I never need an excuse to walk on the beach, but if I did need one, low tide is the best of all reasons! Though gloomy and gray today, the tide was nice and low, giving a wide expanse for walking and exposing the intertidal zone–more commonly known as tide pools.
Most of the time when I peer into the tide pools I see sea anemones, mussels, and crabs, some sea grass and algae and not much else. We often talk about how rare it is to see a sea star–even though they are native to our area. Today as we walked near the tide pools, my husband noticed a woman putting what looked like sea star into a shallow pool. We headed in that direction.
Sure enough, there it was. A quite large–the size of my hand or maybe bigger–sea star was sitting in the pool. As we stopped and looked we could see the tiny tube feet moving, propelling the star–it was alive! So many questions–where did she find the star? Was it in one of these shallow pools? Was she rescuing it, returning it to the watery pool? Or did she pull it from a pool and was now returning it?
As we left, the tide was on the way up. I’m sure the sea star will find its way back to the place where it lives, somewhere where I seldom see them. I’m glad I got a close look today…so it could provide fodder for today’s poem.
Springing ahead this morning meant the day was already shorter…and who needs a shorter Sunday? Luckily, the day was sunny and relatively warm…a perfect day to enjoy the negative tide promised this afternoon.
When the tide is low the sea pulls back and offers a wide walking beach. New geography is on display: exposed tide pools, unexpected sandbars, and slippery algae covered reefs.
Egrets feast, using their bright yellow feet to stir up tiny fish. As still as statues, they pose and wait…until the perfect moment arrives. And then…mealtime! The gentle sea breeze ruffles those pure white feathers, revealing the layers of texture. As I crouch low we come eye to eye…and understand that we are not in competition. The egret can hunt and I can take photos without disturbing one another.
Crabs scurry, hiding in the cracks and crevices of seaside rocks and hive like reef structures. Sensitive to the tiniest movement, I stand perfectly still and patiently watch until I get a glimpse of the sideways reach. A fist fight between two thumbnail sized green crabs suggests that territory may be in dispute.
Anemones comes in a variety of shapes, sizes and varieties. Some immersed in shallow pools, others exposed in the wet sand…all adapted for the harsh conditions of the tidal zone.
The beach is an ever-changing wonder that I explore endlessly. For me it is my gym, my photo studio, my meditation space, my therapist. And on days when the tide is low and my schedule is flexible, it is simply a playground filled with delight!
Though it’s still April, we’re already dealing with what will soon become May gray. It’s that pervasive marine layer that characterizes spring and early summer here in Southern CA. But we really can’t complain. The weather is mild and the ocean always welcomes.
Today I noticed the royal terns hanging out on the beach. Before I knew what they were, I called them Groucho Marx seagulls. They have big dark eyebrows and a bright orange beak. Distinctive, distinguished, comical.