It must be eighteen years or so now that we have been living at the Beach House alongside the western shore of Morecambe Bay. From the house we have uninterrupted 180 degree views, floor to ceiling, of the sea, which is pretty overwhelming and something we never take for granted or get used to.
The huge tidal rise and fall twice a day means this is an extremely dynamic, ever changing environment. I suspect I have not yet been able to grasp what this twenty-four-hour-a-day experience truly holds.
It cannot be reduced to an appreciation of the view. It has to be more than that and I am constantly searching for what that might be. I suspect I have been asking myself the wrong questions all this time.
This quiet Sunday morning I am reading a few poems from ‘The Peace of Wild Things’ by Wendell Berry, which are mostly about the land and farming his own Kentucky ground for forty years or more. It’s coffee time and the tide comes in fast from the South West, reaching 9.13m. It will build up to the highest – and lowest - tides of the month by mid week.
There’s a poem - seen through the eyes of a farmer – about the sea. One verse reads:
..... But the dark of the sea
is perfect and strange,
the absence of any place,
immensity on the loose.
Immensity on the loose! He’s got it in one. Living alongside immensity. That’s what we do every day. Not the immensity of a majestic mountain range. This immensity is on the loose.
It is dangerous, unpredictable, brooding, calming, fierce, tranquil, hungry, disobedient, joyful, occasionally well mannered and picture perfect, then mucky and raucous, thrashing the shoreline to within an inch of its life.
None of that is going to change. If anything we are likely to get greater extremes, particularly in winter storm surges. But from today, I am at last beginning to grasp the choices we have made in committing to a life without firm boundaries, where everything is on the loose, and feel better able to articulate the immensity we have invited into our lives by choosing to live here.
By now someone has pulled out the plug in the bed of the sea and the tide has retreated to 1.03m where it will remain for the next 6 hours and we’ll hear it back up on the shore again about 11pm. tonight.
Goodnight Wendell and thank you very much for sharing your insight. Sunday 15th April 2018