I have just come back from a walk along the beach. This wasn’t a walk to benefit my body, I couldn’t really call it exercise, there was no puffing involved. I even drove down to the beach so I didn’t have to walk back up the hill afterwards to get home. But the walk definitely benefited my mind.
I wanted to share it all with you, but apart from a mother who had taken her toddler out for a run, a gorgeous sight (mum running around in circles, encouraging her daughter to follow her, the older daughter tagging along behind, giggling) and some lovely driftwood half buried in the sand, I don’t remember much from the first part of the walk. I needed to clear my head, slow down, stop the thoughts going around and around.
I walked along the shore and stopped at the beginning of the dog beach. There were, as always, dogs large and small enjoying the sand and the company. But I didn’t need company today.
I looked out at the water over the rippling waves. The sea was grey and the waves were small. Occasionally they would pretend to be proper waves crashing along the beach making all the right noises but they would never get you wet past your knee. Unlike Sunday when the weather came in from the east and we had six-foot rollers. Full of power and noise, and absolutely gorgeous to watch. But not today, today there was just peace.
There were four or five gulls out in front of me. As the water came in they would stamp their little orange paddle feet to stir up the sand and then quickly jab their beaks down to pick up whatever they found. I watched them for a little while and then I noticed a black and white cormorant a little further out in the water diving for his supper. He caught a fish – I saw a glimmer of silver in his beak and then he swallowed it down and dove under the water again.
I turned to walk back down the beach and the cormorant came too. He would dive and disappear and then pop up again a little further down the beach. Sometimes he would come close to the shore – once I saw him under water through a cresting wave – other times he would dive for ages and reappear out in the deeper water. I kept pace with him, and he kept pace with me. And we had four or five seagulls for company as well.
Out in the deeper water he caught a fish that gave him a bit of trouble. He had to drop it a couple of times and bash it around a bit so that it would fit down his gullet. That made enough of a splash that nine seagulls flew out to where he was, and hassled him for the food, but he managed to eat it all himself and the gulls left him alone and went back to hassling the humans by the fish and chip shop.
The cormorant and I kept pace all the way from the dog beach to the yacht club down the other end. When he was sitting behind me, I kept going, I could leave him in peace if he needed it but then he would catch up, or dive a little way ahead.
At the yacht club end, the smell of seaweed was stronger and there were more shells and pebbles on the sand. There were two oystercatchers with black and white plumage, bright orange eyes, and long orange beaks. They contentedly dug in the sand, not bothered by my presence at all.
I wondered whether the cormorant would turn around and go back up the beach again, and if he did, whether I would take it as a sign to follow him. But once we had got to the end of the beach the cormorant turned and swam out towards the ocean. I watched him for a bit and then I turned for home myself.
Sometimes I wonder why I’m blessed with so much peace, when people suffer so greatly from so much strife and trouble. If only I could bottle the feeling at the beach today and send it around the world.
I hope that by writing this I can plant a seed of peace for you today and that you are blessed by coming with me in your imagination.
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