Posts Tagged ‘Loch Arbour’


Votive during Hurricane Sandy, on the first night with no power.

Contrasts that work together seamlessly—this is one of the love affairs I have with the world.

The darkness makes the light beautiful.


Incandescent bulbs glow at Days in Ocean Grove, NJ. They have been serving ice cream in a dreamy and romantic setting since 1876.


Tide pool reflecting sunset, Loch Arbour, NJ.


Eggs in light and shadow.


Clipped maple branches in a winter shaft of light. Emily Dickinson would approve.


Maple leaf and grass, just after sunrise.


Sourdough toast and melting butter, late afternoon.

It’s when the sun heads to the other side of the globe and darkness takes the wheel—that’s when the light really pops. We don’t get to see this when the summer sun floods our vision. Compare summer’s ubiquitous light to the drama of a late-fall afternoon—thick, gunpowder-grey clouds balancing on the tops of the trees, when POW a slant of sunlight gleams through…I kind of live for that beauty.


When I was a kid in art class, I loved when the teacher had us draw a picture in crayon, using only the brightest colors, and then paint right on top of it in solid black tempera paint, all the way to the edges of the paper. Once the paint was dry, we were given toothpicks to use to scratch away the paint in any design we liked. And we watched the colors beneath our swirls and scribbles emerge, psychedelic. (It was the ’70s; we had a standard to uphold.)


Being backstage during a performance means being in very little light. There’s some ambient light from the stage, but the only steady light is the blue glow from one or two clip lights and from the monitor with a live feed of the conductor (for the actors to watch for tempo). I cast the light from my Mag down at an actor’s shoe as he’s trying to tie it and dash on within two measures, and cast it up again to affix mic tape to the side of another actor’s face, and see the relief on her face when we attach it in time. Backstage is dangerous with moving people and parts, we techs navigating 300-lb. units through narrow spaces and with split-second accuracy, but that little bit of light against all of that darkness and danger is especially beautiful. Strange, right? Or maybe I just love the work.


In the house where I grew up there were windows on either side of the balcony. I never paid attention to them until Christmastime. We had small floodlights positioned on the side lawn, focused on the Christmas tree, and some of that chilly yellow-white light was cast sideways through the windows. I remember how otherworldly it looked in the black night, in a snowfall.


How many new stories are, and were, told now? How many ideas are brewed, theories proven, recipes tested and tasted, moments of enlightenment reached, during the dark months? Up against firelight, stove light, lamplight, candlelight? I’m thinking quite a few, and I’m thinking it’s because now we have the right stark physical backdrop to throw the ideas up against, and to test their merit. Bright light diffuses the edges of things. It’s against darkness that we can see dimension and shape.


There might be a point to the turn of the year beyond the science of the seasons; it might be the universe giving us the opportunity to see things with a new perspective, and gain a new understanding of them. Maybe this time is not about darkness and cold and loss. Maybe it’s a shot at a different brand of wisdom.

Read Full Post »

one evening last week at high tide I took a walk on the beach. sky full-metal-jacket grey, water choked with yellow foam and unusually rough, tide you can taste before you even see it. (beach people know what I mean, right? you’re all smiling and nodding your heads.) you’d think the place would be deserted, save for an errant seagull with a death wish.

but it’s at times like this that you see fishermen in long windbreakers and waist-high boots, heading down the stone driveway and taking a place along the edge of the voracious surf. they could be home eating takeout from peking house, letting their eyes glaze in front of the game or angry birds or talking the plusses and minuses of drywall with their housemate. warm, dry…safe.

instead they’re here, at the very edge of the eastern seaboard, and on a night that feels very much like the eastern seaboard is the precarious edge of the world. always wondered what the draw was. so this time I asked.

I  approached a guy and yelled, “what are ya trying for?”

he turned around. mid-twenties. “what?”

“what are ya trying for?”

“oh! striped bass!”

now I love fish, but have never eaten a striper, let alone one fresh caught. “what do they taste like?”

I’m not kidding—his face lit up like a christmas tree. “the best!’

he pulled a wad of plant life off his hook and complained that there was too much seaweed. I told him I’d heard they call that an irish flounder. he said, “or grass bass!” I laughed and told him to break a leg.

this was at the northern end of allenhurst’s beach. on what we locals call the surfers’ beach, the scrap of sand between allenhurst and loch arbour, I came across fisherman #2, in his late fifties.

he saw me first, almost toppled over into a wave, and yelled that he must be crazy to be there. then he laughed. I asked him the same question—what are you trying for?—and he gave the same answer.

“they bite well in this tide?”

“OH yeah!”

“what do they taste like?”

again the rapturous expression. “like lobster. not fishy like bluefish. firm.”

“how do you cook it?”

“steamed–that’s the best way.”

“a little lemon?”


there are arguably better places to pick up recipes than next to a natural force that keeps hinting that it wants to kill you, but then again, maybe there aren’t.

remember, these guys aren’t home eating takeout. it must be worth it.

now I have to get their names…and ask how much for their next catch.

Read Full Post »