Our bountiful harvest of the post-storm shores / Little hands gathering bits and pieces that catch her eye / A mobile lovingly made for the growing baby.
The landscape of our town has changed. We are surrounded by beaches in most directions so the broken cliffs have effected us. Walls have been torn down by the sea, huge pieces of cliff flung about like beach balls. A couple evenings we went down to the shore and watched the waves crashing into familiar spots, reshaping the coastline.
A few weeks have past now and we seemed to have seen the back of these storms. I always remember a friend's grandfather said that after valentines day, you begin to see the shift of the season. The long dark winter slowly gives way to new life and a warm spring bubbles up. The sun lingers a little longer each day until we find ourselves discussing together how remarkably light it is so late in the evening. And every year we marvel at the truth of this statement. Its the way seasons always happen, but somehow each change feels new. This year, on the day following Valentines the sun came out. I made the most of it and walked to my parents, noting to Queenie with childish excitement every sign of spring. Tiny purple crocus bursting up among thick dirty weeds. Snowdrops showing their pretty white heads. Everywhere we saw the long stems of daffs, I gabbled about how in days we will be surrounded by a sea of yellow flowers. She was too distracted by singing birds to hear my words. She told me the sky is blue and we walked on, each step absorbing more sunshine and feeling stronger. She drifted off to sleep and I fought through the wind to sit up on a cliff, breathlessly watching out at the ocean. Deep blue as far as the eye could see.
The next day my mama took Queenie out and left dad and I making marmalade. We were slow, rereading the recipe countless times so it was a long ordeal. The oranges were left simmering in the AGA and we wandered down to the beach. Where fine sand had always been, rocks and stones piled high. Between these we found treasures. I filled my coat with the softest sea glass and chunks of blue and white pottery. Big shells and smooth stones slipped in amongst them.I've felt the shore calling since and eventually I succumb to the sirens call. Liam's sister stayed with us for a while and each day we visited a different beach. Queenie found a hollow shell and in the streams and pools filled it with water like a small cup. I watched her, proud of her little ways and in awe of her growth. Upon returning home every pocket and bag crevice was emptied. Our little haul held flat stones for painting and pretty bits were tipped into a bowl. One morning we found thousands of cockle shells washed up on Polyjoke beach. Those with sea-made holes for making filled Liam's bag, amongst them lay a handful of dull stones and bits of dry seaweed, Queenie's treasures. Later we threaded the shells together and hung them from driftwood we'd gathered the day before. I've always been this way, drawn to what the sea throws up and I'm a hoarder of natures gifts. Last week I discovered the wonderful blog This Brown Wren. I love what she makes with her daughter, beautiful decorations crafted with their foraged collections. Bringing the seasons inside. It's the way I've always wanted to parent, the way my childhood was. I'm so glad to be reaching that stage now. I clung onto this dream for years and now it is here, I'm living it with my Queenie Valentine.