Musings from a Beach House
Halloo to summer! Wild roses and daisies festoon sandy paths that meander near the ocean’s edge and carry me down from my cottage to the beach. I want to explode in joy as I play tag with the incoming tide and watch tiny translucent beach hoppers jump about the sand and feast on disoriented gypsy moth caterpillars that have landed too near the tide. Life and death are intertwined.
Today, we shout hurrah for light in the northern hemisphere, while in the southern hemisphere, day dims to early twilight. There is no life without death. The solstice is a boundary from which life slowly recedes toward the dark, until death’s boundary says no more, and then life and light edge back to explode in heat and the passionate pounding of the surf.
One afternoon a humpback whale patrolled the waters just off our stretch of beach. All the cottagers rushed out to see and shout their approval when the whale raised its head out of the water. We land creatures were mesmerized by our mammalian cousin from the deep. Two worlds touch on this band of sand that shrinks and swells with the tide. Above, sentinel dunes rise to warn land creatures that here the sea rules.
As I sit at the kitchen table in my beach cottage looking out over a vast expanse of ocean that is in constant motion, I am reminded of my smallness. The houses atop the eroding dunes are only here on borrowed time until a fierce nor’easter gale whips in and pulls the sand out from under their moorings. I met one woman who commutes from Truro to Wellfleet to sit on her deck–all that remains of her cottage by the sea. The transient nature of reality is tangible here.
Luxuriating in my eastern view over the ocean, I stayed up to watch the moon slowly arc into fullness the first night I was there. On two following nights, I watched the ruddy rise of the moon’s narrowing lemon drop shape, but then her cycle of light no longer synced with mine. But even when invisible she remains mistress of the endless roll and suspiration of the sea.
Once, I woke up early enough for the pre-summer solstice sunrise. When I silenced my 4:55 AM alarm, birds already were atwitter and the windows light. In robe and slippers, I padded out onto the porch to be greeted by a flight of salmon clouds fanning out to the north. On the horizon, a small band of luminescent red quivered and slowly became an orb emerging from its night’s slumber—a liminal moment repeated over and over round the globe, but magical to behold.
The longer I lingered by the sea, the more my hectic city life receded. I read more, thought more, wrote more because cell service was spotty, there was no internet access, no television, and I didn’t think to bring a radio. I created my own news desert, quite a luxury in these hey days of the Trumpian circus. This is how I want to grow old, slowly reclaiming my life from the world of commitments and having more time to call my own. I long to just be. My precious life is a vanishing resource soon to be reclaimed by the sea.
I feel like a peeled orange. My thick layer is ripped off. I am more sensitive to touch, smell, sensation—a thin membrane exists between the embodied world and the realm of spirit. I feel my crone sun of inward knowing pulsing with the force of a dark inner sun at solstice. Anne Morrow Lindbergh writes in Gift from the Sea, “I must try to be alone for part of each year, even a week or a few days; and for part of each day, even for an hour or a few minutes in order to keep my core, my center, my island quality” (58).
I want time to dive into the waves of my unconscious and return like a humpback whale with a mouth full of krill and plankton. I do not swallow it but spew it forth onto the deck of my conscious mind to sort. I dive again and spew, again and spew. Slowly from the sea’s detritus patterns emerge. To be my deepest, truest self, I need space and time to call my own, to open my soul and sift through its contents and shape them into my gift to the world.
Every woman, every crone, needs time in quiet, alone, to pray, contemplate, listen to music, read, study or work. “It can be physical or intellectual or artistic, any creative life proceeding from oneself,” Lindbergh writes (56). Even if our creations are washed away with the next tide, still the act of creating even simple things connects us with the inner core of our being.
Wishing you joy,
On this the longest day of the year, take an hour, or two, just for yourself alone to tap the wellsprings of your creativity. Be still within to listen for the guiding whisper of the goddess, “This way, O, my Soul.” Sing, dance, lie in the sun, walk in nature, work in your garden, paint a picture, write a poem, story or journal entry–immerse yourself in you.
Save the date:
Do you want to connect with other crones? The Crones Council is holding a gathering in Salt Lake City, Oct 4-8, 2017. https://www.cronescounsel.org/