Delights: June 10 to June 16

June 10: “Excuse me. May I reach under your chair?” I turned away from the ocean to look up at a teenage boy. “I didn’t want to startle you. But there’s a crab crawling right where your sitting.” 

I graciously rose. (I had originally typed “gracefully,” but that wouldn’t be true.) My new friend groped under the sagging canvas of my beach chair. A teenage girl looked on. “He’s good at catching them,” she explained. And he was. With the sand crab in hand at last, we all leaned forward to admire my saucer-sized visitor and take turns holding it. (I declined; I don’t say yes to everything.) 

My teenaged friend asked my name, and I asked his (Xander). Then he set the crab back on the sand and we watched as the crab scuttled in that sidewise ambulation they really do have. The teenagers followed the sand crab a bit more — we all laughed to see how fast it could scoot — and then we returned to our umbrellas. 

“We live in Ocean City,” Xander said. “Maybe we’ll see you again sometime?”

As I drove home from Assateague, I caught glimpses of an aerialist practicing stunts for this weekend’s air show. When I looked up again, I saw the plane had looped an enormous heart against the blue sky. Yes, Xander, I hope I see you too.

I thanked the bathroom attendant earlier today for keeping the Assateague restrooms clean (even though I rued his timing and barely made it to the alternate facilities). When I packed up my gear later in the afternoon, I found these cactus flowers along the restroom wall.

June 11: In Berlin, Maryland, a young woman sat in an overgrown cupcake tin mounted on wheels, with cake pans for hubcaps and cooking utensils for fenders. At the starting line, a colleague gripped the handlebar behind her and stretched back in a racing stance. My favorite beachside café would take on our plumber (plastic water tank; metal pipes) in Berlin’s annual Bathtub Race.

Crowds pressed four-deep along the sidewalk to watch the competition. Racers included a local theater, a brewery, a meadery (bumblebee-striped tub; wings), an ice cream shop (which careened into the hay bales lining the sidewalk), a bearded men society, and the City of Berlin (with the Mayor himself in the tub). A local radio station called play-by-play and kids shimmied with hula hoops on the street during commercial breaks. 

Here’s a glimpse…

The eventual winner (a local relator) and the Mayor of Berlin.

During the bathtub races, I stood next to an elderly bright-eyed woman in a wheelchair, accompanied by her daughter. The bright-eyed woman, named Letty, clapped along to The Who and Stevie Wonder and smiled at everything. “I take her different places, and I take a lot of pictures,” her daughter said. “She has so much fun, but she won’t remember. The photos help.”

The photos help, indeed. My Mom would have loved the bathtub races too. (As her town’s Mayor, I’m not sure she would have gotten into a tub, though.) Letty’s daughter and I talked about our moms and the outings we took together. 

In the years before my Mom died, she and I had enjoyed Memorial Day, baseball games, Abraham Lincoln, Peruvian Scissor dancers, a butterfly garden and so much more. Letty turned to me. “Tell your mother I say hello.” I will. 

June 12: Our minister plucked an improbable reading from today’s lectionary: the Gifts of Wisdom from the Book of Proverbs, 8:1-4, 22-31. The passage describes Wisdom as a woman standing at the crossroads exclaiming, “To you, O people, I call, and my cry is to all who live.” She says, “The Lord created me at the beginning of his work . . . I was beside him, like a little child, and I was daily his delight, playing before him always, playing in his inhabited world, and delighting in the human race.”

We strive to be good, patient, and kind. We strive to be wise. This passage reminds us of something more. As our minister said, “Wisdom invites us to play. How will you respond?”

Another one of Kevin’s beautiful sunsets over Sinepuxent Bay on Assateague Island.

June 13: I realized I didn’t know much about Picasso’s “Blue Period,” so I visited the Phillips Collection’s stunning exhibit to learn more. (Besides, the Phillips had assembled 60+ Picassos from all over the world; that was reason enough.)

I knew about Picasso’s misogyny (and worse). What I found, though, were works of deep tenderness and compassion. Painted at ferocious speed when Picasso was 19 and 20 years old, these paintings used Christian iconography to illuminate the residents of Saint-Lazare, a prison workhouse for poor, diseased, discarded women. For nearly two hours I inhabited this sad blue space where Picasso wrapped despair in sacramental dignity. 

Picasso’s Blue Period lasted only a few years, and he dashed off to experiment with rose colors, African-influences, cubism and more. I’m grateful I glimpsed his work from a period when he touched his subjects’ soul. And mine.

“Mother and Child by a Fountain,” 1901, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
“Mother and Child by the Sea,” 1901-02, Pola Museum of Art, Hakone, Japan

June 14: Jeremiah gestured to the shady bench and we sat down. We’d just come from a pancake breakfast where, for some reason the tiny metal cups of whipped butter always inspire deep conversation. (Today’s topic: the attributes of folk hero outlaws in long-ago and modern times, inspired by Woody Guthrie’s Pretty Boy Floyd.)

Now, outside the comic book store Jeremiah held a slim package of Magic cards we’d just bought. “C’mon, Mom. Let’s see what we’ve got.” (Jeremiah had built me a special deck for my birthday and he was teaching me to play Magic: The Gathering.) 

One by one, Jeremiah handed me the cards, encouraging me to admire the artwork and consider the card’s potential. When we got home, under Jeremiah’s guidance, I did the hard work of exiling cards from my Birthday Deck to make room for three better cards. 

