My daughter and I took a walk down by the water last week, unaware of a new moon working its magic by way of astronomical tides. Once in a while, the ocean draws back so far, things you see all the time take on new appearances.
On one of my favorite walking routes in the next door town, we look from the seawall to an immense hill of rock off shore, where a steel spike waves an American flag. The banner is always there, sometimes more tattered than others. I never gave much thought to how it is maintained, assuming someone gets there by boat. But on the day of our walk, the tide was so low, a long, straight, stone-strewn path led directly to it.
Given the right conditions (and trust me, January cold does not offer them) we could have walked out to the granite monolith. Delighted it could be possible to “walk across water” to visit a place we never thought to reach under our own power, afterwards we drove to the beach in our own town. There we saw a similar display…the tide so low a sandbar projected out to a rock that up until that moment seemed completely off limits.
The next morning, she and I found ourselves back in our neighboring town. There shops line the harbor and normally, we look down from the parking lot to docks floating far below. A long steep gangway is the only way to get down to them. After completing our business, we headed back to the car when my daughter exclaimed, “Look at the water!”
At first all I saw was a vast puddle. It took a moment to realize the pool was the ocean. Via the pull of the moon, the water had risen to the level of the parking lot. With no wind or storm, it crept silently across empty spaces toward the clump of cars parked in front of a restaurant, including ours. My daughter checked her I-phone and determined we had reached exact high tide. No worry for oblivious patrons munching on eggs and omelets, the flood was about to turn.
Hopping into the car, we drove down roads threading through mirror waters. The sea lapped at the side of the road. Swamped marshes reflected a grey winter ceiling and still salt ponds reproduced wrinkled images of resolute cottages guarding a barrier beach.
Perhaps folks who live right on the water see this degree of transformation all the time. But as I thought of what we witnessed, I recognized two key things:
Goals that seem impossible to reach often need nothing more than then a routine change of tide,
Take a breath when things seem ready to swamp you. After that, it's likely they'll recede.