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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Beach talk

In which the artist takes a day at the beach, and talks to an elder earth creature...

While we all have different spiritual and religious beliefs, the ocean can not be visited without regaining a new perspective on one's tiny little life.
Walking on the sand, looking out at the endless horizon line of sea, I feel a conversation taking place. One might refer to the 'sound of the waves" but as I walked I realized the ocean is really one long 'crash' or vibration of a living entity. I really believe we are all from the same primordial birth waters, but I think some of us are more sensitive to the chord that still exists from our core to that core of the giant water creature. Hence the term, "drawn to the ocean."

I had not taken a beach day for many months, since... last fall? I can't remember. And I needed to have a conversation with it. I felt some things were a bit unbalanced in me. I needed perspective, from an elder earth dweller like the ocean. I took one book with me, "Wind in the Willows" from my brother's childhood library, complete with his 8 year old handwriting in it. I had never read it, and was drawn to it for some reason. In it, the rat who adores his river home, and has no reason or desire to live anywhere else, speaks of the river as a living being. I read for hours, all with the one long sound of the ocean drumming around me, never ending. Imagine, the sound of the ocean never ends. While some of you sit in offices, or in cabs or subways, the ocean is still shouting.

I walked, and walked. I saw the footprints of a dog, in a running pattern. Close to those prints, a young child's bare foot prints. But no adult prints followed.

In the 60ish, drizzly, and very windy weather, this former prairie Minnesotan, thrived. I wore sweaters and a coat and a handmade scarf from a friend- the latter was blue, deep blue. I grabbed the scarf as I went out the door, not planned, but I think now it was not a random decision. Surely the deep blue color was already the ocean conversing, 'I know you're coming." I picked only 5 special things off the beach. They will go to some land-locked friends that need the ocean hum too. I have quit carrying too much off the shore, as it seems it should stay there. It must be such a shock to live in the ocean, and then end up on the shore after such a long, hard journey. Why uproot it more by carrying it off to a shelf. But these items hold medicines for those that will receive them.

I tried to scientifically ponder sand. How deep it is. Where does it start and end. But I ended up just seeing the sand as skin, sloughed off by the ocean as unnecessary weight, and given to us as a gift. Sand, giant rocks the ocean broke into bits, over and over, and tossed back to land for a better use. While our skin holds our heart and vital organs inside, keeping our veins and bones protected from the elements, the ocean boldly says, "I don't need skin, here, take it, walk on it." Put your ear to someone's chest and you hear a beating heart. Stand by the ocean, and you hear your own heart, and your mother's, and father's and everyone, and every living creature, once here or now dust.

A walk on the beach makes me feel very small which is balancing for the ego, but it also makes me feel very important, very individual, like a grain of sand. The ocean isn't going to do you any favors, but it's always there for perspective.


Amy Schimler-Safford said...

Beautifully written. I am aching to visit the ocean.... I grew up a block away, never taking it for granted, but now envious of how I lived with those sounds and smells daily.

I thought of you today, as I was driving home from the grocery store I heard on the classical radio station a song titled, "Dance of the Shepherd Girl". I think it was Scottish.

Katherine Dunn/Apifera Farm said...

Well, it's about time someone wrote a song about me...I didn't know you grew up on the coast. I think many have fantasie of living on the ocean. I know I thought about it when I first moved to Portland and was single. Still, I knew it was not the right thing. Much prefer to be surrounded by land and forest. People also don't realize, in Oregon anyway, the summers are more cool and rainy on the beach, the winters [though fabulous] are very wet which means you never can dry anything out, anything. I've heard of so many that move to the ocean towns, then move back after one or 2 years.
Still, it's magic, I'm blessed to live so close!

JoyceV said...


A very descriptive moving piece on the ocean. Your ocean sounds so much different than mine, yet so similar. I have lived by the beach and on the sand for the past 25 to 28 years (Hawaii too). I guess I am what you'd call a beach girl. I don't know what it is about the magic that draws me to it. It's calmness? It's absolute massiveness and strength? I'm pretty much terrified of it in a way that I've never felt so absolutely at someone's mercy. And yet it's gentle. When we walk the jetties and walk the sand, I feel so miniscule and so unimportant. (or my worries seem unimportant.) You really hit that on the head.
Every time I go away to the mountains and forests, I think that those places would be perfect for me, but then I come home and don't realize how i had missed the salt in the air, the ocean breezes. And here in the summer you appreciate those ocean breezes. It's different from Oregon. I visited Alaska last year and those beaches were different and on a much grander scale. I was in awe.

I live a few blocks in from the sand now and must profess, I do not miss the sand blowing into my windows all day. It was my one annoyance. But how many people could sit and do their art work all day and have a view of a glistening ocean and watch a pod of Dolphins swimming by or see a whale from their window. I wouldn't trade that place on the beach for 5 years for anything in the world. It would make art directors in NY envious when it was snowing there and I was watching Dolphins as we were talking.

I only miss that I can't have little ponies or Donkeys.


Katherine Dunn/Apifera Farm said...

Hi Joyce- thank you for sharing that- you do have a wonderful setting, don't you? There 's also a magic about the 'ritual' of packing up and going to the beach, or the beach house, or cabin. I know too, like this morning, I thought I was smelling the beach/ocean when I awoke on my farm, but I wasn't [in real]. It was just the energy was still strong in me [I smelled my clothes and could not smell beach]. The salt air is really hard on my fairly like irish skin, I must say.

Cathy said...

Reading your beautiful words is almost as good as being there myself! Nothing grounds me like the ocean. When I'm stressed or sad, I imagine I'm off the coast of Lanai swimming with the little wild dolphins.

The ocean was on my mind while knitting that scarf... I'm honored you took it with you.

Katherine Dunn/Apifera Farm said...

Cathy- the weight of the scarf is just perfect. I hate bulk around my neck, but wear a scarf constantly. I have a scarf that is my'uniform' that I love but it's nice to have an agreeable option. Plus I can wrap it around and it's stylin but functional. Very pick I am about scarves!

Cathy said...

AND it's machine washable! heh

Dan Dutton said...

This is such a gorgeous post Katherine! Now I AM totally envious ~ but if there's anyone that I'd have enjoy the ocean in my stead it would be you, conveying the joy on as you do. ALMOST as good as being there! Oh dear, I am very nostalgic for it now! & my epiderm, how long will it remain supple sans saltwater immersion...? I'm going right now to rub all my magic sea-spindles.

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Thank you for reading! The farm and my art/writing keep me hopping, so might not respond immediately. Thank you for understanding. ~Katherine & Apifera ~