Low tide, low clouds, low light …

Today’s full moon low tide is exposing areas of the beach normally covered by the sea. I walk, and walk, and watch and wonder. I enjoy the effects of low banks of heavy cloud and patterns of low winter sunlight. Bladderwrack covered reefs, one as tall as myself, are there to be explored: to study close-up, to feel with fingertips inch-by-inch over barnacles and bladders, and to photograph… though my header image doesn’t do them justice. Atop the reefs, in multiple little pools of sea-water, it’s business as usual: they are full of  tiny delicate shells, tentacle-waving anemones, minuscule shrimps. Nothing in these pools seems to know it’s midwinter.

Scanning the wider landscape (seabedscape, really) I am particularly attracted to the rib cages of fine gravel and how some of the ridges, reflecting the heavy sky, look deep and dark; others touched by a brief ray of sunlight, look shallow and bright. Again, my phone images are a poor replacement for a proper camera (and a proper photographer!) but I can’t resist… I take one after another, obsessively.


This is one Google has ‘improved’ for me…


Better in a way, but somewhat brighter than I remember! And there wasn’t a trace of blue sky in sight, nor is bladderwrack this green. Google randomly does this when I take a few photos: the ‘improvements’ often look to me like a child’s colouring-in with neon highlighters. Or maybe an adult’s, since we are all colouring-in these days. Nothing wrong with that: there can be mindfulness in mindlessness.

I walk on, a little preoccupied with my own thoughts once I move away from the beauties of the sea’s rib cage. I’ve just received a diagnosis of spinal osteoporosis and spent last evening researching online and looking at more images of osteoporotic bones than was perhaps ideal. So when I come across this rather-the-worse-for-wear though nonetheless exquisitely formed spiral shell, I feel a degree of empathy for my spine – I feel sorry for it, though not for my self. Whatever the self may be: that’s most definitely another story…

I don’t feel a victim at all – or that awful phrase used so much in the clinical world: ‘a sufferer from…’, though the shell does seem to encapsulate some sense of self-right-now for me. It’s battered and a little broken from its life in the ocean, but there it still is, serving a purpose – if only to give one person a moment of joy and illumination – and it sits, calm and quiet on its gravelly ridge, away from the turbulence of the ocean, for now. I take artistic liberties by deliberately placing a nearby piece of sea belt (the only green scrap of anything I can see right now) and take another photo.


Wandering on, I meet a couple of friends and chat for a while. A routine social exchange, then into a more meaningful and heart-warming conversation. By now, the tide is coming in, and little ‘desert islands’ of sand are forming. I decide I will take one last photo today. Or rather, ask my friends to take it.  Sitting there, calm and quiet, a realisation: a small epiphany. Like a seaside shell, I am slowly – I hope slowly – disintegrating; yet here at my own seaside, among friends and the beauty of the coastal world, I’m also happy, and feeling blessed.

4 thoughts on “Low tide, low clouds, low light …

  1. I loved this Daphne: a perfect antidote to the excesses of this month. Perfectly weighted words and the photos are just fine as they are, complementing your text in a satisfying way.

    It’s troubling to hear of osteoporosis lurking, I’m sure you’ll continue to research it and what can be done to keep the worst of it at bay. I’m sure it won’t stop your wandering and writing. Take care.

  2. Your friend is right, Daphne, they are lovely photos, I love the muted colours. Same as I love winter, you can see the bare bones
    of the land. I’m going to email you with bones info. xxx

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