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Posts Tagged ‘veil’

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Neptune Avenue heading east, Deal, NJ.

I am lucky enough to live so close to the ocean that on some mornings sea mist tumbles down the streets. It rolls past houses and cars until the sun gets higher, sending iridescent streaks of light through it and, eventually, burns it all away.

Other days are just solid fog, no sun, and it lingers. These are the days when I tuck my point-and-shoot into my pocket and walk straight to the beach.

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Bench overlooking the jetty, Allenhurst, NJ.

Days like this, there is no horizon. No ‘you are here: X’ to pinpoint you on Earth’s map. With nearly every reliable view I count on gone, the landscape eerie, the seascape all but vanished, I might as well have been snatched up and plunked down onto another planet.

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Fisherman on the jetty, Allenhurst.

Or it’s as if I am in a 1950s B movie.

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Jetty and waves, but no horizon.

But I don’t find it terrifying; I find it the opposite of terrifying. To stand on the beach and be utterly disoriented, not to see anything beyond 20 feet in any direction, is fascinating. I grew up here and could walk this beach blindfold—and am. I’m wearing Harry’s loose and misty invisibility cloak, and it extends for miles up the windswept coast.

Wait wait wait…or is it less a cloak than another veil the universe sent me?

If so, it’s the wildest ever. Sold.

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Dune and fog.

To get my bearings, I look down and see what the waves and weather have produced.

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Skate (a type of ray) egg case.

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High tide patterns on the powdery dark lagoon sand.

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Taking the veil home with me. Here it is clinging to my black wool pea coat. It’s nice to be enveloped now and again.

Afterward it’s warm-up time. I know, it’s late in the season for hot chocolate.

No, it isn’t.

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A couple of weeks ago I read about a grandmother who, when covering her rising bread dough to hold in moisture, called it ‘veiling the bowl.’ And this is where it gets bizarre. From then on, I kept seeing veils everywhere.

A reader posted a photo of blue-veiled Indian women. I saw more veil references in my reading. One described illusion as a type of veil. Another called tears a veil. Still others discussed the role of veils throughout history. A woman in a veil is often a woman in transition—in mourning, in travel, about to be wed. She is in a liminal state, poised in a soulful world of her own, all the while walking in the topside world. There’s a certain power held by a woman who wears a veil; she stands among us, but is to a great extent untouchable. Everyone who beholds a veiled woman senses this power. It’s a silent warning that she is not to be disturbed, much like dough rising. She has work to do. And it can be mesmerizing to behold.

I spent a good portion of the winter under the throw that I mention often, writing, snoozing, thinking, and generally being soothed. It’s a fleecy sanctuary…and another veil. There’s more: I’ve felt most comfortable with my hair almost entirely down. (Another.) I’ve felt compelled to stand at the ocean’s edge and dip my fingers in the salt water, much like my own tears, and run them across my cheeks. (Yep.)

But then, it’s been a long and tough winter. From old to new thinking, from cold to warmth, from illusion to the not-always-comfy chair of reality, I’ve been incubating. For good, I hope.

There’s a Puritanical and misguided rule among many women (and men) that to allow time and peace to incubate is wasted time, or even more damning—frivolous and self-indulgent time. No. It’s in these moments that we can discern what works in our lives and what doesn’t, dispel truth from illusion, administer medicine to the hurt places, and cultivate strength for what’s ahead. The topside world can and will dry you out. Don’t ever apologize for going under the veil.

Last Friday I baked Easter bread, a three-generation tradition. There it is incubating, above and just below. This was one of my more successful years, despite my own liminal state. With a veil (a well-used cotton cloth), some warmth, some moisture, and some peace, the bread became just what it was meant to be: tender and spicy and resilient—quite the revelation, if I say so myself.

And there I am, incubating far below. Shooting for the same result.

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