The Defiance of the Sea

With the promise of crabs doing the nasty and turtles laying eggs, I ventured out this week to comb the beach under the light of a full moon. Apparently, as on land, the full moon lures adventure from the sea. That beacon serves as a personal Bat lamp to the creatures of the deep, drawing them out to perform life’s most intimate and important rituals.

Did you know, for example, that the male horseshoe crab can stay…errr…attached to its mate for ten years? TEN YEARS, I say!! That is a heckuva lot of copulation and, to me, represents epic stalkerdom. The beach that night was littered with the carcasses of horseshoe crabs spit out by the sea, their shells empty, their life story evident in the cracks, scratches, and notches etched in the walls of their former homes.

Did you know that loggerhead turtles will turn around despite a belly full of eggs if they encounter a sand castle on the beach? These massive creatures bail at the slightest road block, preferring to try again another night than to deliver their babies in unsafe territory. Babies for whom the best they can do is selectively choose where they incubate, given that their mother will leave long before they hatch and never see them again.

Did you know that there’s an eight foot tide swing along the coast of South Carolina, stranding unknowing vessels on it’s epic sand bar to sit and wait for the water to roll back in? It’s apparently the origin of this area’s Redneck Riviera as there’s little to do during the six hour wait but bum cheap beer off those who come prepared. You can thank the ocean for that party.

Did you know that the islands of South Carolina lost an estimated 250,000 trees in Hurricane Matthew? Despite only a six-foot storm surge, days of rain washed away much of the beach, all of the golf course, and dock repairmen down here are booked solid through 2018. In a head nod to history, the storm even washed up some Civil War cannonballs, necessitating the arrival of the bomb squad, an odd addition to the post-hurricane clean up crew.

I’m always amazed by the defiance of the sea. She feels no need to explain herself or apologize for her inconveniences. The marine life that inhabit her depths do so at her pleasure, directed when to mate and reproduce by her response to the moon’s gravitational pull. I’ve determined she must be in lust with the moon, determined to put on her best show when his light shines brightest on her beaches. Even the humans that dare to traverse her waters are helpless when she elects to pull them back to her. She offers great pleasure and peace to many, but when she’s angry, her storms steal the shore, reminding everyone that she is to be respected and revered.

I’m not sure I aim to be quite that defiant. I’m fairly sure my moon would welcome a show, but I doubt my dogs would respond to light-driven commands to get busy, and I’m certain my girl would balk at the idea of egg laying in any form. I’d be down for marooning friends on my porch, but only if they bring craft beer. I don’t drink the cheap shit. As for the storm part, well, I’ll try not to knock down any trees, but you’re probably better off evacuating.

What I desire to emulate from this wave warrior’s story, however, is her commitment to the tides. Her understanding and acceptance of the natural rhythm of things, her belief that sometimes you have to shake shit up, but eventually return to the ebb and flow. She is timeless with this routine, creating in her predictability a calm that supersedes the immediate. Her waves reassure that this too shall pass; you can count on the tide coming in, the turtles laying eggs, the crabs…ummm…crabbing. I want to embody that rhythm, that assurance, that simplistic perfection that holds constant despite the swirling of the world around her.

The full moon has now past, the turtles will hold on to their eggs for another month, the crabs will probably keep crabbing, and the Redneck Riviera grows as the heat necessitates cheap beer. But the sea? She stays.

Let’s not piss her off anytime soon, okay?