The sea throws up wonders on its shore. California collects these things like a memory of some past high tide.
Some of my fondest memories from CA are of low tide. In sheltered back-bays the sea reveals for only those few hours treasures that it nurtures there. Mud-flats gurgle with life. Exposure to air mates the ooze with the vital scent of decay. One bright morning while I was fighting Sol’s intrusion for a few extra minutes sleep my partner rubbed cod liver oil on her teeth and breathed sultry breaths into my nostrils; it was low tide all over the world.
“But look! here come more crowds, pacing straight for the water, and seemingly bound for a dive. Strange! Nothing will content them but the extremest limit of the land; loitering under the shady lee of yonder warehouses will not suffice. No. They must get just as nigh the water as they possibly can without falling in. And there they stand -- miles of them -- leagues. Inlanders all, they come from lanes and alleys, streets and avenues, -- north, east, south, and west. Yet here they all unite. Tell me, does the magnetic virtue of the needles of the compasses of all those ships attract them thither?
Once more. Say, you are in the country; in some high land of lakes. Take almost any path you please, and ten to one it carries you down in a dale, and leaves you there by a pool in the stream. There is magic in it. Let the most absent- minded of men be plunged in his deepest reveries -- stand that man on his legs, set his feet a-going, and he will infallibly lead you to water, if water there be in all that region. Should you ever be athirst in the great American desert, try this experiment, if your caravan happen to be supplied with a metaphysical professor. Yes, as every one knows, meditation and water are wedded for ever.” -- Herman Melville from Moby Dick chapter 1
There is a rhythm to tides which resonates with the beating of my heart. The tide comes in to leave its traces high on the beach, and then slides away to reveal tide-pools and the tender surfaces of mudflats. When I watch the sea I am drawn to its edge. I follow it out, and then retreat from it as it comes in. It is a slow motion version of a child dancing away from waves breaking on a pebble beach. One could smile and dance with the sea through many layers of its rhythm.
What changes in my life lead me towards, and then away from, the California shore? Is there some great tidal flux in my mental state that lets me oscillate to the rhythm of obfuscated motivations?