We continued to discover and frequent gems of common interest. A favorite was a park, nearby. We became regulars to Salt Water State Park, a nice mile plus round trip walk from home. Here, the small public beach is choked by privately owned beaches, sea walls, rock cliffs, logs and rules. The semi-sandy beach is about forty yards by twenty at high tide. Currently it’s more than half covered by the naturally occurring, growing log pile gifted by storms and kept in place by law. In the summer months the tide recedes further and if lucky enough or planned you can carefully walk out another fifty yards or so on the Barnacle covered rocks amongst the tide pools. Here at an edge of the Puget Sound, where the ocean’s water works its way around the San Juan Islands, the small waves are more like swells. These tired waves sort of heave themselves, splashing, thudding and pounding against the rocks. Despite its shortcomings, Sarrah loved this place instantly. She would often insist on going there by taking a hard right, instead of the left turn on our usual daily trek down Marine View Drive. I am certain that my occasional “giving in” further fueled this action, but making time to enjoy small victories is good for all. We probably hoofed that all terrain trek at least five hundred times over the years, and around one hundred shorter versioned, driven in stops.
Sarrah loved the Puget Sound, especially all of the creatures and smells that come with it. She happily stole bits of clam, crab and mussels from harassed crows and seagulls, who had dropped them onto the paved pathways to break them open. We walked the beach in search of sea glass (to collect) and sand dollars (to throw back), along the gurgling creek looking for fish, around the grounds and trails for less crowded nature.
Sarrah seemed to have an affinity for salted air, in all of its forms: warm and strong, crisp and bright, cold and damp or even the bone soaking driven by wind. She led me to find and appreciate the less popular versions of marine air, which are highly addictive and ultimately better.
* * *
On her last day here I carried her down to the beach, sat on a log and held her so she that could see the view and smell the air one more time.
* * *
Saltwater Park was one of Sarrah’s favorite places to taste some freedom.
It came to me that it is not about Closure, it is Freedom, for her.
Perhaps I do not heal like others, or at all.
Heavy words like Loss are supposed to be followed by the equally heavy Closure in some kind of weight transfer on an invisible set of scales.
I cannot embrace Closure, but her Spirit deserves Freedom.
* * *
This is what I wrote early Saturday morning. I then poured some of Sarrah’s Ashes on the paper and carefully folded it.
Saturday March First Two Thousand Fourteen I walked alone down to the beach for a sunny solitary moment with the 0.9 low tide and ocean breeze.
A lone seagull showed up and quietly watched and waited with me for waves to come and wash over.
Sarrah loved it near the dunes so I’d planned to release some of her ashes here and found a surprise (a gift) near our usual trail end. A driftwood bench has appeared since my last visit, so I put some near it.
I sat on the bench to enjoy the view and absorb the moment.
When I got up to leave an Eagle appeared on the beach and stood guard.
Sarrah, Nissa and I explored the roads, trails, miles of beach and rolling dunes. We never tired of these journeys and the ever-changing collection of treasure discovered along the way. The ocean constantly changes the beach and gives back an endless amount of debris from the land. Some storms take away sand, others bring it back and then some. Those that come in the winter pile up logs and other assorted remains washed down streams.
Sadly, not all is wonderful. The ocean is always giving back the unwanted gifts of the human experience, garbage. I began to collect these ugly bits of proof and pieces of disrespect. The more we looked, the more we found and brought back with us. I began to take ownership, understanding what is called “stewardship” and feel like this was ‘our beach’ and wondered why so many other people were just walking past these ‘treasures’, do they not see the garbage? All of this reminds of when I was a kid in the early seventies, there was a television commercial with a stoic, once proud American Indian, standing with a tear in his eye watching garbage come to shore in the waves. Perhaps time has come to replay it for those who missed the message and do not recall pride. Or maybe a newer version to make us more aware of the long term affects of mishandling things like plastic. Regardless of the cause of garbage turned into litter in the wild, it belongs to all of us and it is not ok for me to walk on by.
Aside from the Ocean, the obvious main ingredient of this long beach is sand. Unlike the mostly barnacle covered rocky beaches of the Puget Sound, near home, this beach is sandy, miles… of fine tan-grey colored sand. Depending on the tide there is about twenty to one hundred yards of beach from the edge of the grass-covered dunes to the changing ocean line. Here the ocean licks the sand, packing it into a high-speed surface, making for a smooth run near the edge. Or where as Sarrah preferred it, sand piled loosely by the wind, storms and high tides up against the dunes where the grass grows and waves like wheat fields; catching the blowing sand into thick, fluffy unstable drifts for jumping and plowing through.
Sand is magical; it brings out playfulness in a dog, youth in the old and delight in a kid. Sand does not care how careful you are, it will get into everything. These little bits of ancient rock ground in the waves, spread by the wind, over time will get between your toes and everywhere else. Sarrah loved it! She did her part to share it. It seemed no matter how well I wiped her feet, she somehow smuggled some in.