I wiped away the weeds & foam. / I fetched my sea-born treasures home... Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, March 29, 2010

Upcycled Sunday

Reuse, revisit, reinvent = rewards!
Sometimes it is good to be the accumulator of cast-off treasures. I hesitate to say JUNK, although....that eye of the beholder thing, y'know?

The spring holidays are here along with the birds and the flowering daffodils. Time for family dinners, visits with old friends---and time for the dreaded but oh so pleasing-when-done spring cleaning. Last week after I dusted and scrubbed I decided my guest bathroom needed a little lift to welcome a dear friend who was coming for the weekend. And you know how that is---the stores were full of browns and dark greens and deep blues---nothing bright or white at all. Grrrr!
Finally at BJ's (a big box store similar to Costco or Price Club), while hunting for gourmet cheese and fresh flowers, I spied their simple white bath accessories. Great white spa bath mats and fluffy classic white towels--the price was right but the hand towels lacked---something?
Out came my collection of vintage and antique laces, a recent winter's gift from another friend.

Old laces are sometimes more sturdy than we realize---they are usually cotton, and densely worked with high twist, strong thread.

I couldn't bring myself to use the gorgeous hearts or LOVE edging [below]---I will save those for pillowcases.

But I did finally choose a nicely age-tinted, rather geometric lace. Isn't it great! I love the sepia brown color, almost ochre.

So simple to sew on with a zigzag stitch top and bottom. Or if you don't want to pull out the sewing machine, they could be hand sewn with a running stitch in just a few minutes.

Here is a towel on an old Swedish pine washstand.

And here they are in a Nantucket basket made by my sister! So pretty!

Or here with one of my lavender-filled hearts...

No lace around?

You could use mother of pearl buttons from your "stash"...

or a seashell trim from the craft store!

[be careful when you wash this version! I put the fingertip towels in a mesh bag so stray beads don't clog the washing machine.]
I can't wait to make more!

PS: Later---another storm brewing!---I made matzo ball soup. The box caught my eye at the grocery store and I figured, Why not?

I loooove matzo ball soup! Especially on a chilly rainy night. Not as good as from the kosher deli or my mother-in-law's kitchen ( all that love stired in!)..but pretty darn good!


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Spring is Blowing In

It is still March and it is still verrrry windy here at the beach!

The migratory birds of the shore and marshes arrive daily, despite the many storms and near-hurricane force winds.The piping plovers arrived on Monday the 22nd, early for them.

This tiny lady found her beach quite depleted...[she is in the center of the pix, just in front of the dune grass, see her?]

.... but somehow she has returned to almost the spot where she nested last year!
She is camouflaged, behind the mesh, center, second row from the bottom....If you enlarge the photo and zoom, you can find her!

These little birds---piping plovers---must have an amazing kind of natural GPS!She returns to almost the identical spot each year, whatever the conditions or proximity of the waves.
And the beautiful, majestic ospreys have returned to the marsh.....rebuilding on their nesting site.

The nest is far out on the marsh, photos were taken with a special lens.

And today a seal visited the beach! It came out of the surf, saw the oystercatchers and me---

and back into the waves he went. He is the dark shape just below:

The storms and high winds have changed the beach. But it is always beautiful. And there are always treasures to be found...

pocket gleanings with artificial eggs/ faux nest!


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Welcome Spring!

March 20, 2010~ Spring has arrived and with it came some very lovely, warm and sunny days! Soon it will be Easter, so here are a few ideas....
isn't he adorable!

Here are some very pastel speckled eggs in a Staffordshire footed bowl....

Tissue-paper thin pink ranunculas, blue hyacinth and Cadbury eaggs in an old Mason jar...

a primly repurposed bunny....So sweet!

Easter egg pink tulips in a green majolica pitcher with a bunnies motif....

Prim gathering: speckled eggs and chocolate bunny in a sparrow-egg green graniteware bowl---a tiny vintage "find" from last summer's flea market....

Tiniest vintage baby's Easter dresses and classic fluffy chickies in brilliant green!

Some sweetly scented hearts for a big girl's Easter basket? Some are prim....with very special bunny buttons!

and some are elegant. Lemon verbena, lavender and peaches scents, yum!

My table here at The Beach...I am keeping it simple, primitive---speckled eggs and spongeware and graniteware in classic blue and white with a faded turquoise quilt. So pretty!

Happy Spring!



