Tuesday, August 2, 2011

This is Where I Live

I love where I live--in the summertime, anyway. I'm not fond of bitter cold or ice or snow or short dark days, but there's no place I'd rather be from May through, oh, October. And summertime is when I feel most thrummingly alive. I wanted to share some photos taken during the past couple of weeks, because I feel so fortunate to live here, because I think the ecosystems we get to explore as a matter of course are incredibly cool, and because this all is part of what inspires me.

I live in Rhode Island, nicknamed "The Ocean State," and our summers--mine and my kids'--revolve, in large part, around the ocean. Less than fifteen minutes after pulling out of my driveway, I can be unpacking the car at any of several beaches. Rhode Island has done a wonderful job protecting its coastline. We live on the southern coast, so the beaches we go to are Atlantic Ocean beaches. (If you were to sail straight out from the beach the kids and I go to, you'd pass between Block Island, which is part of Rhode Island, and Montauk, which is at the tip of Long Island, New York.) Rhode Island also has many beaches on Narragansett Bay. I prefer the southern coast ocean beaches.

This particular beach is a barrier beach. Behind it lies Rhode Island's largest salt pond. It has an average depth of 4 1/2 feet and, being a pond, is extremely calm. This makes it a great place for the kids, even my two-year-old, to play in.

We see fish and jellies (both non-stinging and sometimes stinging, watch out!), lots of oyster shells, crabs, and even, once, a horseshoe crab.

On the beach side we play in the sand and the waves, collect rocks, look out at sailboats...

Yesterday we used magnets to draw some iron from the sand. Isn't that cool?

And I try to catch some fleeting little girl footprints. They're getting big, fast, my kids.

Last week my boys were in half-day art camp in Jamestown, on one of the islands in Narragansett Bay. Because they were in opposite half-day sessions, I spent lots of time in Jamestown last week, getting to feel lucky that this is where I live. One morning, my oldest, my youngest, and I hung out at Beavertail State Park while my middle child was at camp.

We happened to be there at low tide, which meant we could find tidepools in the rocky shore.

They were full of critters...

This is a periwinkle snail. If you hum to them, they will start to come out of their shells. My son was the best at it, of the three of us.

That's a little spider crab. They're camouflaged by the algae that grows on their shells.

That's a wee little hermit crab, just poking out of his shell, on my daughter's hand. We saw lots of them. They're really fun to watch--I think hermit crabs are full of personality.

And, of course, this is a sea star. It's not a starfish; it's not a fish at all. I spent some time working as an environmental educator, and my kids all call these sea stars too, because that's what I've always called them.

Later in the week, my husband brought our middle child back to Beavertail at low tide so he, too, could investigate the tide pools. They wandered all over the rocks, finding their own crabs and sea stars to hold and investigate.

My oldest and youngest, sharing a view.
These are the sorts of views we often get during our daily routine. Water is all around here, and I love it and need it. And like I said, it inspires me. I've begun sketching some of the critters I enjoy so much... here's a hermit crab.

And, using this tutorial from Craft, I extracted a color palette from the first photo I posted above.

The green and the dark blue are from the water. The water at that beach is full of greens--it's beautiful and nuanced, and I've noticed when my two younger kids draw water they add all sorts of colors to it, not just blue. The light blue is from the sky, and the two browns are from the sand. I want to keep playing with beach palettes. I think it might be nice to have something in beach colors when winter rolls around.

So, this is part of where I live. I hope you enjoyed the little tour. Does your local environment inspire you? In what ways? I think it's one of the luckiest things in life, to really love where you live. So much else flows from that.


Michelle said...

I love the magnet trick. And I'm a little jealous. Except we live on the coast too. Our coast just isn't quite that nice and it's a little more of a drive for us. I would like to take the kids more, and I'm sure I will as they get older and it gets easier to make the drive with them. Lately we've been enjoying all the local farms and I love that my neighborhood is surrounded on all sides by organic crop fields and horse and cow pastures. I try not to take that for granted.

MadMad said...

Very nice tour! And I can't wait to try the magnet and humming tricks this weekend!

bells said...

it's lovely to love where you live. I feel very strongly about Canberra in that way - there are parts of town that inspire me very much - we have a lot of trees here, a lot of open spaces under bright, open sky. It's beautiful.

I remember standing on beaches in your part of the world and loving the feeling of putting my feet in a different, much colder ocean.

Donna Lee said...

I love where I live (although I'd love to live closer to the ocean). I can be in the middle of the woods or at the beach with my feet in the water within 90 minutes. I like the summer most of all (although I like snow), the slowness of the days and the ease of things.

Teje said...

Lovely post! I enjoyed visiting your beach! Thank you for linking to the colours palette page - that looks interesting and I would like to try!

livnletlrn said...

Now I need to find a crab and hum to it!

Norma said...

This looks like a wonderful place to be. Always something new to discover.

I just popped over from Lamina's blog, you have some really interesting projects here. I'll be back from time to time to see what's going on :)