Monday, August 11, 2008

My Secret Beach


I have a secret beach.

It's not mine alone, but near enough. On an August Sunday it's just me and a few other hardy souls who venture out this far. Tirana's gone. No Durres. No traffic. Just me, the incandescent sun, and the beach. It's been strewn with the obligatory plastic bottles, some trash, and a set of quickly dissolving tire tracks testifying to someone's futile effort to drive out on the sand. The breeze is lazily erasing the tracks and pushing the refuse off into the far corner.

Here, hemmed in between shoulders of stone, I lie upon my secret beach. The sun, past its zenith, warms but does not burn. Beneath me the sand holds a reminder of midday's furnace, baking my back and melting sore, old muscles. I let go of the tension from the jolting ride in and surrender to the embrace of radiant silica. Each breath brings a slight readjustment as the sand sifts in to fill the gaps, forming an exact match to my body's form. A glove, a grave, an acceptance.

Above me the blue is marked with a few stray wisps of cloud. Cirrus? Stratus? Whatever, beach clouds. I stare into blue emptyness, anchored to Earth by the grip of the beach, and marvel at the range of colors. At first the sky looks just "blue", but after a while I notice the different shades. Deepest cobalt directly overhead. Milky blue around the fringes of the clouds. Pale, watery blue at the horizon. The moon, anxious to take the stage from the dominant sun, appears faintly as a blue-grey disc patched with dark spots. "Take your time,' I think. "You've got all night."

Across this azure expanse, a silver glint traverses, leaving a thin contrail behind. Even the vastness of the sky bears the imprint of our activities. So precise, so linear, so full of purpose. Yet, before the jet exits my field of view, the ruler-straight contrail begins to fray. Like the tire tracks on the beach, this latest mark of men begins to disappear and melt back into nature. That's how it is. The tracks, the contrail, the trash, you, me, everyone, everything. We come, we leave our mark, and we go away. A second, an hour, a year, a lifetime. Nature erases us, consumes us, re-uses us.

And that's OK. I feel best when I'm closest to nature. Closest to my eventual destination. Stay close and she reveals her secret wonders. The zephyr whispering across the water, over the sand, carrying the smell of brine. When the wind calms, the pungent tang of pine drifts over me. The stand of trees has worked its way onto the crest of the dune over the centuries and takes advantage of the lull to stake further claim if only for a brief moment. The breeze returns and carries with it the hiss of breaking waves.

I roll over and look out to sea to watch the waves break. They're not huge waves. Not North Shore monsters, curling over on themselves in a savage display of physics. But to me, raised on two-inch wind-driven wavelets lapping at the lakeside mud, these waves are fascinating. Random. Individual. Yet regular. There's a pattern that emerges from the chaos briefly to create a train of impressive little breakers before dissolving away into general waviness again.

The trick is to look far away. North. Up the beach. At the limit of my vision I can see a wave start breaking on the sand. This same crest continues south in an irregular yet unstoppable advance. As it gets closer I can hear it unzipping its way down the shore. Louder now, almost here, and then with a slap more than a crash it passes. It continues south, its sound fading. "Doppler effect?" I wonder.

Near me the water that the wave pushed up the sand is sliding back into the sea to await its next charge up the slope. I realize that the wave I watched travel over a mile down the beach was not made of water. The heaving water was just the track of the passing pulse of energy, of activity. Like the contrail. Like the tracks in the sand. It's all temporary, all impermanent.

From my warm cocoon in the beach's embrace I watch this timeless display of transient energy passing in and out of my existence and it's all good.


1 comment:

kimi in mo said...

beautiful! made me feel like I was right there in your private beach! Promise I wont tell anyone about it! :)
Just stopping by to read up on things I have missed.
Have a great week.