I just returned from a lovely two weeks abroad. I traveled one week with my oldest daughter, first exploring the busy streets and sites of Barcelona, and then the quiet southwest German village where she will be spend the rest of this month with a local family.
The second week I spent with friends, one who lives near Oxford in the U.K., and another who flew in to join us. We toured the famous college town, “fan-girled” it up at Downton Abbey filming locations, lifted our pinkies over cream and tea, and spent two nights on the Dorset Coast, in the town of Swanage.
It was a jam-packed trip and one I intend to write more about on my blog, Traveling the Pale Blue, in the coming weeks as I return to juggling work and family and school and real life. (Message between the lines: the writing might not happen, but there’s always hope.)
For now, I have a poem. It’s been a while since I’ve shared one here. With thanks to my friend, Rosie (above), for showing me the place that makes her the happiest.
Swanage, 7 a.m.
by Julie Deutscher
The plaque on the gate outside the house
three doors down in this ancient town, read
“At this site on Sept. 5, 1782
nothing happened.” I walked on
descending the residential hillside street
toward the ascending sun, illuming the town
and the sea. Parading past the tourist shops
stuffed with trinkets, proof-for-sale that we
had been here. To the fish and chips shack
where we’d eaten last night. A parked truck
and a man, carrying in the fresh catch for today’s diners.
On the opposite side, a raised boardwalk curbed the sea.
I leaned against the rail, watched the beach birds
bully each other over the breakfast choices, tearing at tossed
food wrappers, flinging and fleeing too rowdily
for this early hour. I took no notice
of the new shells washed ashore overnight, knowing
across our dresser-top my friend had already scattered
a handful of yesterday’s. In this familiar foreign place
I felt on my right cheek the focused warmth of a new day.
Inhaled the ripe fragrance of humanity meeting the wild sea.
Heard the distant call for the yellow lab who slathered my sleeve
with a trail of slobber. I climbed out of town along the Jurassic cliffside
across the green field and into the small woods
where the fawn lives. I crossed through another gate
exchanging good mornings with a bright-eyed old man.
He was missing an arm, but he needed only one
to hold his dog’s leash. I gathered
my two lovely friends from the B&B, we loaded the car and drove on
in search of something.