It was misty on the big thumb that is Clearwater Florida this morning. We live on the inside curve of the Clearwater-St Petersburg peninsula. In the armpit, if you will, of “old Tampa Bay.” The bay is beautiful. Shades of watery blue beneath whitecaps and the shadows of Great Blue Heron wings. A clam pot for birds, a safe passage for kayak and paddleboard the Bay lacks the primordial punch of the great womb that is the Gulf of Mexico.
We drove North and then West to the causeway at Dunedin. We passed through the gate and maneuvered into a parking lot for 100 with 98 spaces left. The thick fog of a bottom-heavy steel gray cloud was just rising as we kicked off our shoes on flour white sand. Bands of blue green water snaked through the opaque ashen waves as the rising sun topped the palms at the edge of the beach. If you want to have color, you have to have light. Without illumination, life is just shades of gray.
Those that show up at the beach on a morning like this didn’t come with sunscreen and a People magazine. We come to the edge to restore and rejoice, or to soak up “beach time”, before the vacation runs out. Some stand ankle deep in salty water to reclaim dreams, or discover new journeys. Some come to petition the deities of great bodies of water for their divine assistance. Today I wasn’t clear who was doing what, except for one of us.
I saw them coming. The two women walked slowly towards us wearing ultramarine blue t-shirts in different sizes. The older woman walked on the left. The deep lines of her face framed her expression of deep gratitude. Clearly this was an extraordinary day for her to be walking here on this thin strip of land between waters, on this March day, with this young woman. The older woman held her worn-well Keds in her hand as they walked barefoot near the water. She leaned in, listening attentively to the words that flowed from her companion. Neither seemed to feel the sharp shell rubble or notice the few passersby. They were intent, focused.
Indeed! They were pregnant with change. The younger woman was supremely pregnant, probably beyond pregnant and well into “overdue.” She walked strong, straight but with great care, balancing a belly that looked as if it might burst open at any moment.
“You came to the right place,”
I thought, thinking of the saltwater that filled that belly. Then I realized,
“We are always in the right place,”
The young woman spoke fervently, passionately. Her arm movements animated her story and the old women with the wrinkles smiled a quiet smile. We passed unseen.
It is my practice to stand at the edge of earth and water to check my trajectory and clear the emotional flotsam. Placing my thoughts in fragile shells, I create a shrine of temporal impermanence that holds my concerns and hopes for this day. The Gulf is my resource for reflection on the mud and miracles that happen daily. I imagine the Nereids float silently nearby, offering illuminating advice that wordlessly seeps into mind and heart through the souls of our feet stuck deep in the moving sands. Their whispered encouragements float down from Tern’s wing,
“Be brave! Be strong! Live! Live!”
Standing in sunlight and blue water one moment, and chilly wind of storm clouds the next, it’s all here, and it’s all good.
“Look at the sea, She lives there,
and She knows how it works,”
was my silent reassurance.
I walked up the beach a bit and found a message scratched in the sand by a sure hand on a sturdy stick. It was addressed to the Sea and the Wisdom herein,
“I am ready now
I am ready now Baby”
March 19, 2018
She chose her Resources wisely I thought, as I wrote,
in the sand with my toe. We are all in this together.
Photos: Carol Martell, Honeymoon State Park, Dunedin Florida