The people you love become ghosts inside of you, and like this you keep them alive.Rob Montgomery
With COVID raging the way it is here in Australia right now, and my dodgy immune system the way it is, the only way I am walking on the beach is if it is empty. Luckily for me and Ben, we’ve found that no-one on holidays seems to want to be at the beach at 4.30am, just as the sun is rising, so we pretty much have the place to ourselves.
Our coastline has been smashed with huge waves and stormy weather over the past week, thanks to ex-tropical cyclone Seth, so I was expecting the sea to be roiling and wild when we hit the beach yesterday morning. To our surprise, the water was clear and glassy, with large gentle swells – the water so clean you could see the fish swimming in the shallows.
The sand was a different story. The hide tide line was littered with debris – mostly soft corals and sponges, kelp and seaweed, and lots of driftwood.
Whenever Ben and I walk the local beaches here on the Sunshine Coast we pick up litter. So, on our walk down the beach we filled our hands and pockets with plastic, electrical wires, broken toys, two pairs of broken sunglasses that looked like they had been in the water a long time, and tangles of fishing line.
As we walked, I talked to my grandmother in my head. My maternal grandmother passed years ago, but I often feel her around me. She used to love to take me beach combing when I was a child, and she had a great love of seashells and driftwood. Coming from a sailing family, she had quite a collection of treasures, and one of my favourite things was to be able to look at her shell collection, and to help identify them in her many reference books.
I thought about how these days I leave all the shells and stones, and take only rubbish away. It made me feel good to be able to be a custodian for this stretch of shore, and to help keep it clean.
When we retraced our steps back along the beach to return to our car, I stopped often to crouch down and marvel at the sea urchins, seaweeds, sponges, corals, and other wonders that had been thrown up by the wild weather.
And then I saw it.
Right at my feet.
A perfect cowrie shell. My grandmother’s favourite.
Its scientific name is Mauritia arabica (you can find out more about it here)
I felt as if she had left it there just for me.
I picked it up and curled my fingers around it protectively, and I honestly felt my grandmother right beside me.
What a magical moment.
It brought tears to my eyes, but in a good way.
I’ll be back on the beach again this morning.
I wonder who will walk beside me?
Love, hugs and childlike awe, Nicole xx