“There are heroes in the seaweed
There are children in the morning
They are leaning out for love
And they will lean that way forever”
—From Suzanne by Galway Kinnell
Mist falls, and I lost someone today.
Barely raining, the air is a sodden blanket. The ocean—a short walk away—is weighted with fog, horizon lost. No gull call; no lap of wave. Leaden stillness.
Some days: rinse and repeat.
“The Edge of the sea is a strange and beautiful place. All through the long history of Earth it has been an area of unrest where waves have broken heavily against the land, where the tides have pressed forward over the continents, receded, then returned.”
Nearly 70 years ago, Rachel Carson wrote these words—her opening lines to The Edge of the Sea—she perhaps not a mile from where I write now.
“An area of unrest”—sublimely beautiful.
She goes on:
“Only the most hardy and adaptable can survive in a region so mutable, yet the area between the tide lines is crowded with plants and animals. In this difficult world of the shore, life displays its enormous toughness and vitality by occupying almost every conceivable niche.”
Carson in her book offers example after example of that hearty toughness; life’s startling adaptability. The barnacle and its “low conical shape” that “deflects the force of the waves and sends the water rolling off harmlessly.” Sand dwelling worms that “withdraw into the deep wet layers” as water ebbs, then on a rising tide “come to the surface, or thrust up their long breathing tubes or siphons, or begin to pump water through their burrows”—all survival. The snail, “rolled around by the surf,” unharmed.
At Hendricks Head Beach, safely socially distanced, solitary figures speckle the shore, each drawn for her or his reason to the edge of the sea. We are quiet.
COVID-19, like mist all around. (Carson died in 1964; each of our days will come.)
“On all these shores there are echoes of past and future: of the flow of time, obliterating yet containing all that has gone before; of the sea’s eternal rhythms—the tides, the beat of surf, the pressing rivers of the currents—shaping, changing, dominating; of the stream of life, flowing as inexorably as any ocean current, from past to unknown future.”
The world too much, I sit at sea’s edge, rockweed draping tidal abundance in its infinitude of abiding grit.
Serenity rises like breaking day.
(This is for Sean.)
Peter Bruun is an artist and writer who moved from Baltimore to live year-round in the Boothbay Region in summer 2019.