The usual blessed everydayness.

My beach visits are challenging my writing skills, no doubt about that! The seashore and its constant change, my being on The Edge of such a vast expanse of water and sky, caressed or buffeted by forces of wind and waves… it’s thrilling. I could write that sentence every time I go, but it would convey sameness, when there is nothing the same, ever.

I was excited yesterday to be going when it was a minus tide, a term I hadn’t even heard until a month ago. These events seem to happen mostly at night; I hope to learn more about why that is, when I get the books I ordered online and from the library, about waves, tides, beaches and seashores.

Yesterday’s minus tide was at about 3:00 p.m. I was surprised at all of the puddles and pools in various places on the beach, not just at the north end where the rocks hide creatures. The receded tide revealed a wide expanse of flat beach that shone like glass.

Great heaps of every kind of sea plant, vegetable, and kelp had been left in swaths on the shore. I wished I had someone with me who knew the names of everything! And if I had thought of it, I could have taken home enough to make a giant kettle of seaweed soup.

One specimen of Flustrellidra was floating in a tidepool. I found that name while searching last night for the name of a seaweed that I did eat when I got home.

Floating Flustrellidra

In those rocky pools I didn’t see any hermit crabs or sea stars; only a few mussels clinging under rocks. My foot slipped a bit when I was looking down into the water — I think that was when I was still wearing my sandals, because I thought I would be steadier with them on — and when I shifted my gaze to the surface of the rocks on which I stood, I realized that they were all green, that is, where they weren’t covered with black seaweed hanging down like greasy hair. So everything I might grasp with hand or foot was slimy. I soon left that area.

One thing always fun is the way the texture of the sand underfoot changes every few yards. Where it was gravelly I sank down mid-calf; a short distance beyond, the surface was firm. My feet standing on that hard and flat “patio” were red and seemingly shrunken from their chilly bath.

It was when I was walking back from the rocks that the happiness peaked. I thought of my late husband and wished we could be walking in the waves together. Maybe I thought of him because I had been listening to The Aviator on the drive out, thinking with Innokenty about his finally having lost the only one who had shared the era and experiences of his previous life, who also remembered the important things. And there was this:

“Now, as life is settling into a routine little by little, happiness shows through everything, through the most common everydayness, no matter what I do. Everydayness is essentially happiness… finally, to simply live.”

As I was splashing through the shallow water it occurred to me that my husband does actually share this happiness with me. There is one happiness that is a gift from God. It is the same reality that “shows through” whenever and wherever it happens, and reveals itself as being unbounded by time. A gift of spiritual sunshine that warms the soul in such a way that it’s obvious nothing is lacking. Mere existence is huge and blessed, the moment fills everything, and all the happinesses that have ever been are in that fullness.

I found several things on the beach. First, two big sand dollars. The first one was almost perfect. It had only a little chip on the edge, and I put it carefully in my bag. Later, just after passing a very young family with a preschooler, who were playing in the sand, I found another dollar, truly pristine, and I offered it to them. From the looks on their faces, they had never seen one before.

A beautiful, snack sized piece of seaweed fell out of a wave on to the sand, and I put it in my bag, too. You can see it further down.

And then — I found this dolly.

“She actually likes being tossed in the waves,” I thought, when I saw the expression on her face. She is some surfer girl! I dropped her in my bag, too, without the slightest doubt that it was the right thing to do. I would take her home and clean the sand out of her hair….

I haven’t managed to clean her hair thoroughly; I don’t know if the plants are attached to her or just tangled in her tresses. After seeing how integrated with marine life she has become, I began to wonder if she belongs to the sea now. Is the missing half of her hair currently in suspension with the other microparticles of plastic that live there?

She seems a kindred spirit, and for the time being she sits on  my computer table reminding me of our common love for the ocean waves. I need to give her a name. Any ideas?

The piece of “lettuce” I collected, I washed very well at home, and thought I had identified it. I ate it raw in the evening — it was rubbery and fairly tasteless — and then searched in vain online for a name for it. I think it’s probably a red or brown algae. One article I found last week said that all the seaweeds are edible, and last night I read some people saying that you should be careful not to eat too much of any kind. Not too much danger of that in my case!

