The Ark of Solar Power

And so it begins. Photo courtesy of Scott Berstain
Point Judith, RI

I’ve kept to Noah’s directive for passengers aboard the Ark and sailed 50 times around an enormous spinning, shining nearly perfect sphere of hot plasma with my First Mate. Love is a lot like sunshine. Sunshine is what happens when within a tiny tad of mass a bunch of heavier and lighter elements are forced to fuse together. Their union creates a tremendous amount of nuclear energy in the form of light and heat that shapes our lives. Sunshine fuels love.

Sustaining love for over half a century requires a great deal of energy that must endure long after the big bang. People whose relationships dissipate often describe feeling that there wasn’t the right chemistry to fuel love. Blame breakups on sunshine. The sun creates energy and energy makes everything work. Being human, each person requires food – plants and animals- as fuel to energize our emotions and make relationships work. Everything we eat is essentially a smorgasbord of chemical matter that is the product of energy harvested from the sun. Some things, like mushrooms – who do not mine energy from darkness –   use energy from other living things that previously harvested their energy from sunlight. That’s one reason why most couples rely on the support – energy – of close friends of family. It takes the right chemicals – or if you’re on WW, the right diet and movement – to keep love burning strong. Love is consistent with laws of the universe, as Einstein explained, nuclear fusion happens when stuff is subjected to great pressure and heat which creates blinding energy.

Sun above and in the waves. Photo SB

Sunshine itself is as blind and out of control as a hormonally surcharged teenager’s first crush. The sun mindlessly absorbs a forest’s moisture to the point of a spontaneous combustion that leaves behind an acrid landscape. Sunlight energizes a scorched patch of earth with the power to thrive again much in the same way that broken hearts heal to love again. The sun melts polar ice caps and 7 11 slushies during the same day just like the warmth of an embrace soothes a soul and brightens our spirit.

 Some might wonder whether two elements that come together with the pressure and heat of love can sustain enough energy over 50 years to keep burning brightly. Yes, they can, though it takes a lot energy and to keep a hunk of burning love aflame for that long.  Love needs to be protected when it’s just a small flicker of warmth sputtering in the wind. Every now and then an ember of love needs a breath of fresh air to ignite. While our love burns a bit slower it’s not scorched and hasn’t cooled off.

Nothing thaws my heart as powerfully as my first mate and crew. We’ve enjoyed a half a century of solar cruising. Like all of the twosomes on the Ark we did our fair share of multiplying during the first legs of our journey, though Noah never seemed to heed Sheriff Brody’s advice to get a bigger boat as our tribe increased.

I’ve always said that I love my family more than sunshine which is contrary to logic. They are sunshine. Sunshine is energy. Energy is everything.  It’s true. Love is sunshine.

May peace warm your nights long after the sun sets. Wickford Cove, Summer 2020. JAL

Happy 50th Anniversary, George.

Watching Time


Watch me, Now.


It’s later if you think.

The endless loop of classic and current holiday carols keeps reminding us that it’s the most wonderful, hap hap happiest time of the year. That depends. Adults bemoan feeling that the year went by much too fast and there isn’t enough time to get ready for the holidays. Kids find these days dragging on way too long before it’s time to unwrap presents. As the good Dr. Suess noted, “How did it get so late so soon?”

My grand daughter is learning to tell time. She finds decoding clocks and watches to be very exciting. She also can’t wait for Christmas and can’t understand why it’s time to go to bed when she isn’t tired – just cranky – not tired. Only Peter Pan beat the clock – at the tender age of two he did not understand that children grow up. So he never grew up. Watching Elle telling time makes me feel like Wendy’s mother who cried, “Why can’t you remain like this forever!” Rather than feel sad, I’m passing on to her some things to learn about time.

images-3#1: You can’t turn back time. We can hold fast to memories of finestkind moments but to live is to leave the past behind what’s now and what will be. So let go of hurts, misgivings and anger because to be alive is to be where we are right now. We don’t need to share now with then.

#2: Spend time doing things that will have a hearty return on investment. Our favorite things don’t cost money – they take our time. Like, learning to read,  playing just for the fun of it,  messing with boars, loving others and ourselves.


