Writing Out Loud


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And the sea does not change…

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I realized not long ago that the words in the title, which were sung by Stevie Nicks many years ago now, still apply and always have really. The sea DOESN’T change, at least not in our human understanding and perception of change. Yes, it changes daily, hourly, and every second in places we can’t see from the shore. Some forms of life die while others are just starting out. The ocean floor shifts due to pressure from the earth’s core, and everything that sea water contains evolves constantly. And the oceans themselves continue to be redesigned by meteorological and seismic forces since they were formed. From one great body of water to what we know now, it has never stopped changing.

To us, however, it is always the same. Aside from the tides going in and out, a process that affects everything the water touches in its calmness or its ferocity, we look out, despite the season, over the same vast expanse of water that we did yesterday, the day before that, and that we will tomorrow. It is that eternal quality of the sea that is its appeal…that it’s there always…never going away…never completely evaporating into the atmosphere and leaving us high and dry in many more ways than merely visually.

For there is, and has always been among humans, a deep connection with the ocean. It is, after all, where all life has emanated from, and it still flows through us in a very tangible way. Because of its perseverance, it has also become a symbol of strength and grandeur which often moves us in deeply emotional ways. “Going to the beach” just scratches the surface, for reams and reams of poetry and other literature have been penned in honor to those shifting blue-green waves and the energy they produce and store.

I can┬ávisit a beach, any beach, at any time of year, and its basic components are not much different from what they were six months ago. Here, in the northeastern United States, where we are privileged to experience the four distinct seasons, the sea is the only medium that remains fluid and mobile all the year round. And I can be standing on a shore that is backed up with several feet of snow, yet I’d never know it gazing out over the water. For it, as always, remains the same…rising, falling, advancing, receding, ebbing, flowing, lapping or crashing…whether it be winter, spring, summer, or fall.

The sea does not change…which gives us here in coastal New England a visual respite from the doldrums of winter. For we can head down to the beach any time of day and, hopefully, watch the sun playing with the waves, a scene that never fails to erase anything else that might be going on inside our tired minds.

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Contrast and Complement

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On a beach walk not long ago, I came upon a rock formation that someone had constructed near the shoreline. Called a cairn, it’s an assortment of stones organized in such a way as to complement, while also contrasting with, its surroundings. Some cairns stand out insistently against their backgrounds, while others, like the one in the photo, mirrors the sea behind and around it.

Notice the smooth texture of the stones themselves, how they mimic the ocean’s fluidity both in shape and color. Look at the similarities between how effortlessly the stone’s materials seem to flow and the sea. If their edges were dulled, they’d blend perfectly with the ocean water.

As for color, notice how the second, fourth and sixth largest stones from the top pick up the blue of the sea, while the third and seventh stones continue the color from the larger rocks in the outcropping and some of the seaweed growing among them. The second and fourth largest rocks from the top also pick up some of the coloring of the sea-foam, and the very top largest stone picks up some of the pale and subtle mauve hues from other outcropping rocks.

I like to think of the bright red stone at the top as the cherry on this cake of stone layers. It provides the sharpest contrast of all, but still does manage to reflect the color found in some species of seaweed.

I have to wonder if the person who built this cairn had all this in mind, or if it was just the random product of his or her imagination. Whatever the case may be, it’s amazing how well it fits into this ocean scenery.