Monday, March 15, 2010


March 13 & 14, 2010~
"weather alert: winds: sustained speeds up to 60MPH, gusts up to 75 MPH; coastal flooding and severe beach erosion; new moon tides 4 feet above normal....Wave heights up to 25 feet on south shore...."
the day before....

the storm.....

the next day....

Good weather for sewing...
...hearts and quilts!


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Update-They're Back!

March 11, 2010. The oystercatchers arrived today! Right on schedule.

I was so pleased and excited to see them---I've been walking the shoreline daily, awaiting their appearance so I am sure this is their first day. Small groups of 3 and 5 were flying in even as I watched, including my small trio, ménage a trois, that nest in the western dune overlooking the ocean. I think it is a pair and each year a surviving baby from the previous summer. One had a tinge on rusty brown on his back. All three were preening and displaying, no sign of flight exhaustion---and by the end of my hour's walk, the two "adults" had shooed away the third little guy. He looked so sad, alone on the shore, eyes peeled for the new flocks arriving, hoping to see his bride!!! Or---oyster dinner?
Great beachcombing too!

Look at my treasures! I love the white pebbles like jelly beans, great in a bowl with a white candle.

And what a find! An 1800s patent medicine bottle. It says: VITAMI...and misspelled or foreign: ISTITUTI???....
It is very worn but recently broken. I know I'll spend the whole summer looking for the rest of it. Bottles like this are very rare!

It's grey, it's windy, a damp chill is in the air.  A storm looms to the east...it's March. And despite all that, I know that Spring is near: No pretty flocks of robins for us...but the oystercatchers have arrived.
{more about my shorebirds in the preceding story!}




Wednesday, March 10, 2010


In these last frozen days of winter ...

                                  huge flock of sanderlings arriving at dusk, early March, as the snow falls
it is to hard imagine that the shorebirds will return by mid-March. Usually the oystercatchers arrive on the heels of the sanderlings [sandpipers] who are arriving by the thousands daily.
The clownish black, white and orange oystercatchers are always here by St. Paddy's Day---though this exceptionally cold winter could delay their appearance.

                                                                              mama oystercatcher and baby


                                                                             oystercatchers with"teenage" chicks
My favorite mallards are back too!

Swimming in colorful pairs in the vernal storm- and tide- ponds that we call swales. Mallard ducks are not ocean ducks, they are dabblers who normally frequent freshwater ponds or streams, but in recent years a small flock has made my dunes theirhome. Each year I wait for them to nest here--but no. Probably because the pond dries up by late summer? Or they are put off by the many humans using the summer beaches; mallards are very shy birds.
Sometimes they are joined by Canada geese and brandts,

though these too are a rare sight on the open ocean beach. (It's a "well-known fact" that geese love golf courses and soccer fields---green grass and open spaces.) Yet a small band waddle in each spring, many with yellow neck tags, signifying---something?
The plovers will come in April,
                                                                       piping plover on her nest
Then in June and July the terns and skimmers arrive last, stopping here at the beach to nest. No arctic trek for these guys!
                                                                              black skimmers w/ chicks

No pretty songbirds for us here at the beach but beautiful and wondrous all the same.
And, oh look how fun! a great find at HG:
A perfect Oystercatcher decoy.
And here's an arctic tern...in turquoise plumage, but realistic nevertheless.

                                    arctic tern & white shells/white ironstone bowl
Plus some rare treasures: authentic beach combed decoys....
a handpainted wooden black duck. And a very rare Arctic tern, also handmade, cut from wood.
So now, as the day darkens at 6 PM I set off for home with the words of one of my favorite nature writers echoing in my head:
"...when darkness lays itself down over Nantucket Sound and the ferry's horn is the last recognizable voice we hear before heading home for the last time each day./// It will be July soon enough...and long before that we will have the joys of the squeaky-hinge song of the returning red-winged blackbirds, the tinny voices of the peepers, the velvet of the pussy willow catkins, the unfurling welcome of the fiddleheads, crows and gulls in great numbers, and the osprey and marsh hawks riding the currents drifting in the ocean of air.
Spring is already here, where we have held it all winter: in our hearts."
Spring?---or Summer for those of us here at The Beach.

Aren't her words beautiful?

North Cairn's Nature column runs every Sunday in the Cape Cod Times. She can be reached at ncairn@capecodonline.com.


PS-All photos, including wildlife pix, migrating birds taken by me here at my beach.