Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Corner View -- The Beach

This week's theme for Corner View is the beach, and because I live about seven miles from the coast of southern California, it seems too easy to post photos of it, even if it is my corner of the world.

Instead, though, I'm reposting something I wrote about Sophie, my daughter, who loves the beach more than anything. We went in early March, on her birthday.

The Selkie

So hope for a great sea-change
On the far side of revenge
Believe that a further shore
Is reachable from here.
Believe in miracles
And cures and healing wells.

The Cure at Troy by Seamus Heaney

The last movie I saw before I gave birth to Sophie was based on a story about selkies called "The Secret of Roan Innish." A weird and wonderful movie, it would become almost emblematic for me after Sophie was born and we found ourselves on the path that would lead us to California. Celtic mythology relating to the sea is magical, and what has always fascinated me were the stories of selkies -- seals who shed their skins and take human form. A female Selkie leaves her skin and comes ashore as a beautiful maiden, and while most sea creatures in myth are frightening or hostile, seals, with their soft, mournful eyes are transformed into gentle earthly beings. If humans capture her skin, the selkie is forced to stay human and is described, generally, as a fine, wistful woman. If she finds her skin, however, she immediately returns to the sea, leaving those she loves to mourn for her.

Sophie's hair is soft and curly and her features are fine. She holds herself delicately, almost gingerly, and is often described as otherworldly. When we began taking her to an osteopath in southern California after a good year's worth of fruitless medical treatment in New York, we noticed that her symptoms subsided by the ocean. Fourteen years later, to this day, Sophie is transformed by the ocean. The moment her bare feet feel the sand, she pulls insistently toward the water. We have said that the water is pulling her toward it, so dramatic is the change in her level of alertness. She doesn't have seizures by the sea. She looks out, over it and smiles a half-smile. I like to think that like a selkie she is searching for her lost world and that she is actually lost in ours. She shed her skin and was born to me, pulled unwittingly into a world that insists on keeping her.

We went to the ocean today, Sophie and I. We walked on the sand and down to the water. Sophie lifted her head and really gazed out to the sea. Happy Birthday, my Sophie-girl, my selkie.

Enjoy corner views of the beach from all over the world:


  1. This was a beautiful post the first go around .... and I'm quite happy to revisit it :)

    Beautiful beautiful

  2. love this post
    love the beach
    love you

  3. I love the post and the lovely word pictures. I'm so very glad to see this picture of her again - it is my favorite and I have missed it on your header - she really is stunning.
    The selkie poem - I loved the first time I read it - I think it was the first time I read your blog. Beautiful hon!! Sarah

  4. I'm sure your selkie daughter is feeling at home right with you. And I'm glad you live by the ocean. Happy birthday!

  5. Very cool. I love how you put this post together.

  6. beautiful. sophie, her name, and her poem.

  7. The sea has such a pull on many of us - why shouldn't it be so for Sophie!

    Beautiful post.

  8. I love the beach, too. I live about twenty minutes away. I can't explain why I love it...

  9. This is a post I will remember for years. What a beautiful depiction of Sophie and her water.

  10. Oh, how I love to see her beautiful face. That photo is so precious.

  11. This is written so magical. Your daughter, Sophie is beautiful!! Thanks for sharing a special corner of your world. xoxo

  12. Happy Birthday Sophie-girl. Happy Birthday your mother's selkie.

    Beautiful Elizabeth and as soon as I can I will come a build a little beach house just for you and your beautiful Sophie.

    The most beautiful post I have ever read.

    Sophie looks very beautiful here.

    Love Renee xoxo

  13. lovely.

    really really lovely.

  14. This is my favorite ´Beach´ post for sure! So touching!
    Big hug, Jeannette

  15. I loved that movie and still remember it vividly. So happy that Sophie has this place she adores.

  16. Oh, Elizabeth, that is beautiful! I will look at the ocean so differently now! Gorgeous picture of Sophie! Thanks for letting us in on your journey. It is a beautiful one!

    Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

    (p.s. I'm, obviously, so slow is getting to all the corner views too this week...)


  17. This photo of your daughter is so very lovely...and "The Secret of Roan Inish" is one of my most favorite movies...I adore anything of an Irish legend or myth...I am enjoying your blog so very much...



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