remain as clay, to be shaped and moved

Unfinished but evolving

soft and pliable.

Not the same as yesterday

Not what will be tomorrow

Ever present to what is now

Unfolding and grounded

Unwilling to turn to stone.

Open to possibilities, to new beginnings

To be clay.

                                                                          – Kathie Pugaczewski

Sixty-seven days ago Ted and I moved into our new home in Beverly Beach.  Today – for the first time – I slung a beach chair over my shoulder, crossed A1A, pushed the chair firmly into the sand, and lowered myself down into it.  The only sounds were the waves rushing onto and away from the shore, the call of seagulls, and the occasional Coast Guard helicopter.  Looking north, then south, I could make out the forms of other people on the sand, but they were so far away they might just as well not have been there.

Over the other shoulder I’d hung a beach bag (bright yellow with imprinted white dots in varying sizes) filled with a book, a high liter pen, my camera and my iPhone (both safely zipped into a waterproof bag), and a beach towel (mostly to cover my legs if I got chilly).  I settled down, pulled out my book, slid my “reader” sunglasses off my head and onto my nose, and breathed out a big sigh of contentment as I opened the book.

By page three I was already fidgeting.  Did my cellphone ring? Why didn’t I bring a bottle of water? I wonder if I could get some good pictures in this light?  I pulled my camera out of my bag and started down the beach.

Notei to self: find a pocket-sized book naming sea birds.

Note to self: Find a pocket-sized book naming sea birds.


This isn’t a zoomed photo. I followed this seagull around for at least five minutes, photographing him from every available angle. He tolerated the intrusion with a great deal of patience.

No one to the north . . .

No one to the north . . .

. . . or to the south.

. . . or to the south.

After twenty minutes I wandered back to my beach chair and once again sat down.  Putting my head back and closing my eyes, I let the roar of the ocean take over.  My first random thought was this: When did I forget how to be still?  After months of frenetic activity, it seems I’m going to have to practice sitting quietly and just being.

I began to think back to my twenties and thirties, when the idea of owning a house by the sea was just an unbelievable – and unachievable – dream.  Never in my wildest imaginings did I believe back then it would ever happen.  Vacations by the ocean – yes.  Living by the ocean – impossible.

And yet – here I am.  Between those years and now a lot of living occurred, and during those years I discovered a place like none I had ever imagined.  Mackinac Island became my heart’s home.  It always will be.

But here – now – the old dream of beach living is slowly becoming a reality in my mind.  What I have to do is embrace it.  I have to let the clean ocean air seep into my very soul.  I have to be quiet and listen to the cries of the sea birds overhead.  I have to feel with my heart the thunder of the waves against the sand and the rush and swirl as it returns out to sea. The sea is nature at its purest – tides controlled by the moon, water creatures whose intelligence we are only just now beginning to fathom, mysteries of the deep to explore that are as old as time.

A house by the sea.  What will it teach me?  What lessons are left to learn?  What gifts will the sand and water offer up?

A house by the sea.  Amazing.

55 thoughts on “A Chair in the Sand

  1. Today your pictures look really good to me. We are having a lake-effect day. Tonight the low they are calling for is -10 degrees. Really do love winter just not the extreme days and temperature.
    Look forward to enjoying the new adventures you will embark on.


    • I know it sounds great, Charlotte, but I need a few – just a few – really, really COLD days to make me believe it’s really winter!


  2. As I sit here all wrapped up in fleece and look out the window at snow and 14 degree temps, your new blog warmed my soul. So beautifully written. You definitely do need to “embrace” your new surroundings. The peaceful, quiet, empty beach sounds great. Sometimes I go to sleep with ocean wave sounds on an iPhone app. I have momentary thoughts of moving to Florida, but they pass. I’m a Michigander stone! I love the poem and your new blog theme. Can’t wait to see where it goes.


  3. Your fidginest is truly understandable. Your life has been a constant tornado for the past year and and all of sudden you are “done”. It will probably take a while to adjust and “learn” to relax again. Most people who are retired don’t sell two houses in two different states in 12 months, move into a rental house, build a house in a third state and finally move into the newly built house all within 18mths! You truly have amazed me through all of this.

    Give yourself a pat on the back that you have handled this as well as anyone could. And when there are times when you feel a little sad or blue, talk to the seagulls. They will be good therapy! LOL!


  4. Brenda-look into a Lifeproof case for your phone. They are expensive but a life saver. Before our vacation to Tybee last June I insisted that my daughter and I both get one. Lifeproof’s are waterproof, dust proof and shatter resistant. I can’t tell you how many times I dropped my phone in the sand and the phone was fine. My daughter even dropped hers in the ocean and it was fine! I don’t know if the case will lessen the quality of the pictures so that may be a problem for you.


  5. Love the new blog Brenda…just as you are adjusting to a new home, state etc I am trying to adjust to a new life style without my bestfriend and hubby…but the Lord is good and is with me (and you) each step of the way!! So happy you are continuing to blog.


    • Alice, my sweet friend. I don’t know how in this world I missed that your dear husband has passed. I am so, so sorry. My prayers are with you and the entire family.


