Walk Publishing LLC is proud to have published these three outstanding hardcover and softcover books. Our high quality printing and papers bring out the beauty of the water color paintings of the artist-author. And most importantly, the excellent reviews of these books attest to our featuring of Audrey Shumacher Moe’s books on this website.
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Walk Publishing LLC has more recently published a fun, quick read, paperback: Celebrities in Hiding. In this book, you will find the same skill and artistic talent that makes Beachwalk and Desertwalk so special, applied in Celebrities to bring life to interesting true stories about celebrities in The Desert.
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...On my beachwalk this morning I sit absorbing the moisture and the moment as I filter tiny grains of shiny quartz sand through my fingers. The salt of the sea rubs off and sticks to my hand, leaving a residue I try to brush off on my jacket. But my fingers continue to feel damp and I realize I can’t brush off the sea. It clings to me with a magnetism that heals as it pulls me close and seeps into my inner being. When I first began walking the beach, I did not know there is a healing the sea brings. It rolls in with every breaking wave, spraying its spirit upon the shore in misty droplets and hangs suspended, waiting to be inhaled by any willing wanderer. Like the laying on of hands, it has power for those who embrace it.
My first times spent on this wild, deserted beach were adventures so new to me I could only appreciate a sense of being here, recognizing I was ignorant of most of its aspects. Every shell, plant and bit of sea life was a mystery to me, but something I wanted to know about. So for my own satisfaction, I began to research and collect information. As time went by and I learned about the sea and the mysteries offered up on its sandy, rocky shore, I was surprised to find I was learning about myself as well. And this is how my concept of beachwalk came into being...
...It is January 1st, New Year’s Day. While most people are watching football bowl games, I prefer to spend the afternoon at the beach checking out tide pools. An exceptionally low tide has left a wide expanse of uneven sand and rocky basins filled with sea water, a perfect invitation for observation of intertidal dwellers hidden in nooks amidst seaweed and algae covered rocks. Clumps of surf grass, ordinarily undulating back and forth with each wave surge, now lie flat upon the sea-sculpted, rock layer separating sandy beach from deeper water off shore. Missing is the vibrant, pulsating sound of booming waves; there is no ebb and flow of swirling sea water from the surf. Instead, a stillness prevails. The beach is transformed into a quiet garden of shallow pools filled with intertidal sea life.
As I pick my way over slippery, algae-covered rocks peppered with tiny Periwinkle Snails, I try to avoid crushing them with my feet while making my way seaward. But their abundance defeats my efforts. I pause and crouch down to watch Turban Snail shells inhabited by Hermit Crabs move slowly across the bottom of a pool, leaving wiggly trails in the sand. A brief silver flash catches the corner of my eye as an Opaleye, alerted by my shadow crossing its pool, scurries for cover. I sit quietly and wait until this minnow-sized fish, sensing no movement above, feels safe enough to leave its hiding place and swim confidently around...
...Covered with sweat, my windbreaker plastered to my back from fine mist in the pale morning, my walk nearly finished, I climb the drainage channel to head for home, a warm shower and some breakfast. At the top of the bluff I pause and turn back for one last look at the sandy shoreline and seemingly infinite sea spread before me. There, in the middle of my living seascape, an enormous dark shape explodes from the gray water amid a cloak of foam and spray. Twisting in mid air, the whale throws sheets of water skyward as it crashes back into the white-capped waves. I stand almost paralyzed with amazement and awe, watching, as another gigantic black shape rises from the depths, spirals in the air and splashes down into waves and foam. “Whales, breaching,” I whisper aloud, as I stand, afraid to blink, for fear I will miss an instant of this incredible sight.
This was my first breathtaking whale watching experience at Crystal Cove. Other times, I had witnessed whales spouting, spewing columns of moist, hot breath into the air as they surfaced to breathe. I had marveled at the sight of their two-lobed, black, tail flukes flipping gracefully above the water’s surface in preparation for a deep dive. But had it not been my habit to pause on the bluff top at the end of my walk for one final appreciative look at the primal beauty of this beach, I would have missed this rare moment of spectacular behavior...
...Each of us has certain nostalgic scents that conjure up past images. As we are the sum of our experiences, scent memories make powerful contributions to life’s meaning. A pleasure picture that flashes into my mind, triggered by a past smell adds to my happiness. The scent inspired pictures that dredge up bad memories, I try to tape over with a new and better version. For many years, I hated the smell of apple juice because it brought back the unpleasantness of drinking an anti-nausea drug in apple juice when I was going through chemotherapy for cancer. Little by little I have replaced the dreaded apple smell image with the idea of a crisp, fresh apple as a healthy food, one that is good for my body. I still don’t relish apple juice, but I have learned to drink it without bad memories.
