Carmel Magazine

CM Summer 2014_Final

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he coast has always been a point of depar ture. But for me, it's a point of return. My childhood memories are filled with the feel of the cool salty air licking sunburned shoulders and of golden days spent barefoot on a glistening beach in search of the perfect seashell. I was a hopeless coveter, foraging for sea glass, sponges, polished peb- bles and whatever else the sea gave up. On occasion, a tiny sea urchin could be found, baby abalone shells glistening in a tide pool, or on a real- ly good day, a complete and unbroken sand dollar. It was a beachcomber's endless treasure hunt for precious gems. And while my sisters and I loved diving into salty waves, or the way our feet would sink in the sand when the surf pulled back, or building our lop- sided sandcastles adorned with sea- weed and starfish, we would always migrate back to our tin buckets of found beach stuff. The seaside vacations we had when we were young defined forever our love for the sea. Today, that infinite world still engages all the senses. In order to bring that feeling to the home and garden, con- sider decorating with vintage coastal pieces. The look is very minimalist, with colors of shell and sand and oyster grays, which reinforces the simple appeal of coastal architecture. There are wonderful stone seahorse fountain spitters and the ever- whimsical mermaid. The magic of the ocean has brought forth these leg- ends of the sea and they are highly desired by collectors. And, if you are truly fortunate, an obscure wooden sign with traces of its original painted words can be salvaged from an old wharf storefront. We never know what we will pirate out from the depths of seaside towns along the coast. Fragments of concrete walls embedded with abalone shells built by the Portuguese fisherman in Monterey in the '20s are starting to emerge at estate sales. Abalone has a deep history in the local area. The Ohlone, tribes of Native American people of the Central Coast, were attracted to the abundance of these mollusks within the coastal tide pools. It was part of their indigenous diet as well as an early form of currency used to trade for goods. At Point Lobos State Natural Reserve in Carmel, an old trail leads down toward the water at Whaler's Cove. Along the way, crushed shells in the sea bank offer a glimpse of the abalone feasts some 3,000 years ago. For a woman of the sea, it is said that a day spent near the sound of the waves brings back the elation of a special moment. A connection to those moments can be forged by collecting faded letters, postcards, books, and anything written that hints about the sea, speaks of its sorcery, its draw and allure. Anything from John Steinbeck, particularly reflecting his "Cannery Row" and "Tortilla Flat" novels, is highly sought after, while old postcards depict- ing early Monterey and the canneries are a rare find. Authentic maritime anchors, heavy chains and nautical boat brackets can still be found at antique malls and shops at fairly reasonable prices. It's an indus- trial look that is sweeping the designer showrooms from coast to coast, driving the prices up. Collectors and designers can create a coastal vignette merely by plac- ing an old steel anchor on a bleached table surrounded by glass floats. The salt air can be harsh on anything woven. Fabric is less fortunate than coastal wood and stone as time can take a toll on its fibers. But I adore funky beach umbrellas and fishermen's nets and nautical uniforms of old. Their frayed beauty blends with the pale shades of the seashore, adding texture to the maritime environment. And there's something warm and comfortable about sun-bleached wooden garden chaises and folding chairs and boat oars. It's somewhat shabby which makes it all seem so beachy. And give it up for the ever- nautical surfboard. If you never ever set foot in the waves, just owning one gives you a feeling of empowerment. 106 C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • S U M M E R / F A L L 2 0 1 4 The seaside mind, freed of noise and complication, finds beauty in the faded, weathered and rusted fragments of these salty remnants of the past. COLLECTING B Y M A R J O R I E S N O W Coastal Antiques T

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