Monday, January 12, 2009

Midnight Beach Walks

In addition to having become addicted to Cliff Mass' weather blog during the big snow of Aught-Eight, we constantly check out what the tides at Shangri-Lar will be. And, wouldn't you know it, there was a minus 3.1 tide last night about 11:30. Armed (rather, footed) with our new pseudo-Wellies, warm jackets and one flashlight (more about this later), Neil and I headed out.

The beach that we know so well during the day turns into a trickster at night. Both Neil and I were glad he hadn't taken the Christmas lights down of the back deck -- we might still be wandering around, looking for our way home.

We were all alone in the delicious dark and quiet. Not that we don't see these things during the day, but horse clam necks and sea grass look different at night. Our pace slowed so we wouldn't accidentally step on any sea creature, allowing me to see a tiny sea star about the size of a fifty-cent piece. On one of the far sandbars, we encountered another seastar -- I don't know the proper name but I call them pink Leopards for their pink "skin" and brown spots -- unabashedly enjoying a mussel or clam or scallop for dinner. (I wished I'd had the camera along! Next time.)

Neil and I disagreed on proper nighttime flashlight protocol, he preferring to shine the light farther out and I preferring to keep it focused on the spot where I'd next step. Of course, there's no right or wrong way. . .just my way. Neil wisely gave me the flashlight, making a mental note (I'm sure) to bring two next time.

Two things struck me as I wandered. The first was that the dark made me look more carefully, actually helping me see things I might've missed in the light of day. I have a friend who writes right away each morning, before she's fully awake. I think there is something to that. The dark made it easier for me to turn off the rational part of my brain and delight in starlit imaginings.

The second is that I noticed what was happening inside me. Both amazement and fear ebbed and waned within. Truthfully, the worst that could've happened would've been getting stuck in a clam hole (trust me, it's not fun) and I knew that . . .but still that buzz of nervousness would crest, like the proverbial seventh wave, drowning out common sense. And I noticed I didn't mind this mini-roller coaster ride. When we ventured out in water that turned quickly too deep, I knew we'd make our way back to solid sand.

So I'm trying to hold on to those two things. To slow down and look, without analyzing overmuch. And, to go ahead and lean into the uneasiness and fear that creating a story brings, but to keep picking my feet up and putting them down, no matter how far out the tide has gone. Eventually I'll make my way to the end of the book, like Neil and I eventually made our way back to the house, where we leaned our boots just inside the back door.

Ready for the next adventure.


  1. That's inspiring :o) Might have to take myself a night time stroll this eve.

  2. 1) Have you read The Highest Tide by Jim Lynch? Your story so reminds me of that book.

    2) Whenever it's your birthday or Valentine's Day or whatever, you should ask for a headlamp. It's a zillion times better than walking with a flashlight.

  3. Dear Mrs. F-B,

    I have read The Highest Tide -- in fact, bought copies for my son and 2 of my nephews for Christmas. I got to hear Jim do a reading in Olympia, Washington-- what a nice guy. And what a good writer! On my midnight walk, I kept hoping I'd discover something as amazing as the boy in the story did.

    Great idea about the headlamp! Maybe I should hire you as my personal shopper, first a desk-top organizer and now this! ;-)

  4. Now, I can picture you perfectly with a headlamp! With a headlamp, you can plumb the depths with both hands free.