Smells that recall pleasurable events or those I want to remember because they were special in some way, I easily retain. I don’t want my scent memories to fade away and escape my perception. I want them to seep into my soul and give me comfort...
...The day begins with a thin shelf of gray clouds hanging over a noisy metallic sea. To the south, scattered patches of darker sky cast deep purple shadows onto the water below. A stiff breeze from the northwest flattens my light windbreaker against my back and ruffles my hair. I watch a red and white styrofoam lobster float bounce up and down against the rocks at Pelican Point as the incoming tide struggles to free it from the braided nylon rope and wire trap wedged between two large boulders. Long strands of brown kelp half buried in the sand twist around the yellow rope, anchoring it even more securely among the rocks. I wonder if I can get close enough to cut its bindings and carry the red and white cylinder home with me as a prized addition to the lobster floats I’ve collected over the years.
For as long as I’ve been coming to this beach, every stray float I’ve found cast upon the sand has ended up in my yard. “Why?” I ask myself. “What is there about finding something on the beach that compels me to carry it home?” I certainly have no good use for a multitude of stray lobster buoys. Their bright paint box colors of purple, yellow, orange, red and green attract me. But surely their appeal is more than just color. Many were so difficult to separate from the long lines securing them to their wire traps that I now carry a small jackknife in my beachwalk pack. I use it primarily to rescue birds caught in loops of fishing line, but it also comes in handy to sever the thick nylon rope attached to a beached lobster float. It takes firm pressure and a long time to saw through each sturdy strand of braided nylon and I usually end up with blisters from my effort. Sometimes I’m lucky and can untie the knots, and sometimes I have to give up and leave the float in its bed of sand and seaweed. I realize the float caught in the rocks today is one of those teasers, so I leave it to continue its dance with the surf...
...A cold, hard winter rain drenches the land and sea alike and deters me from my early morning beachwalk. As I look out my water-spotted window, I see two doves huddled in the low branches of an Acacia tree waiting out the storm. As soon as it stops raining, I know they will check the bird feeder on the windward side of my house for sunflower seeds and the grains they gobble up so quickly. I can also see a few Bushtits sheltered under the leafy branches of the same tree and I think of how often I’ve wondered where birds go when it rains. Now I have an answer for birds I see in my yard, but I still wonder about shorebirds. Where do sea gulls, pelicans, cormorants, grebes and all those little sandpipers go when winds howl and rain pelts down with fierce force? An Audubon Society guide once told me they go out to sea and ride the waves.
Sheets of rain continue to pound the ground and gusty winds drive across the garden pushing over deck chairs and the sun umbrella. The ocean looks steely-gray with angry, white capped waves roiling towards shore. Are there really flocks of shorebirds out there waiting for an end to the bad weather? During a lull in the storm’s intensity, three pelicans and a gray gull fly past my window, and again, I wonder, where have they come from and where are they going?...
Storm Birds II
...A hummingbird atop a Coyote Bush turns its head just enough to catch a sun ray on its throat and throw a red sequined light at me. Another hummingbird reflects only an iridescent green back. A small fluffy gray bird preens its feathers while perched atop a park trail sign. With a gentle breeze ruffling its head feathers, it takes on a jaunty, tousled look, like a rogue playboy set apart from the other birds spaced evenly on the wire fence top. Spider webs in the grass glisten with beads of moisture left from the rain. Their perfectly woven center funnels stand ready to capture the unwary insect. A raven’s hoarse caw ushers me along the path to the beach, but my shoes are already soaking and make squeaking sounds with each step I take on the wet ground. I think I have sopped up the moisture underfoot as well as the spirit of the day and I need go no further on my beachwalk.
The birds have come out of their rain-sheltered hiding places and I have left the shelter and comfort of my home to bask with them in the sunlight so welcome after a stormy morning. It is enough for today...
...I think about pioneer women who used fragments of cloth to make quilts. Each piece of material had a history. A bit of worn out dress, a child’s outgrown clothes, bright color swatches traded with a friend or neighbor, memories lovingly quilted together to form a warm, serviceable and meaningful cover, a blanket with history as well as purpose. The sewing of the quilt, itself, was a shared activity.
