Friday, April 1, 2011

First Day of A-Z in April Challenge!

For the start of the A-Z April Challenge, and the letter A, I'm writing about one of my favorite places in the world, the town of Aquinnah on the island of Martha's Vineyard.

Aquinnah is at the westernmost point of the island, and is known for its beautiful beach and spectacular cliffs. The name is a Wampanoag word that means "land beneath the cliffs," and the area is a sacred spot to the Wampanoag tribe. When you're there, it's easy to see why.

I visited the Vineyard last summer, as I have for so many summers of my life, and spent a good deal of my time on the beach beneath the cliffs. It's always one of my favorite places to visit, as there is nothing I love more than sitting on the beach and listening to the roar of the waves. On the last day we visited, the sand was especially cool and welcoming on our bare feet, and the ocean was such a bright shade of blue that it was hard to tell where the ocean ended and the sky began.



The highlight of this trip, as with any other trip to Aquinnah, was the cliffs, with their colorful mix of red, brown, and white clay.




I love walking the length of the beach to the edge of the cliffs, and the tip of the Island. It is undeniably beautiful, but it is also quite raw and somewhat intimidating, as you almost feel as if you are at the edge of the world, with nothing in front of you but the Atlantic Ocean stretching out for countless miles. Sometimes I've seen a boat way out on the horizon and I find myself wondering, who is out there? In my head I try to imagine who they are, and I've often thought one of these far-off boats could provide great inspiration for a story.

I think one of the reasons I have always had an interest in and affection for Aquinnah is that my great-great grandfather was the lighthouse keeper for the town in the 1850s. His name was Samuel, but everyone called him Squire because of his ability to read and write, skills that were uncommon in those days. Squire lived at the lighthouse with his family, and whenever I am there I can't help but wonder what it must have been like for them at the top of those cliffs in the middle of a fierce storm, with the wild ocean raging below.

Photo courtesy of wikimedia commons

The house is no longer there, but the red brick lighthouse remains, and it is still a working lighthouse. Even now, the cliffs and the beach are pitch black at night, and only the rotating beacon of the lighthouse penetrates the darkness. I took a tour of the lighthouse back in the 1990s, and it was a thrill to climb to the top and get a 360 degree view of the sea and surrounding area.

Photo courtesy of wikimedia commons

I'm not sure when I'll go to the Vineyard again, but I know that I will at some point, just as I always have. And I know when I do, Aquinnah and the ocean will be there to welcome me back.



Happy April everyone, and to all who are working on the A-Z Challenge, I wish you luck and I look forward to reading your posts!

(Unless otherwise noted, photos courtesy of my niece, Melanie.)

22 comments:

  1. Beautiful pictures and a peaceful p,ace to spend time.

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  2. oooo wow! Another wonderful picture for my "happy place", I really love your post, and the pictures are just so beautiful!! Thank you for visiting!

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  3. Now tht's a proper ocean beach! Great photos.

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  4. Wow it looks great there, nice way to begin the April challenge.

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  5. Gorgeous photos. It's making me miss the beach. Oh, and Squire is such an awesome nickname to have!

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  6. I love the whole idea of an A - Z Challenge. I'm already committed to a blog challenge in April, but I must add this to my 'creative and interesting things to do list'.

    A lovely post with some very lovely photographs!!

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  7. I think we all have those places we long to return to. We're drawn to them like magnets. You captured that feeling perfectly with this post-well done.

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  8. Wow, it's a stunning place. Spent every summer on Cape Cod when a kid. Loved going there.

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  9. Hey Julie ~~ the pics are beautiful !!
    I also noticed that you love the quote by Lao Tzu : The journey of .....
    Also one of my favourite quotes and the inspiration for my blog slogan & logo !

    ~MICHELLE~
    http://writer-in-transit.co.za/category/other/rambles-rants-and-raves/

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  10. Awesome pictures a great start to the challenge.

    Yvonne.

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  11. Absolutely beautiful! I love Martha's Vineyard, but was not familiar with this place. However, you have inspired to write about Cuttyhunk Island when I get to C in the challenge!

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  12. I'm a lifelong Massachusetts resident, yet I was unaware of this little town on the Vineyard. What a beautiful place, thanks for posting about it! :)

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  13. Gorgeous photos! Thanks for sharing such a beautiful place and memory with us :)

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  14. Fascinating to read about your relative! Very cool, and lovely pictures. I'm a Mass girl myself. :)

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  15. Awesome pictures and post! It reminds me of visits to a beloved aunt and uncle in Eastham on Cape Cod. I'm looking forward to your post tomorrow!

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  16. Wow, it looks amazing... and so peaceful!

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  17. A memorable trip I would not have taken otherwisee. Thanks.

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  18. Hi all!

    I'm so glad you liked this post, I loved writing about Aquinnah, and the post was a great little trip down memory lane for me. Thank you very much for all your comments!

    For those participating in the Challenge, it's so great to get to know you and I can't wait to read your entries as we go through the month.

    I'm so glad you liked the photos as well, I will pass that along to my niece who was kind enough to share them with me. My own photos didn't turn out nearly as well, as so often seems to be the case! ;)

    Thank you all again!

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  19. Oh, wow. What a beautiful place, and a beautiful name as well! :-)

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  20. @KC, thanks! It really is a wonderful place, and I agree, I love the name as well.

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  21. Hi Julie,
    My name is Jane and I'm with Dwellable.
    I was looking for blogs about Aquinnah to share on our site and I came across your post...If you're open to it, shoot me an email at jane(at)dwellable(dot)com.
    Hope to hear from you soon!
    Jane

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Thank you for your comments!