Blue. Blue on blue.
Sea and sky. Sand and wind and sun. Fog.
This is a reverie.
The steps I take forward are filled with purpose. The steps I take backward are tentative, a different stride, finding the sand with my toes and only resting on my heel for a moment before the next backward step. I make a kind of infinity symbol with my footprints.
I go to the seashore to be in a different rhythm, to order my days around my creative swells and dips, to remember myself as a young woman walking along this same shoreline, searching and despairing and learning who I was.
I go to walk with myself. To get clear in my mind, the kind of spaciousness that can come to me with an extended stretch of silence. To let memory come in. To lay down some ocean time in my skin. To work, walk, write. To let wonder in.
I grew up landlocked in central Ohio. How do we come to yearn for the sea when we have never seen it? It is a primal longing, for the ocean was our first mother, and we remember it as we would our oldest ancestor, without words, in the blood.
It has been months and years since I have gone away for a personal writing retreat, since before the pandemic. I choose the last week of August. It is a good time. All the dust has settled on the myriad other projects around here and everyone in the family seems pretty steady for the moment. So Mama can take off.
As a friend said when I shared the news of my sojourn, “Holy chillin’! just keep chillin’.”
After a morning’s work, I walk by the sea at midday to clear my mind. It isn’t always this blue and clear. Every morning the fog is a cold blanket. By noon it might burn off. One morning I have a smaller, foggy beach all to myself for my daily devotion of qigong. Reaching, moving, swaying, praying.
Without fail I go down to the seaside each day at the magic hour. In the golden hour, other colors come in.
A perfect gradation of sunset color in the sky at sundown reminds me of the times I have spent in my studio trying with my watercolors to achieve this effect. Painting page after page, dipping my brush in colored water, never quite getting this delicate shading. I remember my books, Morning Prayer / Evening Prayer. I have not thought of them in a long while. Sometimes I forget all the things I have made, in my journey onward to make the next thing. I like to visit my site and see it, when I need to.
The lighthouse takes on a special gleam when the golden light slants in from the side, the fog hurrying to fill the sky.
A few minutes before the sun goes down, the sky is still flinging enough light around to make these waves purest green.
I make a single attempt to add my art to the sand, my homage to the shine and color, and soon my marks are washed away by the waves.
The water glides away, leaving treasures on the sand: sometimes a shell on this well-trodden beach, some sea glass even more rarely. More usually seaweed that traces the tideline, the sea’s signature.
On the last night, I get my feet wet. It is the coldest night yet. I baptize my feet, ground myself in mother ocean, with sand shifting beneath my feet. There is no other way to ground, in seawater.
Not as spontaneous as I once was, I bring extra shoes so I can safely walk back to my car and get myself home. I wait for the sun to drop like the proverbial shiny penny, savoring the sand between my toes and the communion with the terrible immensity made small for me to dip my toes in.
Fog is rolling in fast now, catching the last rays of the sun on its belly.
At the end of the day, the sea catches the last light and then goes dark. And keeps on loving the shore, even in deepest night.
The water appears to rest a for moment on the sand but it is already receding, gathering itself. In these last moments of the sun, the water shines. This might be my favorite part of the wave’s visit, when the water spreads itself out on the sand, covering it, then slides away for the next wave. The moments of expansiveness, after the crash, before the next one.
The shoreline is the endlessly shifting border, the between, the place where the world opens to both/and. The ceaseless waves shatter in their own reflection, then gather themselves for the next pouring of themselves out and gathering in again.
At the close of a day’s work, this is where I love to be, in the twilight, neither day nor night, resting my mind, letting it bring me what treasures it will, or none at all, open and waiting for the touch of the numinous, the luminous, the enchantment of light on water on sand.