I’m really getting around these days.
Last week’s thoughts were of a sun-hazed amble in languid park, and now I am inspired by a mingle with the everlasting, otherwise known as a walk on our beloved North Beach.
It’s been too long since Bella and I have had a proper meandering potter and dabble on that familiar stretch of weather-sculpted strand and undulating sea … fathomless depths and miles of roaring, rumbling, sighing, shifting, swishing sea.
Never-ending, never changing, never the same.
Those dark, roiling acres are a living palette, endlessly mixing and reworking tone and shade, just now blending glistening olive greens with coldest navy blues, parsed by the brilliant white foam that turns them into discernible, individual waves as they make for the shore, before dissipating, exhausted, across the finish line.
The spume is left spluttering and spent as the waters are sucked back into the endless cycle of tide and toil.
No one here but me Bella, terrier queen of these saltwater shores.
I love the way she shifts her ears and tilts her head to catch a new sound.
I watch the sea and ponder, while she prefers to maul a seashell and she yelps at me to throw it for her to fetch.
She catches up on the shell, braking instantly on her tiny sea-and-sand-plastered paws behind it, and flails at it now in a blur of frenzied clawing.
As my toes are coldly caressed by the last drag of wave washing over them, I tilt my head one way, then another, and another again, and each variant alters the symphony of the sea slightly yet completely.
It’s funny how where you look also changes the soundscape; you hear the individual song of the wave you single out for inspection, just like when you focus on one player in a band or orchestra you can hear their individual notes even as they contribute to the overall piece.
I am trying hopelessly yet happily to describe colour, sight and sound, but really I am word painting a feeling.
That’s what the beach is like for me when I spend any time there. A feeling.
I succumb to the strange catastrophe of being icily aware of my mortality and yet forever part of this universe, even after my earthly shell will have been discarded.
I am both the sea and the tiniest gleaming rivulet sparking at Bella’s paw now as she too dabbles with infinity. Infinity in the elemental mix of water, sand, wind and sun. And the eerie, piercing ka, ka, ka of the seagulls all around us as they soar and swoop.
If she only knew. Or cared to consider.
Right now Bella just wants me to grab a shell and fling it away for her to chase down.
If I don’t throw it quickly enough, she is off herself, making her own sport as she charges from shell to shell, immediately discarding one and engaging with another, scooping one from under a piece of seaweed with a delicate swish of her sand-tousled paw before the sea can claim it, and burying it and excavating it for a frenzied moment, before she tires of it and moves on.
She darts between the dregs of waves dying across the glazed seashore.
There is a sense of freedom and abandon I get looking out to sea that I do not get anywhere else.
Mountains and valleys are all very magnificent and majestic … of course they are … but they feel like someone else’s magic, like a scene that has already been laid down.
I feel finite in those marvellous places. Smaller than merely small.
But staring out over the shimmering horizon now and beyond to where the sky begins, I feel I am creating my own majesty, my own magic, and my own marvellous …
I often set out on these walks with earthly thoughts and worries. Worries I really mean to tackle and work through. Thoughts of teenage tantrums, troubles, and temptations. Anything that might be getting me down. Or up. Or merit proper consideration
But try as I might, these thoughts seem to dissipate and collapse on the shores of a less earthly contemplation.
We are here, we are now … we will be gone, we will return.
And just to finally consider that here I am thinking these thoughts as if they were somehow new, when Shakepeare was penning his timeless Sonnet 60 all those centuries ago:
Like as the waves make towards the pebbl’d shore,
So do our minutes hasten to their end;
Each changing place with that which goes before,
In sequent toil all forwards do contend.
Nativity, once in the main of light,
Crawls to maturity, wherewith being crown’d,
Crooked eclipses ’gainst his glory fight,
And Time that gave doth now his gift confound.
Time doth transfix the flourish set on youth
And delves the parallels in beauty’s brow,
Feeds on the rarities of nature’s truth,
And nothing stands but for his scythe to mow:
And yet to times in hope my verse shall stand,
Praising thy worth, despite his cruel hand.
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