One of my favourite places for winter walking is Camber Sands.
Winter is the season for texture. I suspend my obsession for colour, and appreciate instead the tactile qualities of plants and surfaces. The sea grass and sand give me my texture fix.
We had parked up in Rye and walked across the marshes and down the harbour mouth. It was the highest tide I remember seeing.
Because the normally endless beach was so narrow, there was a continuous line of walkers. It looked like they had been washed up with the tide, along with the usual flotsam and jetsam.
It always pleases me how you get clearly delineated areas of seaweed, shells, stones and sand. I am a natural sorter.
Like in the garden, the sensory pleasures are endless at the beach. You can enjoy the horizontal lines of sky, sea, surf.
Or the sweeping curves of the shoreline.
The softly fizzling waves, and the glistening shells.
The sound of the waves is regular as someone breathing whilst asleep: it varies enough so as never to become monotonous.
Pebbles and shells know how to arrange themselves. They have perfect spacing.
Every step leads to a new piece of art.
Whilst Stevie and I shared a moment on the beach, the girls headed up to the sand dunes. Every time they saw me pointing a camera at them, the adopted a comedy pose.
The sky was enormous.
We started searching the dunes for the perfect spot to eat our sandwiches.
Allowing me to enjoy the sweeping curves of sand and grasses.
Even the aeroplane trails arranged themselves artfully.
It is often windy at Camber, but today it was calm, and we could feel the warmth of the winter sun as we sat and munched.
Ah. This moment.
Right here, right now, with these clouds across the sky.
The girls scampered off over the dunes again, and I trailed behind to take photos. Stevie drifted back to the beach.
Correct me if I am wrong, but it seems impossible for a grown person to hurt themselves when bouncing on sand dunes. You can run down the steepest slopes, or just fling yourself off a precipice and you will always land on your feet, rather like a cat.
This is great fun for a forty-four year old woman.
I enjoyed this for a while, and then realised I was quite far behind the others.
I launched myself down the sand-dunes, back to the beach, bounding with the grace of a leaping gazelle.
I was just replacing the lens cap on my camera, and skipping along quite happily, trying to catch up with the rest of the family, when my foot caught a stone. I managed a quite spectacular face-plant in the sand.
If you are in company and you face-plant, everyone can enjoy it. If you are on your own and you face-plant, you have to spring up quickly, as if you meant to do that, as if it was just part of your normal skipping pattern.
I think I carried it off.
Until someone called out from behind me to tell me I had dropped my water bottle. He handed it over with a little smirk.
Having regained my poise, I spotted the others. They dusted the sand from my face.
We spotted a seal just after I took this photo (I had just put my camera away and didn’t want to try my family’s patience by fishing it out again). The seal’s head was like a shiny wet pebble, easy to miss. It seemed happy to be carried along by the outflowing tide. And then it disappeared, under the surface again, not to be seen again.
It was a lovely way to end our walk.
The Mindful Gardener is taking a rest from hard work in January. There might be a little bit of pruning, but mostly staring at frost patterns and looking for snowdrops.
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