If you’ve been nice – a wake up call is good. If naughty – it’s not.

#3: If you’re really happy when you’re wasting time – you’re not wasting time. The opposite is also true – if you’re miserable wasting time – you are wasting time – and none of us are given an unlimited amount of time to begin with – time doesn’t recycle and you can’t reuse it. Use it or lose it –  lost time is a shame.

#4: Wearing a watch doesn’t mean you’ll be on time. I should know – I collect watches and am chronically late. Sometimes it’s not better to be late than never.

#5: Jingle bell time is a swell time. Go ahead – rock around the clock – seize the day – it’s time. Take time to make time.

Check the time? Peter Pan was right, it’s like a ticking crocodile isn’t it? Time is chasing after all of us. I guess this means – we are all ahead of our time.




Seriously, back off. A car didn’t last week. JAL Point Judith Lighthouse

Gale force winds churn the seas and slap the coast. Force 8s, as they are called, fashion steep waves and deadly rip currents. The wave crests are sprayed skyward in a form called spindrift. The agitated seas have a deep gray hue trimmed with dull white strips of foam streaming along the wind direction. It’s as if Nature herself is blowing off steam.


Got Wet?

Nature’s tantrums make for interesting times. Summer storms are generally short and robust. Last week one hit the coast of southern Rhode Island right at the moon tide – a tide that generates the highest highs and lowest lows of the month. The Narrow River was bloated by an overdose of rain and tides shoved upstream by blustery easterly winds. I was giddy to be a part of the “inclement weather.” I yanked an old yellow slicker out of the closet, donned a cap and dragged my kids and grandkids out for a day of adventures.

We were the first ones to be seated at a local fish ‘n chips tavern for lunch – where adventures begin – quite the opposite end of the “blue haired dinner specials” crowd. We had hungry kids, a pocket full of quarters for the arcade and a dollar off coupon for the local Biome Aquarium. Winds blew, rains fell, tides raged. We went off in search of local tourist traps selling sweatshirts in a nearby fishing village. It smelled of salt and dead fish and since the sweatshirts are sold in a store on a dock – eventually we all smelled tidal.

We visited a lighthouse and gaped at the 10 to 12’ waves crashing against the steep rocky shore. We marveled at the size of waves breaking over the seawall and the enthusiasm of the surfers riding the angry surf. Sea spray coated the windshield, potholes filled with a mix of sea and rain made for slow travel. Yet the winds were balmy and the air felt more humid than drenched.


Shark Tank at the Biome. Yes, it was Shark Week.

Seemingly, every tourist in the state with a kid under 14 felt it was the perfect day to visit URI’s aquarium, the Biome. Young and old petted young sharks and learned that quahogs can live for over 500 years. The second lesson was somewhat confusing for young grandkids who can barely comprehend a 15-minute car ride but are familiar with the “catch and release” protocol of clamming at Camp Mimi.

For people who play in boats and live by water the notion of getting wet is commonplace if not the point of recreation. Making sure the bilge pump is on Auto, the dock lines are secure, and the fridge is stocked are standard precautions when heavy weather is forecasted. Gales at sea aren’t a great venue for play. Stormy summer days alongshore make for great memories. Jigsaw puzzles are splayed across kitchen tables, crayons and markers clutched in tiny hands work magic on blank sheets of paper, and good books are read.

Spindrift is harmless but the forces that create it are not. I think there is something to be learned from it whenever we fail to control the urge to blow off steam. It’s not the spindrift that hurts – it’s the underlying forces that unleash chaos. Heed your internal barometer. When you’re in a social situation where the pressure is falling, the winds blow cold and skies darken – take to the harbor. It’s the safe thing to do.


Don’t even go there.

21 Solstice

photo-3 Cairn Garden @ Narragansett


Welcome to the year’s shortest night and longest day. Rhode Island kids celebrate today’s Summer Solstice as their last day of school and the first day of summer. The sun is up, the sky is blue. Yes, dear Prudence, it’s beautiful.

The Druids erected a megalithic monument to the sun, Stonehenge, as a sacred center for healing. Recent visits to a dermatologist present a challenge for visualizing the sun as a healer. It’s almost impossible to imagine our brilliant celestial body as an evil spirit who entices cells to unceasingly divide, multiply and invade.

