Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Everyday Life 30 :: 16 When the Tide is Low

Grab a mug of tea, roll up your pant legs and come with us to the beach. The tide was very low yesterday... -1.8.

We arrived before the tide was at its lowest point and one could almost pretend it was going to keep rolling back, until we could step and explore all the way to the pali of the Honoka'a Coast.

It was a bit cold. We were fortunate that we were between storms, so we could walk and enjoy the sights without getting rained on. Alex even brought his sketch book, and of course I brought my camera.

In every direction there was something beautiful, interesting, surprising... The tide will be low today too. If you can, go see the tide pools, because these pictures just can't do it justice. Respectfully, we gently touch and turn things over, always returning creatures to the same spot. Inside this hand sized shell lives a bright orange snail with black striations. Max explained that he has a special hard plate that he covers himself with so that he can close his door when enemies call.

We were careful. Everywhere there were crabs, anemones, mussels, brittle stars, sea stars, sea hares and octopi.

It is fun to find something new, to call everyone over to share your discovery.

Watching our step, encouraging Maria, who is not overly fond of the rocky spots, we kept venturing forth and finding more and more to be in awe of.

Such sights. Everywhere.

Max narrates all of his impressions, finds and enthusiasm, and he eagerly shares it with anyone who's interested. Maria follows him as far as she dares. One brother or her mother was always close by, to hold her hand, encourage her independence, or give her a lift.

I was happy to see sea stars. Their colors are so pretty and their patterns and shape are so magical.

They are slow and deliberate movers, and very strong. They feel crusty, like a hard bread with a sandpapered finish.

An octopus feels like the squishiest jelly, until its suctions attach, then you are confronted with their incredible strength.

It changed colors and patterns as it moved from one hand to another, over rocks... gracefully, sleek and wondrous.

It pays to sit still and observe, even seemingly quiet pools, because there are life forms that are quite surprising in their appearance. The sea hare looks very much like a piece of kelp. This strange animal unfolds and undulates, shows vivid shocks of blue patterns, and feels like soft gelatin. I don't know why, but I always attribute the sea hare with a kind heart and qualities of charm and humility. I like sea hares.

And I like all of the colors and the reflections in the water, from the sky, from the plants and shells. Every surface has something to gaze at and admire.

My thoughts bounce between science and whimsy when confronted with the sights of the tide pools. I worry about what's missing from the tide pools. How there seems to be far, far less quantity and variety of sea life than I remember finding as a child. And then I can imagine I see the remains of an undersea white wedding, or snowflakes in a pool. I hear the "The Jabberwocky:"

"O Oysters," said the Carpenter,
"You've had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?'
But answer came there none--
And this was scarcely odd, because
They'd eaten every one.

We saw every color. Well, almost every color. Like orange and red, black, brown, white, purple, blue, pink, magenta, aquamarine. Green.

And it would seem I was not the only one enjoying flights of fancy... this crab was seen scuttling across the sand and scurrying between the sandstone formations.


Jennifer said...

I feel that I can smell the ocean, and feel the sand, when I look at these photos. We love tide pools too, though our creatures are a bit different; we see cities and maps and homes and possibilities where ever we look, and we can't stop looking -- not easily, anyway. I love that little octopus...

Laura Jane said...

I love sea-hares too. Love your giant scuttling crab!

Tracy said...

Such fun! I felt, well, like I had a day at the beach with you all! A great treats, as it rains here in Norway today...Happy week, my friend ((HUGS))

Lesley said...

Love these seaside posts, Natalie.
I do shiver with nervousness when I see you guys picking things up, though. When I lived in the North-West of Western Australia (tropics), at the beach we had to be aware of sea-snakes, some species of jellyfish, cone shells and blue-ringed octopus — all of them deadly — so that's kind of wrecked my fondness for sticking my hands in tidal pools, even in less extreme regions!

nikkipolani said...

Natalie, Natalie. These are just so stunning. I LOVE the shot you took of Max and the clam. I just want to plant a kiss on that sweet cheek of his. And the shot of sky reflected in the water is beautiful beyond words. Thank you for these wonderful images.

Julie said...

It is like we live on completely different planets, lol. Check out the scenery shots I took this week.

village mama said...

Ahhh, I could smell the fresh, musty sea.
Your photography is magical.

calamitykim said...

Now, that's a day at the beach!
Really Beautiful! Thank you so much! I really enjoyed that! Does the octopus hurt? Like when it suctions on to you? I have never seen one that size or touched one. Here all we have are sand dollars and shells