Having already made one set of tough choices, I turned to the teetering pile of leftover food containers and went to work.

“Mother and Child by the Sea,” 1902, private collection.

June 15: I was driving gently through town and just wasn’t feeling the Led Zeppelin slashing through my CD player. So, with no idea what awaited me, I changed discs. Out poured sunshine, in the form of the Clancy Brothers, circa 1973, in their fishermen’s sweaters and apple-cheek smiles. I grinned all the way to the dentist.

“Woman Ironing,” 1901, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. This is my favorite, because of its close cropping and bone-deep weariness and despair. Picasso forces me to look and to feel.

June 16: By chance, I parked near the tree section of our local nursery in my quest for lemon basil. I stepped off the scorching asphalt into a grove of birch, maple and fig. Saplings of oak and elm hugged other paths, and the air was rich with moist earth, soft shade and a tree-y sweetness.

I have a book with me. Do you think they’d mind if I perched on a tub for a few minutes to read? Or to record my delight?

Kevin photographed these wild horses on Assateague, next to the bike path.

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These fungi decided to visit my pot of lilies.

34 thoughts on “Delights: June 10 to June 16

  1. The scene: an open plan office with hardly anyone in it, it being a Friday. An attempt being made by the sun to shine. A bored Barbara who has just read a depressing document brightens up at a the site of so many wonderful delights in a fellow blogger’s week…from meeting a crab on the beach, to visiting the Picasso exhibition to memories and a cup cake race…..what a fabulous week!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, Barbara, that’s a funny (and sweet) snapshot of your visit to my post. (I’m glad to call you by your name.) Your tea and scone soothed me during my dentist visit this week; I’m glad I could return the favor. Thank you for everything.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Once again I find myself in awe of the variety and sheer scale of the activities you pack into a period of seven days. Life lived to the full, I think.

    One of the joys of our many trips to US was to have pancakes for breakfast. That’s not part of our culture here and it seems so divinely decadent, although none of the breakfasts we enjoyed ever prompted a discussion of Pretty Boy Floyd! I know the song well (the Joan Baez cover) and feel it portrays him as a latter-day, US version of our own Robin Hood. Well at least Floyd existed, which I fear Hood sadly did not, although my reading around his life suggests he wasn’t quite the fine, upstanding character that Guthrie’s lyrics propose? But never mind, I love the song, almost as much as I love the vision in my mind’s eye of a gauche teenager scrambling desperately underneath your beach chair in pursuit of crabs…priceless!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your post made me laugh out loud! (The teenager was quite polite and he didn’t reach under the chair until I’d gotten up… Indeed, he saved me from seeing the crab scuttle between my legs!)

      I agree about Pretty Boy Floyd, and that’s part of the mystery to me (and Jeremiah) about these folk hero outlaws: they commit odious crimes and build a hero’s myth anyway. Why????

      Ah, pancakes. Yes, the come in all varieties. Jeremiah and I sometimes will get pumpkin, chocolate chip, lacy thin potato and blueberry pancakes — with lots of leftovers! Divinely decadent, indeed.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “Some will rob you with a six-gun. And some with a fountain pen.” Loved the bright faces of Xander and his friend. Hope for the future.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, you found one of Woody Guthrie’s best line. (As a writer, you spot them immediately!) It’s a powerful commentary that sadly resonates for many today.

      Yes, Xander is hope for the future. I’m not sure I would have approached a stranger as he did. His willingness to take a (relationship) chance delighted us all — and gives me hope too.


  4. The 🦀 photo and story got me, does it bite?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi! Thanks for stopping by. I’m glad you liked the crab story. It was quite a surprise to me too. (Cute emoji!) I’m told that sand crabs do bite (= probably snap with their claws), so my new friend was careful how he held it. I didn’t want to try!

      I hope you visit again!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Okay dear, thanks for explaining..surely I’ll visit 🥰

        Liked by 1 person

  5. As a teen seeking my place in the world, Picasso was not one of my favourite artists – it was difficult for me to see the beauty. As a young adult, I found my way to Musée Picasso Paris and his world suddenly opened to me. Viewing his work chronologically, the curation in the 1990s allowed me to see beyond the art into the man,; it struck a chord close to my heart of despair & hurt. Perhaps I was intellectually more ready and that helped mediate the emotional response. After that visit, and even now, I can’t say that Picasso is a favourite artist, but I view his work with a great deal more appreciation & empathy.

    I love & feel your commentary on “Woman Ironing”: “This is my favorite, because of its close cropping and bone-deep weariness and despair. Picasso forces me to look and to feel.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Ju-Lyn, for sharing your journey through Picasso’s work and for your reminding me of his own hurt and despair. Like you, Picasso has never been one of my favorite artists. Perhaps that’s one reason I was so moved by the poignancy of his early work.


      1. This encounter was the first time I realised how getting to know an artist could illuminate their work – an opportunity to go beyond just liking it or disliking the art.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Those crab 🦀 caught my attention and I must run away. I would not hold the crab . Thanks for sharing Anita

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for joining me in marveling (?) about my crab experience, Anita! As I look at the feature photo again, I see Xander was trying to teach me how to hold it. Like you, I say “no thank you!” and will keep my distance!


  7. I think that you were both gracefull and gracious. I’m sure that I would have been neither if a (biting) sandcrab was found underneath my chair! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your comment made me laugh out loud! It’s amazing how calm I can be when I don’t know I’m actually in peril…


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