Gardens and Beaches

The garden and the beach have a lot in common: they present a new face each day depending on weather and light and all the other exigencies nature throws in their way.
They never fail to amaze, amuse and baffle. Which is why we like to beachcomb and to garden: we want to be swept away on some sort of Zenish wave that removes us from Self. And the ocean itself is like a giant heartbeat, comforting and rocking the walker by the sea.

During one of the daily excursions,  I found a huge orphan shell stranded on the part of the beach I travel most often. I was thrilled because it is perfect, the inside nacre is untrammel by what’s, no doubt been, a rocky ride. A lady passing said “Oh I have nine of those.” I was stunned. I had made up all sort of symbolic preciousness about this one shell which found me.

An old guy with a metal detector said “If you want hundreds more of those you just have to walk the other way,”

So I did and came across a cache of shells all of them just lying there like a bunch of flotsam. Suddenly my own shell lost some of its enormous luster.

I went back the next day to look at the shell pile but not one was to be seen. “Depends on the tides.” Said a passerby who offered me a small shell in compensation. My shells became valuable again.

So this reminds me of how we love to have rare plants, how when we see the same plant piled up in big box stores it becomes less interesting. But of course this is as foolish as me with the shells. Whatever nature presents us is a miracle of design, of craftsmanship and should be treasured for its individuality.

These shells I like are sea snails, great big slugs one person said. Make sure you get it out or it will stink. But why would I want the home of a living animal? I put a lot of them back because they were still inhabited. Life’s tough enough for a sea snail without some dope dumping them into the sink.

I’ve learned a lot about the beach in these weeks in Carpinteria. And the beach here as every shore is at risk. We were startled by the size of the waves that hit here when the tsunamis fanned out from the horrors of the Chilean earthquake. We got only a small blip by comparison. But the waves were big enough to breach the very large (two storey high)  berm outside our building. Now that’s wave action.

  • Meredith

    March 5, 2010 at 12:15 am

    Marjorie, what a lovely article! Doesn’t everything in life seem to “depend on the tides?” How beautifully you’ve written about duality and appreciating exactly what we have in front of us. I’m glad you were able to perceive these jewels that nature presented to you… and to write about them so well.

  • Larry Geyer

    March 5, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    I most certainly agree with Meredith and had to state that because life is so fragile. We need to treasure each and
    all of the things God brings us into contact with as we cannot know when they move on and we see them no more.
    Thank you for sharing

  • Diane

    March 6, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    This post reminds me of robins…. how at the first sighting in spring they’re exotic but by June we are scanning for more brilliant plumage.

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