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CHASING DOWN THE MUSE:Gather quiet moments and take a deep breath

“Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.”

The silence stretches, and stretches "” a longing fulfilled. In this “silence” are many sounds "” the laugh of a gull on the water, the soft slap of the waves of the morning-calm sea, chirruping finches, the whir of hummingbird wings.

The splash as a cormorant dives below the smooth surface of water while a pelican glides by just inches away. Bright morning light is softened by scattered cloud cover. A panga boat angles away from the shelter of land. An armada of grebes floats just past the sand bar, an orange buoy out of place in their line.

Laundry waits. A walk, too. For just now, I absorb all that is right here, right now, and I “breathe "” just breathe.”

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These 10 days away from home "” billed as a working vacation, a writing retreat "” seem to have been anything but work in so many ways. Other than this writing, daily journaling, and a smattering of notes, writing has not been my mode at all. I pondered this earlier this morning as the sun broke through, casting its bright golden path across the placid blue sea, and I realized that I am working. I’m gathering. Work, after all.

Gathering is not just about the sea glass and flotsam and jetsam I find along the beach and the trail. It is about color and light and waves lapping and ripples from panga boats and the wind at my back. It is about golden dapples of light on the sea in the morning and fuchsia pink skies at sunset. It is about friendship and laughter and popcorn for dinner.

Gathering is about sitting and reading and watching, whether this last is the movement of a branch or a runner or a child at play or the diving grebe or the passing clouds or the comical woodpecker who manages to drink from the hummingbird feeder.

Gathering is about the synchronized wings of pelicans as they lift off the gravel bar as one. It is about the sound of those wings, too, a sound broken only by another "” the intake of my breath at the wonder of it all coming together in just this moment.

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Gathering is about the rough texture of a found shell, covered with other sea life. It is about the briny smell of the sea on a light breeze. Gathering is about the smooth fig-like sweet taste of that first sip of Damiana as it glides from the blue-edged glass over my lips or the rich creamy strawberry flavored yogurt or the mingling of crisp, smooth, and biting fried chiles and cheese.

The polished porcelain shine of piles of hundreds upon hundreds of fragments of conch shells is mesmerizing on a long, languid afternoon walk along a remote beach. The blue-green water is cool and inviting as the sun warms my skin.

There is the gift of imagination while passing tuxedo-clad pelicans gathering themselves together before the big gala. Mind images, camera images, lilting language, rustling breezes. All of these are the work, the gathering, to be used or perhaps simply remembered at some future time. This is about letting the senses and the heart open wider to take everything in.

And so, I go on.

I continue gathering gratitude and joy, forgetfulness and forgiveness, the words and the images, feeling the ache of knowing the distance between what is felt and what is conveyed, and accepting a mantle of grace for the moment.

I am content to stay here in this spot and simply breathe "” just breathe.


  • Cherril Doty is a writer, artist, and gatherer"”a joyful creator. She can be reached at
  • cherril@cherrildoty.com or by phone at (949) 251-3883.


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