The Sea and Sky as One


Looking out over the tawny, rippled sand dunes, the sky and ocean have merged. From this distance, they are indistinguishable like a Russell Chatham landscape painting. The rain falling from the black clouds connects sky and saltwater like a liquid curtain. It is impossible to tell where one ends and the other begins. They have become one, in a very real sense, as we are about to experience. As the storm makes landfall, we experience this connection as no mere appearance. In the matter of seconds we are pelted with rain drops and would be drenched if it was not for our rain jackets and the protection of spruce, pine and myrtle.

We hike through a dwarf forest of ages past, a relic of another time as water fills our world. Diminutive lodgepole pine (called beach pine here on the coast) and sitka spruce mix with bearberry and reindeer lichen, species of more northern climes that have held on here since the last ice age. For some 10,000 (or more) years they have hung on here, the southern extent of their place in the world. Deep greens, red berries and silver lichens, myriad mushrooms popping through the sand and duff. A magical place where we pretend that fairies live and love, thrive and survive. This is not a species that I have seen but I am not so hardened in my adult beliefs to not imagine that this would be their habitat. There might be some right now taking refuge from the rain under one of the broad-capped mushrooms called slippery jacks.

I hurry along with Madeleine on my shoulders perched atop my backpack. The rain shower passes as shorebirds zoom by on their way from the bay to the beach, where they will run up and down the waveslope snatching up food. The shower is over quickly and we remain mostly dry; enlivened by the passing squall and the chance to experience nature’s splendor, reindeer lichen, rainfall, fairies and all.


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