Finding home at the edge of the sea

Walking along the beach at my age is not necessarily safe, as I discovered recently on a boulder-strewn beach near Charmouth, Dorset. I took a tumble on two separate days, once trying to negotiate boulders, and then walking onto what I thought was a continuation of the wet grey sand but turned out to be a large, flat, smooth stone thinly covered with grey mud.  I fear my age limitations are beginning to shut me out of some environments.


Sea Change


For my friend, the sea evokes feelings of changing and longing,

with the promise of more life under the waves.


For me now, the boulders on the beach are a war zone

with landmines, instead of a magical mosaic of mini-worlds.


The waves are restlessly humming and slurping,

eating up the beach again, licking rocks smooth.


So many seaweeds, limpets and snails clinging to the rocks,

but these rocks don’t support me.  I don’t belong here.


Where can I belong at the edge of the sea?  My comfort zones are in fields on the cliffs above the sea – often now slowly (or rapidly) disappearing down to the beaches below.  I don’t go too close to the edge, but here I can view the sea all the way to the horizon, watch sea birds gliding, appreciate the other birds, flowers and insects that access this ecotone.  On the day after my first tumble on the beach, I am up in a field above: relaxed, curious, exploring.  The ground is lumpy but feels easy to negotiate.  The sea from above is spacious.  This day it is floaty and calm, but it can be swirled with patterns or heaving in the wind.  I listen to the sighs of unseen waves beneath the cliffs, chiffchaffs in the nearby trees, wrens in the brambles.  I am greeted by the purple faces of tall marsh thistles and their shorter, plumper cousins, globe thistles. Yellow buttercups and cats ears wave on their long stems.  Wild carrot is blooming.  The desire to gaze at two-toned birdsfoot trefoil flowers brings me down into the grass where I am surprised by tiny ten-petaled white flowers hiding there.  I don’t know this flower.  A great black-backed gull is heading west.  Nothing here seems very bothered by my presence and I feel at home.

Author: MaryAb

Born in upstate New York. Moved to the UK in 1971. At home in Devon.

Author: MaryAb

Born in upstate New York. Moved to the UK in 1971. At home in Devon.

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