Thursday, January 28, 2010

Ode to the Beach in Winter

There’s a great view from atop a dune, but I prefer proximity to the sea. If you walk long enough, the experience becomes a form of meditation. Walking a beach, at low tide, in the sunshine, is one of the supreme joys in life. Who can remain indifferent to the ocean's beauty and that limitless horizon?

In summer, every seventh wave is larger, a pattern that does not appear so evident the rest of the year. Waves break at regular intervals, sending foam shooting up the beach. The sea engages us with this repetitive movement, over and over, hypnotic, comforting.

Silence dominates, enveloping us like a cocoon, as we proceed, step by long step, in the lee of the dune. Usually, a soft breeze will be blowing. Alone with one's thoughts, daily worries recede and nature becomes all that matters.

Summer visitors don't know what they’re missing. For one thing, after each wave has receded, a small amount of water remains on the beach. This water reflects the sky, making the shore shimmer baby blue, a magical sight of breathtaking beauty.

The sandy shoreline stretches off into the distance. All that beige has a calming effect, better than any tranquilizer. Who could take such a walk and not return refreshed?

The tide creates crevasses and trails in the sand, subtle markings that will last only a few hours, then disappear. Sometimes these lines remind me of Egyptian art. Here, for instance, a stone caused the receding water to divide into two narrow streams.

Sometimes, in winter, a cold wind will keep us off the beach. At such times we walk the woods instead. The National Seashore offers many trails with extraordinary views of kettle ponds, but a Seashore hike is not as satisfying as a beach walk.

Do you have a non-traditional means of meditation?