I think of the fragments I collect on my beachwalks as shards melding together to form my beach quilt. They are pieces of experiences broken and scattered, of pain and uncertainty, of adventures and joy and, most of all, they are reminders of a love that pervades life at its worst moments as well as at its best. As my collection of beach fragments grows and is stitched together with insights and relationships, I grow. But unlike a cloth quilt, my beach quilt is forever in the making, a continuous process that is ever rewarding and always hopeful. Today I go home with a new fragment in my pocket, and some new ideas to connect with the past while I piece together the present...
...While historical fact confirms the existence of people thousands of years ago living where I now live, finding and holding one of their tools helps me to feel this knowledge. As I grasp the sturdy quartzite scraper, I merge with the past, becoming an extension of human habitation along these shores. Someone, many lifetimes before me, sat upon this same bluff top and looked across the ocean as I do now. She, too, must have walked along the brush-covered edge, perhaps following the same ancient drainage channel that I follow to the beach. She carried the scraper as her knife, just as I carry my jackknife in my beach pack. I tighten my grip on the stone as I try to feel her strength and picture her strong fingers using the scraper to cut abalone meat from its shell. I see her kneeling as she fills the natural holes in the shell with beach tar. Placing the abalone in her new bowl, she follows the path back to her encampment to share her wealth. I smile as I think of how I, too, sometimes carry home an abalone shell. But mine is only an ornament and the abalone meat I eat comes from the market... .
...Today I am trying to figure out what it is that makes a gnarled piece of driftwood full of imperfections, so appealing to me. Is it the subtlety of grain or color or tortured shape that turns an old piece of wood into a thing of beauty? As my eyes search the piles of beach debris for the unusual, it dawns on me that it is the complexity of all these elements together shaping each individual piece, that captures my interest. Wind and weather directing its growth from a tiny seed to its development into a tree, its journey from the soil of its birth to its beach resting place, and finally, its destiny as firewood, ornament, garden decor, or trash to be hauled away.
As I continue my search for interesting wood formations, my mind wanders and I begin to compare the imperfections of wood to gnarled and aging people. They, like the driftwood, have been changed by experiences and time, but have survived with scars of remembrance. Slowly I realize it is the development of character that appeals to me and ultimately becomes a kind of beauty. It is character I’m looking for in the driftwood, character developed over a long journey, just as I look for character in people who have lived full and challenging lives, molding the clay of experience into living artifacts of lasting value...
...On my beachwalks, I expect change. I look forward to each day’s difference and appreciate its unique characteristics. But because I am creating my garden, I expect it to stay the way I design it. And so it continues to defy me with wayward growth I can’t control. It has taken me a long time to realize I must think of it in the same way I view the beach. The basic structure remains constant, but details are never the same and it is details, that make it all so interesting.
Through the years I see seasonal patterns and changes in both my garden and the beach. I’ve learned that both are a process more than a result. I now understand that if I could make my garden perfect once and for all and it stayed that way, I would very soon grow bored and tired of it. Just as if my beachwalks were the same every day, I would soon become disinterested. It is the process of growth and discovery which is stimulating and challenging...
...As I sit digging my heels into the loose granular material of the beach, dribbling it through my fingers, I feel at peace with myself and lulled into contentment. My thoughts today inspired by the sand beneath my feet, help me to know myself a little better. Sandcastle dreams provide an entry into aspects of my human spirit. I am reminded of so much I don’t understand and never can. But it doesn’t matter, like granular material sorting itself into piles, life gets sorted out whether I understand or not.
I would like to stay and play in this pleasant place, but I realize it is time to go home and begin the rest of my day. After all I was privileged to have the luxury of an early morning walk and some playtime in a really big sand box...
...Shark egg cases, commonly known as mermaid’s purses capture our attention, and we compare notes on two varieties. The spiral form belongs to a Hornshark and the rectangular one is from a skate. These small leather-like pockets wash up on the beach after tiny babies have hatched from eggs inside. The first time I found one buried in a clump of seaweed, I carried it home and spent hours searching my books before I was able to identify it.
I pick up a small triangular arrangement of calcareous plates from a sea urchin’s mouth and she reminds me that it, too, has an interesting common name. It is called Aristotle’s Lantern because of its small cage-like shape. Together we unsuccessfully search her natural history books trying to identify a black, tree-shaped branch, which reminds me of a sea fan, but neither of us knows its name. The more we talk, the more I renew my own curiosity and desire to know about these offerings left on the beach by ocean waves...
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