Thursday, April 09, 2009

Of salt, in gray

Spring days used to always smell like this. Of seaweed-tangled mussels at low tide. Of cat-tail smoke and creosoted piers. Of salt.

And beyond the ticky-tack of the boardwalk, I'd wander the dunes until sunset. Blanket in hand, I'd crawl across the sand to lie in the sun's last rays where seagulls circled and circled overhead.

Returning to the faces that had worried away the afternoon, I'd offer up the day's harvest of sea glass, fingers aching with grit and salt, forgiven for not being lost.

But I was lost. Wandering after whatever it was in the cool spring air that made the gulls call to me, joyfully following their shallow tracks in sand and sky. Something... there was so much I wanted then. I didn't know what, only that when most alone, under the guise of beach walking, silence would tell me what I listened for.

I'm still wandering into spring afternoons after old scents and old sounds; as if one could open the past for me and let me find the girl that wanders there.

Today I thought about salt and how my life could be clean and simple if I reduce it all to salt; how I'll be able to talk to someone without going from pure joy to silence. And touch someone without going from truth to concealment. Salt is the only thing that lasts here at the shore. It gets into everything, your hair, eyes, clothes.

I like to think of myself turned to salt and all that I love turned to salt. To think of walking down to the beach, stepping on the backs of a million dead clams and how gray can be so beautiful. How if you aren't careful, you can just walk right into that alluring current and imagine what lies in a horizon you never knew was there, where the gray from the sky and the gray from the sea meet. Looking over the Atlantic at the edge of the continent, you can see all this crashing at your feet in cold rich foam, in salt, in gray.


bobbie said...

This is a beautiful post, Laura.

I wonder what people from other parts of the country find to substitute for what we love so much about the shore?

KGMom said...

Lovely, simply lovely.
Your wonderful words, in prose form, are sheet poetry.

Two things come to me--first, you are the salt of the earth. No wonder that image was used--salt has such life-preserving properties.
Second, Anne Morrow Lindbergh's The Gift from the Sea.
And now, you--Laura.

Floridacracker said...

Damn. That was so excellent.
Thank you.

nina at Nature Remains. said...

There must be something very universally thought-pulling from walking and looking out to sea.
When we've gone to the ocean for vacations, I find myself pondering life's biggest questions, feeling as if I could walk off, taking nothing, and have just enough.
I enjoy your wanderings/wonderings.

JLBO said...

Surely, you must be aware that the symbolism of salt is ambiguous (like all symbols). Salt can mean life, the taste of life : “You are the salt of the earth”, “the salt of wisdom”; salt can be shared, like bread, with the same meaning of brotherhood. In old times, when there were no refrigerators, salt was used to keep food for long periods of time, hence its value and meaning : something incorruptible like the alliance between God and his People (Numbers, 18, 11; Chron. 13, 5; Levit. 2, 13).
But salt can also be a symbol of aridity, bitterness and even of punishment as in Genesis, 19.
Have a good day.

Jim @ said...

Every season has something to offer at the beach. At the time of this post, the weather is probably starting to turn for the better and still very quiet. Being by the ocean can be very peaceful. I liked the photo of the seagull, they too look peaceful here, somewhat majestic.

kasturi said...

i completely related to this post, bobbie. i felt like i was the walker on the beach in silence - because once upon a time i was. thank you for this post, it said so much for me that was oh, so true. like salt

btw, i also went through a phase of musing on the hermetic properties of salt. it is one interesting substance, and has been called 'white gold' due to its importance in trade.

thx again, kasturi