Sunday, July 18, 2010
Down by the shore this evening, I pondered the many uses of beaches. There are those who see them as a great place for tanning, others who like to swim or play in the surf. Some see them as a party venue, while others as a place to grab some time alone and blow away the cobwebs of the mind.
I fall more into the latter group - I like lonely stretches of sand, free from artificial sounds of canned music or noisy motors. I like to listen to the rhythm of the waves and the call of the gulls, and to watch the sunlight play on water and the little crabs play on sand.
Tonight, the contrast between my oceanside pleasures and someone else's was brought home very directly. As I wandered down the berm to the wharf, I passed three young men with a toddler in a stroller. The men were competing to see who could come closest to hitting a floating log with a rock. As I passed them, a seagull swooped by just a yard or two from us - with a lovely purple starfish in its beak! Immediately, I smiled with delight as I grabbed for my camera - what a gift to see such a symbol of biodiversity so close.
But did the young men even notice? No, not for a moment. The bird dropped to the ground just feet away, tossing the starfish to afford a better grip, swooped around us again as it tried to decide whether to eat its catch on the shore or take it further away from the two-leggeds so nearby.
I wanted to grab the toddler, who looked about two, and show him the bird and the starfish and talk to him about nature.....what a missed opportunity for the little child, though perhaps he learned other lessons from watching grown men having fun together.
When I was on the mainland last week, I found myself people-watching too. Wanting to escape hospital smells and traffic noise and construction dust, I took a walk at Blackie's Spit in Crescent Beach. It was a lovely evening, and there were just a handful of people enjoying the shoreline - each in different ways.
A woman reads:
A couple necks (and their friend, on the bench below them, is smoking whatever it is young people smoke from glass bowls with long pipe-like necks, though that is not visible in the photo):
A young woman text messages while her friend enjoys the view:
And some kayakers glide across the water:
To each his or her own - but for me the ocean shore will always be a place I go to unwind, to breathe deeply of the salty air, to watch nature, and to enjoy the sunrises and sunsets.