We have reached the last day of our last week here. It was miraculously spent in a square duplex cottage, built optimistically on stilts, on the apron of beach edging a thin spit of land called, by some: Palm Island.
This is a quiet place, most days the beach sees more birds than people and the prevailing sounds are the waves and the wind. This center section of Don Pedro Island is set apart from the mainland by the inward tracing of the intercoastal waterway, a thin green river lined with impenetrable Mangrove colonies denying access to the casual boating interloper. What keeps this island quiet is a short ride on a car ferry whose $50 price tag for cars really curtails one’s desire to come and go. You only get to stay, if you have the clams to pay.
Ours is one of the more modest perches, in a fine position on the sand. We could share breakfast conversation with our right hand neighbors were we to be able to hear them over the sound of the surf. There is nothing so precious as close proximity to the sea, especially to these decade long desert dwellers in the winter. Walking briskly, one can walk from Gulf to Bay in about 4 minutes from this vantage point. Crashing waves and windy bluster on the west side, peaceful green water, manatee and kayakers on the East. It would be hard to be more one with water without being in a boat.
Built over the past 20 years with typical human hubris, this community is a neighborhood of Beach Houses; human poachers in the land of perpetual metamorphosis.
There are many massive multistory edifices here, many empty and more with For Sale signs than without. They all stand on impossibly tall Heron legged pilings to keep them safe from the whim of moving water. We hear from the old timers that those without feet came and went about 10 years ago. These sand castles will stand in this golden and blue-green place…until they don’t. All barrier beaches move, sometimes across centuries, sometimes in a few days. Ask those from Long Beach, NY, a place where more than one in our family /friend circle saw the unthinkable happen. (www.businessinsider.com/hurricane-sandy-flooding-pictures-2012-10)
We are grateful to be a visitor, to hear waves all day and all night, to witness the beauty in front of us “right now.” And is that any different from anyone’s life? Is anyone’s existence much different than a beach house with its toes pounded into the sand? Does anyone really have more of a guarantee of safety and longevity than this?
Thinking deep thoughts is easy when time is relative and days defined by sunrise and sunset. Weather is the mist on your face and the flotsam at your feet. Wind and wave is a whole body experience best studied with wet feet and no agenda. Each day brings new topography and new shells; the colorful refuse of life out there. Soft white Angel wings, pastel periwinkles and cockles of all sizes are tossed up like handbills for upcoming miracles. It is nearly impossible to pass up these treasures, except when the dolphin passes by, or the Osprey dives for dinner, close enough to get you wet.
Being surrounded by water on three sides washes the soul in its most fundamental element. Standing at the edges is to walk in both worlds of me and us. There is magic in awareness of a single human’s diminutive status in the overall scheme of things, and the coexisting sense of Unity with the flowing body of the mercurial and magnanimous Gulf of Mexico. Under these conditions, the precepts of present human culture as we know it are “all shot to hell.”
As they should be. Thanks Mama Cocha