Saturday, January 20, 2007

Waves and transitions

A wave's end
Deerfield Beach, Florida, December 2006

The sun was setting fast as I snapped the last few images of the day. I stood ankle-deep in the surf, watching the kids play by the water's edge, and thought about a question our six-year-old had asked earlier in the day. He wanted to know where waves came from. We did our best to explain, but our limited knowledge of oceonographic theory compelled us to keep it simple. We talked about how waves can begin, how they travel, and how they end when they reach shallow waters by the beach.

Now, as I stood in the middle of the churning surf, his little voice played in my head as I watched wave after wave roll up the smooth sand and then cease to exist. I couldn't adequately explain wave theory to our kids, but I sure could try to capture the last seconds before the whole process came to an end.

Beginnings. Endings. A little boy's question. As I stood between land and sea and watched day slowly turn into night, this seemed like a nice way to capture it all.

Your turn: How do you answer a child's unanswerable question?


Anonymous said...

Hi Carmi.

Michele sent me.

Feeling pensive, huh? Well, I certainly understand. Sweet Girl often asks questions we can't answer. Sometimes we spend a lot of time going over the scientific answer (how sleet differs from snow due to the air tempurature and water saturation) and other times a child friendly answer (thunder is just the angels bowling). The truely unanswerable ones, though, generally are about the mysteries of life and spirituality. Then we just admit that its a mystery.. and have a discussion about all the ways it could, should or might be.

Always interesting.

OK, Carmi. I have to tell you this - and you'll finally understand a bit of why I am the Blond Girl.

About four days ago I was looking at your blog and commenting to a friend how much I enjoy it. I was wondering at the same time (as I often have in the past) how it was that your blog lacked the European presence that I would expect from a Londoner. I wondered how it is that you take so many vacations and business trips in the USA. I rememebered listening to a podcast of yours and marveling that you had no real discernable english accent. And then I read your full location - as I have done many times. London, Onterio. I've read your location just about everytime I look at your sidebar. Only this time, after more than a year, the word ONTERIO actually sunk in... You're in CANADA! Hello! You're north of us! One the same freakin continent! I went straight to mapquest and figured out that you're about 500 miles away. I could actually drive to where you are.

Yes, I was blown away. Yes, I felt undeniably stupid (my IQ is actually 159 after all) and yes, I did in fact, feel... Blond.

Anonymous said...

If I really have NO clue, let's look it up. If it is a question that just can't be answered I explain that there are some things we do not understand.

Here from Michele's tonight and I LOVE the beach!

Anonymous said...

I lie. Then I try to find some approximation of the truth that will stand. Thankfully, the child who asks me questions is 4, so it's okay for me to say that the moon is made of green cheese, then change course and say that it's covered in some sort of rock.
Here from M.

Anonymous said...

"Because I said so!"

Ok, seriously, if it's a good question and I don't know the answer, I'll find out. With the access to information today, it's rare that they ask and even rarer that i can't find out.

Love the shot!

via Michele's this time,


Anonymous said...

I'm so jealous that you were there and I wasn't! I love the water!!!

Michele says hi :)

kenju said...

Back when my kids were small, I had to rely on the dictionary and encyclopedias. Nowadays, I'd google it - or go to Wikipedia - for a start to the answer.

Michele sent me.

kenju said...

Oh, and did I say that Michele sent me?

Mike said...

Nice picture Carmi. I remember when my son was little(he is 24 now). The hardest questions to answer were the ones that started with "why". There were times we had to go look for the answer.

Michele sent me.

Anonymous said...

Back from Michele's...

The color of the water in the setting sun has almost a Cobalt hue to it, don't you think?


OldLady Of The Hills said...

Michele sent me Carmi though we posted just about the same time..So though I didn't write your name in...Here I am, anyway!
LOVE LOVE LOVE this picture! It ia Masterful!!!! Really perfection...I can "feel" that surf rolling in and it feels great!
Beautiful, my dear...!

srp said...

Michele sent me this time.
OOOOOOOOHHHHHH! Now, I really, really, really like this one. It makes me almost able to feel the sand sift in and out between my toes as the foamy waves lap at the shore. Very, very nice.

How to answer a child's difficult question.... well, for wave theory you could toss a pebble in a calm pond and let him watch the waves move away. Or since the wind has some part in wave formation, a fan blowing water in a bird bath?

Boy, any of those other hard questions kids ask... some have no answer... I never think a parent should be afraid to say "I don't know".

Anonymous said...

I haven't had any really tough questions from my boy yet. But I think "Uh, I'm not sure. Ask your Dad and I'll tell you if I agree with him" is a good answer.

My Dad always said, "Look it up." Frustrated the heck out of me.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful pic as usual Carmi.

Answering the tough questions....
Well there's always the "Hmmmm (hand on chin) that's a good question son. Hey, how 'bout an ice cream cone?"

Anonymous said...

Back from Michele's.

I answered your kind question with a new post.

now my question... did you laugh when you read my onterio confession?

Mrs. Falkenberg said...

I understand the problem. Aidan's only four, and already we've had to answer questions about evolution vs creation, birth, and her favourite, death. "What day will you die on?" "What does dead feel like?" I guess we all just do our best, and admit it when we don't have the answers!

Unknown said...

I haven't stopped by in a while, and now when I do you have a hard question for me to answer. Boy!

I usually tell my kids that I don't know, but we could look it up on the Internet if they have a hard question for which I have no answer. Now that they are older, the questions get a lot harder, too.

Anonymous said...

I am with Sarch...go for the distraction of works everytime! LOL

I have to say that if I don't know the answer for mine I will always tell them that and then try to figure out ASAP. It is wonderful to have Google at my fingertips.

The photo is stunning. I can almost hear the way that must have sounded to be there. Way to go with another thought provoking image. THe colors are so soothing as well.

Gordon said...

Hmm that is always a tricky one, I suppose I'd just think of something that sounds about right and tell them that, then go look it up as quick as possible incase I wasn't. It's worked so far mind you nephew is getting old enough to look stuff for himself so that's what tends to happen now :).
Thanks for the Blog Fodder Comment.
Michelle didn't send me, I came by myself *laughs*

Anonymous said...

Hi Carmi. Thanks for visiting my blog. My 3-yr old son is getting curious about almost everything and he always ask me things about this and that. My husband and I try to answer him the best we can. It's amazing how children can come up with the funniest, weirdest and unexplainable questions.

Anyway, regarding your question, I found my 3-column template on Hoctro's blog at Just check it out.

Anonymous said...

Love this photo Carmi. It really does remind me of walking along the beach in Spain hust a few weeks ago :-)

I love the frothy look of the water which you have portrayed wonderfully.

My parents used to answer such questions with 'ask you mother / father' which was frustrating so I'm glad you attempted to explain. I think a wave starts where the surfers wait, who ride them in to end on the beach where the paddlers dip.

Anonymous said...

Good question, Carmi.
I answer it much in the way you did.....the best I can.

Anonymous said...

with honesty.

Anonymous said...

Waves are a gift from God......there to bring us gifts from his bountiful ocean.

Snaggle Tooth said...

You need to invent a silly fairy-tale!
Like how thunder n lightening is the Angels bowling in heaven!
Maybe they dropped the bowling balls in the water, and it splashed n made all these waves... like the ripples when you toss in a stone-

Eventually they'll challenge your answer, but then they are old enough to google it!