Ode to Willard Beach

February 28, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

Today I am excited to be adding an Ode to Willard Beach gallery to the site.  Since moving to South Portland almost six years ago, my entire family has become enamored with Willard Beach.  This stretch of sandy/rocky coastline offers a salt breeze, a bracing swim, a place for building sand castles, climbing on rocks and contemplating the rugged beauty of the Maine coast, all within a mile of our home.  How lucky we are that it's also a place where our canine companions can romp and play as well!  The word "lucky"  was purposefully chosen and aptly describes the sense of gratefulness and personal responsibility I feel for this wonderful, precious gift our dogs get to enjoy.  

I have been photographing dogs and people at play on Willard Beach (usually with my own dogs in tow) for several years now, and I never tire of this activity.  Looking back over my photographs, which now number in the thousands, several themes speak to me.  Uninhibited joy is a BIG theme illustrated in my work.  Sand flying, water spraying...and dogs leaping into the surf to retrieve balls or sticks....or simply to feel the deliciousness of cold ocean water on a hot day.  These dogs express JOY so well!  Deep relaxation is another lovely theme revealed in my photos.  Look into the eyes of folks strolling at the water's edge and you can almost feel the bliss emanating from them.  The beach is a magical, healing place for many of us...a place for deep breathing, contemplation, meditation.  Community is yet another theme in the photos.  People and dogs together...young and old, spry and feeble...enjoying nature and maybe even each other.  There are people off shore as well...in the sailboats, kayaks, cruise ships and working boats that pass by Willard Beach in the course of a day, adding further to the sense of community.

The history of Willard Beach, and specifically the sharing of it amongst people and dogs, is not without a good amount of tarnish and ugliness.  Occasionally while visiting there, you may rub up against this sometimes unhappy marriage between those who want the beach to remain open to dogs and those who prefer them to go elsewhere to romp.  The bottom line, at least for my dog-owning self, is that rules and the following of them can protect the status quo...and the status quo is that well-mannered dogs are allowed on the beach during certain hours and times of the year.  Going back to my use of the word "lucky" in describing how I feel about the privilege and pleasure of being allowed to romp with my dogs off-leash in the ocean so close to my home, I absolutely DO feel fortunate and blessed.  Each and every time I visit Willard Beach, I behave responsibly and am sure to do more than my part to be a good steward of the beach.  Picking up after my dogs is my duty and responsibility.  Leashing them if they are not behaving appropriately or obeying recall is an absolute MUST.  Beyond that, I deeply enjoy meeting and greeting my neighbors and friends, dog-owning and dogless alike.  We laugh at the dogs' antics, catch up a bit, and often connect with a human touch...a pat on the arm or a simple hug.  It's such a beautiful thing, this sharing of Willard Beach.  I hope you enjoy it in my Ode to Willard Beach gallery, and that it speaks to you as it has to me....of joy and peace and nature and serenity, of community and laughter and the sheer LUCK of living where we do.  Namaste.


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