  6. Hi Bree. I admire your spirit and share your love of Mackinac… which has brought me to your blog(s) year after year. I have said hello to you on the street and even enjoyed a beer (or two) on a bar-stool next to Ted. Does the new direction of your blogging mean that there will be no more pictures and updates of Mackinac Island? As much as I love being near, on, or in the Great Lakes, I am one that hates the ocean. I guess I feel that where the lakes are concerned, it is only the currents or my own stupidity that can kill me. With the oceans there are so many things from the size of a pea to God’s most massive creatures that can end my life without a second’s notice. I certainly have a high regard for your bravery but will miss your blog’s Mackinac focus.


    • No worries, T. As long as friends cintinue to share photos, Mackinac will remain a huge part of any blog I write. I should have made that clear, so thanks for asking that question. And – hopefully – we’ll be returning to the island for at least six weeks in August/September (and anytime I can find enough nickels to finance other trips)!


    • T. Lynn, thanks for your comment and question. When I read Bree’s new blog, I was afraid she had decided to stop writing about the Island. That would be a disaster of great proportion.


      • Lowell, if you thought I wouldn’t be writing about Mackinac anymore, you don’t know me as well as I thought you did! So, I’m going to assume you were kidding!


  7. Brenda, your post rang poetic today. I could feel you reaching deep into the abyss of emotions. Your ability to do that and than the gift of sharing that is what has drawn others and me to you. If I never meet you again face to face, I will count you among my treasured friends. I have learned from you and hope to continue to do so. I have visited beaches but feel unfamiliar with the ocean. I also want to learn about sea birds. Teach!


  8. Hi Brenda! 🙂
    I’ve enjoyed following your blogs in the past (especially Mackinac Island!), and am excited to read all about your new adventures in Florida! It’s been a VERY cold 8 degrees here in Michigan, but I feel a little warmer after reading your first blog today! 🙂 I wish you much happiness in your new dream home!!! God Bless!!


  9. Brenda,

    I’m so glad you are taking some time to relax on the beach. I know you will enjoy it more and more as you get used to it. Just sitting and letting the mind wander is a great thing, especially when it is by the water (ocean, lake or stream). I sometimes do that in the shade of a tree in the front yard, BUT not today. Seven degrees right now, but I’m quite comfortable with my feet resting on the heating pad. I’m doing as you told me to do and not shoveling much snow. Of course we don’t have much, so it’s easy for me to behave.


    • Brenda, I don’t know if you know it, but the time shown on the comments is 5 hours off. I suppose it doesn’t make much difference either way and I don’t know if you can do anything about it, but I thought you might like to know.

      By the way, I just heard the wood pop in the wall of our house because of the cold. I don’t think you’ll need to spend a whole lot of time worrying about that where you live.


  10. Brenda, you are amazing with your words & descriptions. Once again you have managed to pull me away from my crazy world & sooth my soul if only for a little while! ❤


  11. As always an inspiring read. I could hear and smell the ocean. I also imagined an empty beach just sitting there enjoying it; especially after a long day at work. It is artic cold here in Michigan; so please keep the Florida pictures and stories coming our way. I still love the island pictures from all seasons! I have joined a few facebook pages about the island, just to keep the pictures coming in. Thank you for sharing your life and well written words with us, God bless you Brenda.


  12. brenda will lov this blog like all others, thank you for sharing cheryl ps : its freezing in ill so you cansend us some sun shine


  13. Your words on this blog are beautiful. I could picture myself in the sand with the seagulls. Great work! I think we ALL could learn to slow down in life and enjoy for a minute, or twenty!!


  14. Can’t wait for the next post, lovely photos, as usual..Love the seagull! By the way, it is now 0 degrees in Ann Arbor, MI with a wind chill of -18 degrees. Of course that is nothing compared to the island! Keep enjoying that weather and showing us all of the warm photos. Yes, you must learn to relax, you both have been thru a stressful couple of years. Hope the dogs love it there as well. I know Maddie misses those moles! Hope Bear is much better now.


    • Hi Judy! Maddie and Bear are settling in just fine, although I worry how Bear will adapt to the summer heat here. Lots more time in the air conditioning I’m sure – for him and ME! I’ve been keeping up with the Michigan weather through readers like you, and you guys are really having a cold snap right now! Cold here this morning also – 27 and blustery winds. Sounds like hot weather to you I bet!


  15. Isn’t it funny that when we’re busy, we wish for a quiet moment, then when we have it, we don’t know what to do with it!! I have a feeling you’ll be getting in the groove soon, though.

    And now we have “like” buttons! Yay!!!!!


  16. Hi Brenda! As I watch Chilidawg struggle with the snow and cold (although Buzz loves it as he is much taller and much younger), I am thinking of sending her down for the winter to keep Maddie company. But knowing how well some little dachshund women don’t get along …

    I am working on learning to slow down. Hard to do!
    My best! Sue


  17. Always feel as if I’m reading a wonderful new book when I read your posts. You make it possible for me to ‘sit by the sea’ or ‘sink down deep into cold snow’. Keep writing and taking those pictures.


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