Settling into the Sea

The Roman’s accused the Druids of human sacrifices to the sun. The belief that humans must give life to protect life is a conundrum for healers.  Then again, as people  altered the earth and compromised her protective sky  we find ourselves more and more under the power of the sun. It’s only recently that sunbathing was condemned as a death wish. But we are human, after all, so we don’t have to sacrifice being out in the sunshine. As with random sex, we just have to wear protection.

Nick Copernicus ignited a revolution when he proposed that the sun is the center of the known universe. Copernicus’ heliocentric theory of astronomy is simple; the sun rules. Copernicus, like DaVinci, was a classic case of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. He enrolled at a university in Poland where he became fascinated by math but dropped out like Bill and Mark did before altering the world. He changed his major to religion and quickly moved up the cross to a position just below a bishop’s toe. Later he enrolled at another university to study canon law. He was distracted from his ecclesiastical studies by a theory that man not God rules the universe. With this in mind, Nicholas went to medical school. What better way is there to know the inner workings of a god?

Image A siren call for Mermaids?

Long nights of study gave the scholar time to probe the skies and ponder the mysteries of God and the universe. Copernicus’ thoughts were illuminated by the moon, stars, and candles as he tried to figure out the scientific and divine order that rules the universe. Rather than squint through a telescope mathematics were his vehicle for  exploration. As with Einstein half a millennium later, the numbers created a tapestry of brilliant insights. Copernicus understood that neither Earth nor man was the center of the universe. The cleric, physician, mathematician cum astronomer proclaimed that the sun was at the very heart of the world. Earth, he summarized was only the center of gravity and center of the moon’s orbit, but like Earth, it too circles the sun. Copernicus concluded that the circles go far beyond our ability to imagine such a vast expanse of space.

Many a time it is the warmth of the sun enveloping our bodies that illuminates our spirits and brings forth great thanks for the joy of living. We are all planetary bodies that orbit the sun. Each of us has a relative sense of gravity for little moons to circle around us throughout our lifetime. We’ve all been able to endure great grief and serious illnesses during long dark nights because of the most reliable fact known on earth, the sun will rise in the morning even if you are not there to welcome the day.

Today Druids greeted the summer solstice sun at Stonehenge. They still hold to a tradition that as stewards of the earth we are charged to love the land, sea, and sky. From here on the beloved shore of the Narrow River, I send love to all the moons who circle my life and make it bright – you are my sunshine.


When two ocean currents converge, driftwood, floating seaweed, and other flotsam tend to accumulate and create a long serpentine tideline. Lots of different things can cause currents to mate. Sometimes one body of water, like the brackish flow from our Narrow River, sinks beneath or rides over the surface of Narragansett Bay. Sometimes the wind currents play matchmaker as they take command and blend two diverse streams. When this occurs tidelines are formed by internal waves that oscillate in deeper water rather than on the surface. Sometimes the water just gets caught up with itself – swirling and whirling until it flows backwards.

ImageTidelines aren’t about tides. They are noticeable when boaters and surfers come across a line of junk that’s been cast off by nature and humans. We encounter metaphysical tidelines when summer days converge with workweeks. The former promise relaxation and the later are constrained by tight schedules. The line between the two is composed of whatever gets scuttled. Personal tidelines are created when our mind and body are blended and each gives up what it least needs to surf deep and surface waves of contentment.

Some people avoid crossing ocean tidelines because they look offensive. Ditching the debris that weighs heavy on our spirits is what summer is all about. Letting go of personal flotsam and jetsam makes summer days all the more enjoyable. Tidelines are temporary. During their brief existence they relieve two currents of stuff neither needs.

The lesson from the sea is that in order to optimize summer days, vacations, and holidays, let go of the emotional baggage, extra items on the Do List, and resistance to the natural flow of our lifestyle. At the same time, avoid cramming leisure time with unrealistic expectations and few opportunities to go quietly and deeply into your mindbody. Our work and play personas need a certain lightness of being so that we can go with the flow and take deep pleasure in waves of contentment.  That’s at least one good reason to love summer.