this morning came earlier than usual for me, with an insistent alarm clock telling me get up, get up, get up. it was only after i walked out the door to breakfast that i realized the rain was pounding against the walls and windows, the wind was tearing at the building's every seam. i wasn't teaching until this evening, so i gratefully hunkered down in my room with pearls and pliers and whittled away at the hours by doing what i know to do. in the afternoon, after lunch, the rain subsided, but the wind did not. i didn't care. off to the beach i went, prepared for the harder elements because i did not care. the walkway ended, just like that, in tall dunes of sand. covered by wind, by nor'easter water, the weathered boards led upward to nowhere and to everywhere. the skies look blue here, but grey they were, and grey they remained while i walked and leaned into the wind. i had never before, until today, witnessed sea foam being whipped into light-as-air meringue, fluffy stuff that blew across the sand and parted at my feet, poof - just like that - then scooted farther down the strand, looking for all the world like soft white clouds dancing there at my toes. it was magic, watching the wind whip the foam up into the air, watching it flip and tear it into a dozen smaller clouds, watching the clouds come flying past my feet and breaking into a hundred smaller batches. i love and live for times like this, you know i do. i tried, ridiculously, to capture the moment as a video with my camera; never before have i pressed the video button, so i'm surprised it even worked - never mind the wind noise, the dark lighting, the naive angles and footage. you still get to see the dancing of the clouds, right here (and if you'll listen very carefully, you'll hear my southern drawl whispering in grateful astonishment at the end; "i've never seen this!", i think i say):
and then, there was the tree. oh! this tree. magical, mysterious, a gift to the world, and - at that one solitary moment - a gift that was meant just for me. i could see it from far away, while clouds still danced past my feet. and when i drew close, it made me gasp and took my breath away:
decorating its bare sunbleached driftwood limbs were all manner of flotsam and jetsam things - pine cones, holey oyster and cockle shells, a battered rubber glove, a rubber rimmed round mirror, bits of a hawaiian shirt, clear tree ornaments still holding spoonfuls of salt water, miniature bottles swinging by ribbon the color of sky in the wind... frayed rope in aqua, knotted cord in red; urchin egg sacs, sea netting, seaweed, sea hair. a gift for the sea, from the sea. and, a gift for me.
standing on the sand there, clouds whipping past my feet, staring at the tree as its ornaments flapped and fluttered before me, i felt a little like scout or jem finch, after finding their miraculous treasures in the knot of a neighborhood tree.
the carved soap boy and girl, the sticks of chewing gum, the pocket watch with frozen hands: they were all right there today with me, dangling in that tree.
i'm reminded of a poem i once wrote about a bottle tree. i'm reminded of pippi longstocking, of my long ago childhood, of so many wonderful and remarkable things. i am reminded of everything. xo