When I have published this post, I plan to add it to my new Page tabbed at the top of my site, titled Sea Log. I’m glad for the virtual companionship of any of you who would like to share in my seashore explorations. May they long continue, Please God.

13 thoughts on “The usual blessed everydayness.

  1. “I must go down to the sea again” … beaches are open to the public once more – I haven’t set foot on a beach for well over a year now and your wonderful descriptions and pictures remind me what is waiting less than an hour away from me! I have enjoyed this virtual visit along the beach, exploring the rock pools, as well as your finds. The loss of that little doll must have caused tears to flow, yet this probably happened a while ago and the tears assuaged with the purchase of another one perhaps. I feel pleased that you rescued her.

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  2. I’m grateful for your heart, your sight, your language. Little one is sick: I’m lying in the dark next to him, listening to his stuffy breathing mixing with the ocean waves of the white noise machine, and I felt somehow I was there with you on that glassy shore. For the doll, her sweet face made me think of “Tildy.” Love to you always.

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  3. It’s frigid here. Snow all over roofs and bushes I see from the window. Warm inside, and warmer still as I read about your day and stare at the pictures, wondering is there really such a place, such sights. You make visits possible, Gretchen. You extend our world. But eating raw sea grass? I could have imagined it if I hadn’t seen the photographs. Adventuresome, you. Leading the way out of our small houses.

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  4. A name. How about Seanna? I made it up, I think, back when I thought one day I may have daughters. I have sons, so you can have the name. It’s said like Sea…anna. 😊

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  5. If you didn’t know it before, you have found more than seaweed and a doll at the shore. You have found your muse and she is working overtime, giving you the gift of inspiration and eloquence. This is a glorious post, Gretchen. Filled with love, heart, awe, exploration. It reads like a chapter in a very good book, one of those personal story books that take us to another world.

    A note about the doll. I think she is a kindred spirit to you. And while in some ways she may belong to the sea, in returning she might be eaten by an unsuspecting sea creature who may die because of the plastic. On land, she might be devoured by a bird or another animal. She does look a bit like a piece of bait. I think it I had found her, cleaned her, loved her, I might carry her back in my bag to revisit her spot — but leave her out of the water, off the land.

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  6. Your lovely post served as spiritual and nature fodder for me and the children this morning at breakfast. All four children were captivated by the doll find and I by the quote, “Now, as life is settling into a routine little by little, happiness shows through everything, through the most common everydayness, no matter what I do. Everydayness is essentially happiness… finally, to simply live.” Thank-you for sharing. I hope we can wander the seashore with you many more times in the days ahead, virtually, and even better, in person, in the near future.

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  7. I worked in a restaurant as a teenager in Fort Bragg. The staff kept an eye on the tide charts, because when there was a big minus tide we knew we would be slammed. All the abalone divers who came to town needed to eat… I remember a really big one happened in February one year.

    How about Meredith? It’s Welsh for “sea lord”.

    D.

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  8. I found a list of 21 baby names associated with the sea online when I googled “girls’ names associated with the sea” but my favorite was “Kailana” Hawaiian for “sea and sky”.

    I loved your quote from “The Aviator” that “everydayness is essentially happiness”. When I was a child one of my favorite hymns was “Little Jimmy Brown” by Tennessee Ernie Ford. It was basically a song about a boy baby who is born, lives a life of simple everydayness during which he marries and has a family and then passes on to return to his Lord. To some it is a recipe for absolute boredom, but to me that simple life called and brought tears to my eyes when I heard that song. Cathy V.

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  9. I enjoyed walking on the beach with you. Well, maybe not the sinking into the gravel mid thigh. That part wasn’t fun. I’m thankful you didn’t slip and fall on the slimy rocks.

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  10. C. S. Lewis wrote an essay titled “Xmas and Christmas: A Lost Chapter from Herodotus.” I feel like I have just read a lost chapter from Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea!

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