She sat quietly, breathing in and breathing out, breathing in the sharp-sweet-bitter-slightly-sulfurous tang of seaweed and of salt. She sat inhaling the scent of sea and seaweed and sea creatures and all things sea. She sat for so long, taking in great gulps of the smell-sight-sound-feel-taste of bright day at beach, that she felt, deep in her spine, the exact instant when the last particle of tension left her body. She felt a tiny click deep in her spine and suddenly she was free.
Her mind spun free too, the scent of the sea filling her nostrils, the taste of salt on her lips, the touch of warm sun and slightly humid air on her bare skin, the roar of waves and wind filling her ears. Her mind spun free with the diamonds spinning on the water, blinding her, so bright it was like staring straight into the sun itself. Spun free with the cooling wind on her skin, no mere breeze today but the kind of wind that drives horses crazy, makes them want to jump and dance. The kind of wind you can actually hear. Not just a sound of something it blows through, like wind chimes or trees or flags or recalcitrant beach umbrellas, but a roar of its own, like the restless ocean herself.
She sat listening, feeling, tasting, absorbing it all into every cell of her parched body, thirsty for what the ocean had for her today.
Yet of all her senses, it was the smell that carried the memory, the seaweed tang that transported her from this glorious sunny day with the roaring wind and waves to the first time, the very first time she saw mother ocean.
It was dark. They’d been driving a long time. She could smell the water long before she saw it. She could smell it for miles and miles. She could smell it, but she couldn’t see it, and it was driving her crazy. It was taking every milligram of self control she had to keep herself from bouncing up and down on the seat like a four-year-old, bouncing and whining, are we there yet, are we there yet, why aren’t we there yet. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d been so very excited. It was as if she knew somehow exactly how magical it would be.
They’d been driving all day and long into the night to get there. Now it was midnight. A full moon stood high in the sky, but it was otherwise utterly dark, far, far from any lights on the land. It was low tide. It was quiet. So quiet. So quiet that you could barely hear the small waves lapping gently beyond these rocks that enclosed the tide pools. The only other sounds were the low murmurs of her companion introducing her to all the little creatures in this tide pool: periwinkle, mussel, clam, barnacle, starfish, limpets, urchins, crabs. She peered into the tide pool in utter amazement at all the life and activity she could see in the bright moonlight, kelp waving, barnacles opening and closing, all the different shellfish feeding.
Her companion reached in and picked up a tiny purple sea urchin, and told her to hold her hand out flat, before placing it gently on her outstretched palm. She nearly dropped the creature in surprise when she felt its minuscule feet tickling their way across her palm. She watched in fascination for another moment or two as the urchin moved slowly but certainly, then carefully lowered her hand into the water so it could swim off.
They made their way over to the next pool, where she crouched carefully on the slick rocks, gently nudging a periwinkle with her forefinger, watching in delight as it retreated hastily into its tiny shell only to emerge again a moment or two later to go back to feeding on the kelp that clung to the rocks. Then she saw a periwinkle moving sideways, and looked more closely to see that it wasn’t a periwinkle at all—it was a periwinkle shell, but from the shell ventured a tiny hermit crab, snapping its tiny claws fiercely as it scooted across the rocks foraging for algae.
Over the next set of rocks and there was the open ocean, vast, endless, the light of the full moon shimmering and glimmering along all that endless water all the way out to the horizon, diamonds dancing in the night, diamonds in the water and in the sky, stars scarcely visible with the moon so bright, but there, right at the horizon, she could just make out the faint but distinctive ‘W’ of Cassiopeia in the north. Cassiopeia dancing with the diamonds in the water, on this perfect moonlit night in June, so very many years ago.
Her heart began to melt with the memory of that magical, magical night, that very-very-first night of many nights and days with mother ocean. Her heart opened and melted with the sensation of connection. Here she was today, so very far away from that night in both time and space—different beach, different hemisphere—and yet the water was the same, always. The same water just kept flowing and dancing, around and around and around the planet, all connected, all the different beaches connected, all the water in the world connected, always the same water girdling the earth, always. Always the same water evaporating from the vast vast oceans to form clouds that released it again as rain, ending up eventually in the vast vast oceans again.
Always the same water, just like it was always the same air. The air in her lungs as she sat breathing in and breathing out, where did that air come from? It came from the beginning of time, from being trapped in the earth’s atmosphere and circulating around the earth constantly since the beginning. Nothing escapes. Air and water circling around and around and around, everything connected by water and air, nothing and nobody left out.
She began to hum to herself the chant from the old Circles:
We all come from the Goddess And to her we shall return Like a drop of rain Flowing to the ocean
And she sat, and she breathed in and breathed out again, watching the diamonds dancing on the water.
Photos: Vik Beach, Iceland (top) Copyright © 2018 Tunde Nemeth; Youtube video Atlantic Dunes Beach, Delray, Florida, Copyright © 2018 Tunde Nemeth