Saturday, October 15, 2011


October 15, 2011

Good Morning Andrea,

My stuff is all packed.  The cooler, the picnic basket, the books I brought to read, Sadie’s blanket--are all waiting on the screened in porch to be placed like puzzle pieces in the back of the Subaru.

I should be sad to leave.  I am not.  I am grateful for this six days here at the Writer’s Refuge on Whidbey Island.  I am looking forward to coming back.  I am looking forward to going home.

Yesterday Sadie and I went back to Double Bluff Beach.  This time I brought my backpack and packed a picnic.  As my feet left the pavement and hit the sand, my cell phone let me know I had a text message.  Earlier in the morning, I had texted Steve I was headed to the beach after noon.

“Hope your walk is good today.  Something about beaches…the wide expanse adjusts your perspective.”

I texted back, “That is where I am now.  Abt two miles fm car.  Pockets full of shells and rocks.”

“Pick out the best handful and leave the rest for others to enjoy.”  He wrote.

“K”  I answer.  I see a sand dollar lying on seaweed.  I am a woman with riches beyond measure.

I answer to no one here.  I am judged only by myself.  I will fill my pockets until they are overflowing. When they are full, I have my backpack.  This wide expanse of beach invites possibilities.

I do not know how far I walked.  There was no map, no itinerary, no clock.  There was only the tide changing, coming in. 

“Be careful of the tide.  It can strand you on the other side of the bluff.  The bluff is steep—cannot be climbed,” a sign at the entrance to the beach cautioned. 

I am all too familiar with being stranded.  Being closed in by tides of feeling, unable to climb or swim to get back home, I simply wait.  The tide will go back out again.  As it does, I sit on a piece of driftwood, and listen to shells being ground to sand, cockles growing hidden in bits of seaweed, dying rock crabs.  I let the wind and salt hour scour my cheeks and the tip of my nose until they feel like a layer has been abraded.  But I will not be stranded here today.  I am mindful of  when to expect high and low tide.

This pocket full of shells and rocks comes with me now.  A reminder.  When I get home, I will but them in a bowl and set them on the table.  They are the souvenirs of solitude I take with me from this place.

I wanted to see what was on the other side of the bluff.  More beach.  Miles of it.  It felt like if I kept going, I could walk the circumference of the island.  There would be another bluff that calls me out to see what lies on the other side.

Sadie and I sat on the beach and shared crackers and tuna fish.  I did not want hunger to limit how far I walked this day.  The only limitation I would accept, is the one I put on myself.  I would leave this sand and water when I was ready.  And only when I was ready.

Two hours later I turned around.  On the way out, I walked along the tide pools.  Tiptoed around small anemones.  Was careful not disturb the periwinkles stuck to bits of rocks and seaweed.  Counted mussels until I lost interest in that.  I picked up bits of clay, crumbled them, wet them with seawater and made a small bowl.  Then left it at the water’s edge, an offering of what, I do not know. 

On the way back I traced the lines of seaweed washed ashore.  It was full of dead rock crabs, bits of empty shells, a couple of dead Lion’s Mane jellyfish looking like congealed globs of blood, a dead fish, and what looked like a dead baby sea lion with the placenta still attached. 

In the midst of all of that, another sand dollar.

I need a shower now.  I have to check out of here by noon. 

The back of my car is full of sand.  My pockets are filled with shells.  My heart is still again.

Refuge.  Retreat.  Regenerate.

This is something new.

                                        I love you Andie,